Guide to Genealogical Research

Genealogical resources are interspersed throughout the holdings at Trent University Archives. There are a variety of resources including family papers and correspondence, birth, marriage and death records, census and assessment records, court records of legal cases, deeds, wills, store ledgers and accounts, business records and records of organizations and groups. 

Census and assessment records 

We have the following decennial census records on microfilm:  

Many census records can also be searched online through Library and Archives Canada

Indexes: The 1901 census includes a list of family members and their ages for Douro Township, courtesy of Cheryl Jones. We also have printed transcript indexes of the 1871 census (for Hastings, Prince Edward, Peterborough, Victoria, Hastings, Durham and Northumberland Counties) and the 1891 census (for Percy, Glamorgan, Cavan, Manvers, Monaghan North and South, Lakefield Village, Manvers, Port Hope Town, Murray and Smith townships). 

Earlier census were taken for specific townships. The information available on these varies. We have very early census and assessments, pollbooks and voters' lists on microfilm for the Newcastle District. The area covered includes townships in the present-day counties of Peterborough, Northumberland, Durham and Victoria. The townships of Hamilton and Haldimand were not filmed. 

Assessment records are less useful since they only list the property owner, but they complement the census records and should also be consulted. Our earliest assessments are for the Newcastle District and cover townships in Durham and Northumberland, 1802-1843. All the names in these records have been transcribed. Aggregate records may be of some use. We have microfilmed copies for Upper Canada, 1824-1850. Additional records for the township of North Monaghan were filmed by the Ontario Archives in 1959. 

We also have large collections of nineteenth-century assessments for Victoria County (paper copy), the United Counties of Durham and Northumberland (paper copy and microfilm), Asphodel Township (paper copy), and twentieth century assessments (1936 & 1940 only) for Lakefield (paper copy). The Land Record books for the County of Durham, 1843-1968, 28 volumes, contain abstract indexes to deeds and complete land registry information. 

Voters' lists 

Court records 

We have extensive court records collections for Victoria County and the United Counties of Northumberland and Durham.  These include indictments, convictions, inquests, voters' lists, township and other municipal business records, surrogate and other estate-related information.  

The important inquest series from the Northumberland and Durham court records has been fully indexed by name, age, address and cause of death. Also indexed is the register (calendar) of the common jail for the United Counties located in Cobourg. Please see the full Finding Aid for this important collection to locate other indexed series.  

Peterborough court records are at the Peterborough Museum and Archives 

Church records 

Vital statistics 

Births, marriages and deaths for the United Counties of Northumberland and Durham are transcribed in full. There are two sets of records: loose returns, 1838-1855, made by the minister of the parish, and three bound volumes, 1831-1873. 

We also have funeral registers from the Mather Funeral Home, Keene, Ontario. They list name and address of deceased, age, and cause of death. Persons named generally lived in the immediate area, that is, Otonabee Township. Volumes 1-3, 1888-1949 are open and available to researchers. 

Our Reading Room has various publications created by the Kawartha Branch of the Ontario Genealogical Society (OGS), including the following: 

  • Indexes to Cemeteries in Peterborough County: Little Lake, Pengelley, Upper Keene, Riverside (Lindsay), Warkworth, Highland Park and St. Peter's. 
  • Indexes of births, marriages and deaths from several Peterborough and local newspapers: Christian Messenger 1870-1872; Peterborough Examiner 1858-1875; Peterborough Dispatch, Backwoodsman & Sentinel, Chronicle and Peterborough Gazette, 1837-1856 (includes a special supplement and listing of the Peter Robinson settlers, 1825, where they settled and where they came from in Ireland); Cobourg Star 1831-1849 (plus supplement); Canadian Post and Victoria Warder, 1861-1882; Peterborough Review, 1854-1868. 

 Legal records and surveyors' records 

Trent Collection and relevant publications 

The Trent Collection, which is part of Special Collections, includes books on the Peterborough area and books by local authors. The books are available for reference use in our Northway Reading Room and all books are catalogued in Omni. 

Newspapers, maps, directories 

The Library holds newspapers from Peterborough and the surrounding area on microfilm. We also have important holdings of local papers in hard-copy. Papers date from 1831 to the present. 

Our map collection is extensive and includes wall maps with the names of residents on their lots. These maps are for Victoria County, 1877 and Durham County, 1861, and Asphodel Township as an inset in a map of Canada West, 1860. The Historical Atlases (we have these for Peterborough County and all surrounding counties) are also named maps. Note also in the map guide the Goad Insurance Plans of the City of Peterborough. See our guide to maps, atlases, and fire insurance plans.

Directories are useful for locating family residences and businesses. We have County of Peterborough, 1870-1871; Town and County of Peterborough, 1883-1884; Northumberland and Durham, 1865-1866; Northumberland, 1870-1871; Durham, Northumberland, Peterborough and Victoria, 1887; Durham, Northumberland, Ontario, Peterborough and Victoria, 1890; Durham, Haliburton, Northumberland, Peterborough and Victoria, 1896; and Durham, Frontenac, Hastings, Lennox, Addington, Northumberland and Prince Edward, 1911-1912. We also have the annual Directories for the City of Peterborough for 1926, 1936, 1937, 1940, 1968 to current. Many of these are also online

Online resources 

  • The Peterborough Examiner is online via the Internet Archive, up to 1954, courtesy of the City of Peterborough. 
  • Local historical City and County directories are on the Internet Archive, courtesy of the City of Peterborough. These are a tremendous resource for those researching names and business in the local area. 
  • Census records are available from Library and Archives Canada 
  • Little Lake Cemetery Interactive Web Mapping: This resource was created by the City of Peterborough's Geomatics/Mapping division and the Heritage Preservation Office in conjunction with students from Fleming College’s Geographic Information Systems program. 
  • Historical Atlases in Ontario: McGill University Library has digitized a number of late nineteenth century historical county atlases of Ontario, which are searchable by family name and location. 

Genealogical organizations and supports 

See also our directory of local archives and history sources.