Local History & Genealogy

Genealogical Resources

Try the following resources if you are just beginning your research into your family history.

It is important to determine the location to begin your search (did your ancestors live in a specific area of Elgin County, in another area of Ontario, or another province or country?) It is also helpful to specify the approximate date, or date range when your ancestors lived.
Staff members at all Elgin County Library branches are happy to assist you by recommending resources where you can begin your search.

Additional Resources

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Print Resources for Local History

Book Collection:

Elgin County Library has a large collection of print materials relating to the history of the County of Elgin and the surrounding municipalities. Our collection of resources in each branch ranges from newspaper indexes, cemetery listings, and genealogy handbooks, to census listings, marriage registers, and community histories. There are also a number of family histories. The book collection can be found on the library catalogue, and holds can be placed for materials to be delivered to any of the 10 branch libraries throughout the County.

Online Documents:

Elgin County Library has a rich collection of documents relating to the history of the County. 

  • Mahlon Burwell’s Report on the feasibility of a road from Port Stanley to St. Thomas, July 1821. 
  • Map labeled No. 2 (no other title or identifying information). Shows a road, or proposed road, leading from what would be the 6th Concession of Bayham Township along Big Otter Creek to the mouth of the Creek. 
  • Petition of settlers in Bayham to alter a proposed road leading from the Talbot Road to the mouth of Big Otter Creek. Filed January 11, 1821. 
  • Petition of the inhabitants of Bayham to alter a road from Little Otter Creek to the top of Spring Creek Hill. Petition dated March 20, 1822. 
  • Bond obligating William Hatch, Thomas Nevil and Nathan Caswell to turn over land to the Crown for a road from Little Otter Creek to Spring Creek. Dated at Bayham May 6, 1822. 
  • Petition from Bayham requesting that a road from Houghton Township along the Lake Shore to the mouth of Big Otter Creek be altered. Dated at Bayham, March 7, 1822. 
  • Vine Family Genealogy 
  • Postcard pictures from Elgin County communities:
    • West Lorne 
    • Aylmer 
    • Dutton 
    • Eagle 
    • Rodney 
    • Kingsmill 
    • New Glasgow 
    • Port Glasgow 

Microfilm and Fiche Collection

Elgin County Library has a large collection of microfilm

These are available by visiting the branch libraries, or by searching our online catalogue and placing holds on microfilms reels that are of interest. Branch locations that house microfilm printer/readers are Aylmer Old Town Hall Library and the John Kenneth Galbraith Reference Library – Dutton. There is a $0.25 cost (per printed side of each page) to print from the microfilm reader/printers.

Information available to view on microfilm or microfiche includes:

  • assessment and collectors’ rolls for the different municipalities 
  • complete microfilm copies of every census from 1842 to 1901 for the Province of Ontario 
  • bylaws and minute books from municipalities within the County 
  • Tweedsmuir Histories 
  • assorted city and county directories from Elgin and neighbouring municipalities 
  • gazeteers and directories concerning Upper Canada, Canada West, and Ontario 
  • business directories 
  • diaries and letter books 
  • scrapbooks 
  • newspapers published in the County 
  • Upper Canada Land Petitions 
  • church records from various churches in the County

Books for Sale

Tremaine Atlas

Tremaine's Map of the County of Elgin, 1864

Reproduced in atlas form on a township by township basis in 2002, this map lists property owners on each lot and contains an alphabetical index. 


Garrett Oakes

Garrett Oakes. Tales of a Pioneer

Garrett Oakes was one of the first settlers on the Talbot Road in Yarmouth Township (1810). In the 1870’s he wrote his memoirs in the form of a series of newspaper articles. These have been reprinted and extensively footnoted. This volume provides a fascinating and detailed picture of early life in the Talbot Settlement. 


Sims History Elgin County Volume II

Sims' History of Elgin County. Volume II by Hugh J. Sims.

Covers the communities beginning with the letters M to R. 


Sims History Elgin County Volume III

Sims' History of Elgin County. Volume III by Hugh J. Sims.

Covers the communities beginning with the letters S to Z.


Scott Sefton Book

The Scott-Sefton Collection:
Elgin’s History Through A Photographer’s Lens- Volume I

The Scott Studio Collection is a collection of national significance, comprising approximately 100,000 negatives created by three generations of photographers, documenting all aspects of life in Elgin County and St. Thomas from the 1870s to the 1980s. This book highlights some of the most well-known and interesting photographs in this collection, and the chapters are divided by theme.


Harvest Of Memories

Harvest of Memories:
Elgin’s History Through A Photographer’s Lens- Volume II

The photographs in this volume are drawn from the holdings of the Elgin County Archives, highlighting significant images which captured everyday life in both the County of Elgin and the City of St. Thomas, with a particular focus on the history of agriculture and International Plowing Matches in the County.


Elgin County Library Holiday Hours

Saturday, December 23 at 1pm, all ECL branches are closed

December 24 – January 1, all ECL branches closed

Tuesday, January 2, all ECL branches open for regular hours

Our digital library is open all day every day!