Access the Collections

Material held physically in the Archives and Special Collections does not circulate. Researchers can access our collections in person. In some instances, it is possible to conduct remote research.


In-Person Research

Arrange an appointment

To consult archives and special collections in person, we highly encourage researchers to make an appointment, so we can help identify relevant materials and retrieve them before your visit. Please refer to our contact and hours page for the Archives' contact information, hours, and location.

Visiting the reading room

Visitors to the Northway Reading Room will sign a register upon arrival. Staff are available to discuss research projects, direct researchers to appropriate finding aids, and retrieve documents, special collections, or rare books from the closed stacks. Request slips are used to obtain documents, rare books or theses.

Special care must be taken when working with unique and irreplaceable archival materials:

  • Coats and backpacks are left at the nearby coat rack.
  • Food or beverages are not allowed in the Reading Room.
  • Researchers are welcome to use laptops and other devices. We have an outlet and extension cord for charging.
  • We supply pencils to researchers. Pens and markers are not permitted near the materials.
  • We will retrieve up to 2 archival boxes at a time. If you wish to consult more material, we will do subsequent retrievals.
  • We ask researchers to maintain the existing order and arrangement of file folders in a box, and of papers in each file folder. Documents must be refolded along original fold lines.
  • Care should be taken with documents. They should be handled carefully, not leaned on, and not used as a writing surface.
  • Cotton gloves are provided for handling photographs.
  • The Archives Reading Room is a place for quiet academic study using specialized materials. Cell phones should be turned off. If you need to discuss projects or research with another person, a separate place for you to work may be provided so that other researchers are not disturbed.

Copies and reproductions

Visitors to the Northway Reading Room are able to capture images of materials with their own device, or can request that staff scan/copy records, at a cost. More information on these procedures and costs are available on our reproductions and copyright page.

Remote research

If you are unable to visit the Archives in person, in some instances, it is possible to conduct your research remotely.

Some material is digitized and available online. See our guide to digital resources to explore.

If you have identified which files you are interested in, it may be possible to make copies for you, for a fee. Copies will only be made if copyright law allows, and if the condition of the material permits copying. More detail is provided on our reproductions and copyright page.

If you require us to look for particular information or narrow down your request by conducting research on your behalf, we can perform limited research on your behalf - typically up to an hour. Unfortunately, we do not have the resources to perform extensive searches for information.

If you are conducting extensive research from a distance, we recommend hiring a researcher. For genealogical research, contacts are listed through the Archives of Ontario (Genealogical Researchers) and the Ontario Chapter of the Association of Professional Genealogists.