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Atlases: Do you know your boundaries?

Colton Map of Upper Canada 1855

How do you know if you are looking in the right place when searching for your Ontario ancestors? Did you know for instance, that there were actually two Ontario’s? When the Province of Ontario was created in 1867, a county of that name had been in existence, in one form or another, since 1792. When it was dissolved in 1974, southern portions of Ontario County would go into forming The Regional Municipality of Durham, while the northern portions would be subsumed by Simcoe County. Another example of shifting boundaries is Durham County. It too was dissolved 1974, portions of which now form the aforementioned Regional Municipality of Durham. Confusing is it not? No worries, we are here to help. What you need is a good atlas, and that is exactly what you will find in our library collection. Here is a wee sampling of the resources we offer:

1. County Atlases of Canada: A Descriptive Catalogue

a. National Archives of Canada National Map Collection

b. Call # 929.3 71 016 Natio 1970

2. Guide to southern Ontario place names for family researchers

a. Mary Kearns Trace

b. Call # 929.3 713 Trace 1986

3. Illustrated historical atlas of the County of Ontario, Ont., 1877

a. H. Beers and Co.; Cumming, Ross

b. O/S 911. 713 83 Atlas 1877

4. Historical atlas of Lanark and Renfrew Counties, Ontario, illustrated : H. Belden & Co., 1880-1881. Illustrated atlas of Lanark County, 1880 ; Illustrated atlas of Renfrew County, 1881 [both published by] H. Belden & Co., Toronto ; [with a] Map of the counties of Lanark and Renfrew from actual surveys under the direction of H.F. Walling, published by D.P. Putnam, Prescott, C.W., 1863

a. H. Belden and Co. [publisher] (Toronto, Ont.); D.P. Putnam [publisher] (Prescott, Ont.); H.F. Walling [engraver] (Prescott, Ont.); Cumming, Ross

b. Call # O/S 911. 713 82 Atlas 1880

5. Illustrated historical atlas of the county of Middlesex, Ont. Dedicated by special permission to His Excellency the Earl of Dufferin, K.P., K.C.B., Governor General.

a. H.R. Page and Co. [publisher] (Toronto, Ont.); Mika, Nick, 1912-; Mika, Helma, 1924-

b. Call # O/S 911. 713 25 Atlas 1878

6. Index for the Essex and Kent Counties historical atlas: [reprint edition] H. Belden & Co. Illustrated historical atlas of the counties of Essex & Kent, 1881

a. Dora Pineau

b. Call # 929.3 713 3 Pinea 1986

You will find a complete listing of all the atlases, and similar resources in our collection, by visiting our Catalogue. If you are looking for something online, here are two excellent resources.

1. The Canadian County Digital Atlas Project. This is an initiative undertaken by McGill University Libraries and something you should definitely check out if you are researching early Ontario ancestors.

2. The Changing Shape of Ontario: Guide to Boundaries, Names and Regional Government in Ontario, may be accessed through the Archives of Ontario’s website.

Once again, happy hunting!

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2 Responses to “Atlases: Do you know your boundaries?”

  1. Great information. Your posts are very informative. Genealogy is very rewarding, but if you don’t have good background knowledge, it’s very difficult to put everything into perspective. It’s great that you are providing pathways for people to deepen their knowledge of history.

    James LaForest
    http://dailyreturns.wordpress.com/

  2. Pat Jeffs says:

    Your initial suggestions are “outside the boundaries” for those of us who can only view offerings in Toronto over the internet. That includes many members of the OGS.
    The URLs of The Changing Shape of Ontario (all sections of this extremely good presentation of historical material) have changed in the past two or three years and many providers of references, including wikipedia, have not updated their references. Error 404s are rife. Also, it is difficult to get from one section of this website to another–like a building without doors between the rooms. I use the individual county maps dated circa 1951 a lot, but came a cropper when I didn’t know Leeds and Grenville was presented as one map for each county.

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