Elgin County Municipal Records
Acquiring, preserving and providing access to Elgin County Municipal Records is the Archives’ principal responsibility.
These include council minutes, by-laws, tax assessment rolls, maps, voters lists and other records of the county government and its sixteen former and current local governments dating back to 1852 (or earlier in some cases).
The Archives is fortunate to have a complete set of records from the Elgin County Clerk’s Office since its inception, documenting many aspects of the area’s social and economic development, including petitions on matters such as temperance, social welfare, justice and the need for infrastructure.
Search the Elgin County Council fonds and Elgin County Clerk fonds in our online database.
For additional information and context, view records from the County’s formative years of 1852 and 1853:
Or read a brief history of the County of Elgin.
The publication Documenting Our Roots: A Sesquicentennial History of the County of Elgin, 1852-2002 is available to purchase.
An image gallery documenting the history of Elgin County Council is also available.
Here is a list of all Elgin County Wardens from 1852 to 2023.
The County of Elgin provides an online document search, allowing the public to view all Elgin County Council minutes and by-laws from 1852 to the present as well as agenda packages from 1998 to the present.
The Scott Studio
The Scott Studio fonds is a collection of national significance, comprising approximately 100,000 negatives created by three generations of photographers, documenting all aspects of life in Elgin-St. Thomas from the 1870s to the 1980s.
For more information, search our online database.
Reprints are available for any image shown in the database or galleries. Consult our schedule of fees, then download our reproduction order form and submit along with payment in advance to the Elgin County Archives.
The Scott-Sefton Collection: Elgin’s History Through a Photographer’s Lens, Volume I and Harvest of Memories: Elgin’s History Through a Photographer’s Lens, Volume II are available to purchase.
The Archives maintains the records of Alma College, the internationally-renowned educational institution for girls that operated in St. Thomas from 1877 to 1994. For more information, search the Alma College fonds in our online database, and read a brief history of the college. Explore our digitization project Toujours en Avant: A Pictorial History which provides access to over 4200 photographs from the Alma College photograph series or view thematic galleries presenting images documenting the history of the college.
In January 2019, we acquired a 1948 16 mm silent film depicting an Alma College May Day ceremony and graduation that was held in the Alma College amphitheatre. It is rare to see a colour film of Alma College from such an early date. In August 2019, we held a meeting with four alumni of Alma College, to record an oral history discussion with them while watching the film. We have been assisted by a PhD candidate (Maria Meindl) who specialized in film studies and interviewing people. We have completed a detailed transcription of the interviews, and the PhD candidate added the content to her “Gatherings” website for the University of Toronto, Centre for Drama, Theatre and the Performing Arts: Gathering Project May Day film 1948-1949
Listen to an interview conducted in 2003 with class of 1938 Alma graduate Elizabeth “Betty” McPetrie Matheson:
Women's Institute Records
The Archives possesses records of several Elgin County Women’s Institutes, including “Tweedsmuir Histories” for communities throughout the County, providing a female perspective of life in rural Ontario throughout the twentieth century. Explore our County of Elgin Women’s Institutes Tweedsmuir Histories digitization project, which provides online access to a wealth of unique documents, photographs and memorabilia found in the more than eighty volumes of Tweedsmuir Histories contained in the Archives’ collections.
Anderson Department Store/ Anderson Family Records
The Archives maintains a large volume of records documenting the history of the Anderson Department Store in St. Thomas, 1896-1988, and the Anderson family’s extensive and enduring contributions to the community of St. Thomas and Elgin County. Learn more by searching the Anderson Department Store fonds, Anderson family fonds and Donald Hume Anderson fonds in our online database, or by touring this virtual exhibit.
You can also listen to a 1986 Andersons store radio advertisement by clicking the button below.
Elgin County Library Microform Collection
The Archives is the repository for this collection of over 1500 microforms formerly housed at the St. Thomas Public Library. This material includes province-wide census returns, Upper Canada Land Petitions, probate/surrogate court records, directories and local newspapers (including the Rodney Mercury, West Lorne Sun, Dutton Advance and Aylmer Express).
Surrogate Court Records
Volunteers at the Elgin County Library have indexed the Surrogate Court Records for the London District and Elgin County from 1800 to 1900. For the London District, all the available records were indexed. Elgin County was formed in 1853; thereafter only Elgin County residents appear in the index. The index is available online in two parts at Estates and Estates2 and can be searched using the Find function in your web browser’s Edit menu.
Elgin County Road Reports and Petitions
An index of petitions to the District of London circa 1821-1841, many of which exist as part of the Elgin County Clerk fonds. The Elgin County Archives acknowledges the efforts of Frank Clarke in the gathering of this information. The index can be searched using the Find function in the Edit menu.
Maps and Plans
This collection includes Tremaine’s Map of the County of Elgin, 1864, a valuable resource measuring approximately six feet by three feet and documenting property owners throughout the County at that time. The map is available to purchase in atlas form. The Archives also has a number of fire insurance plans documenting the built heritage of communities throughout the county during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, such as Goad’s Fire Insurance Plan of Belmont, 1894.
Notice about the collection: Historical language advisory
Certain parts of the Elgin County Archives’ collection contains historical language and content that some may consider offensive, for example, language used to refer to racial, ethnic and cultural groups. Items in the collection, their content and their descriptions reflect the time period when they were created and the view of their creator.
The items retain their original descriptions to ensure that attitudes and viewpoints are not erased from the historical record. The Elgin County Archives provides additional descriptive information to give background on the records. This is an ongoing process.
If you see records with inappropriate language or content that you think we should review, please contact us at (firstname.lastname@example.org). Please include as many details as possible regarding the language or content which requires our attention such as the archival reference number or the permalink to the record. Also, please indicate “Description review” in the title of your email.