Canada Census Returns for the Muskoka District are available for the years of 1861 to 1921 and 1871 to 1921 for the Parry Sound District. These districts were settled much later in time than the counties farther south and therefore do not have any 1851 census returns. Census Returns can provide a wealth of information such as the number and names of individuals in each household as well as their age, occupation, marital status, religion and birth place.https://ogs.on.ca/databases/ogspi-info/
You will find that the census for these districts are not always under the same county or district name because the boundaries were changed several times before the turn of the century. Even the townships themselves may have been under different names between census years. The links below for the census index shows the microfilm reel numbers for each census year. Most public libraries will have these microfilms available for reading.
The Ontario Genealogical Society and its regional branches transcribed the 1871 census, which is available at most public libraries. It includes only the heads of households and not every individual name as the microfilm returns provide.
The Ontario Genealogical Society Provincial Index is a hypertext library established in 1997 as a volunteer project to index an unlimited range of Genealogical information on Ontario families. Included in this index are the births, marriages and deaths, transcribed from the Huntsville Forester with a link to the Huntsville Public Library. This is an ongoing project and it is not complete.
Cemeteries can provide a lot of clues in locating ancestors and or trying to find the date someone died or even born. Sometimes, additional names can be found on a tombstone indicating another family member. The dates given on tombstones can vary from indicating a single year of the event or a complete day, month, year date. Birth dates are sometimes shown on stones or maybe just the age of the person at the time of death. Whatever the information that is shown, it must be remembered that it is considered as secondary evidence only. Quite often the information is incorrect, especially if a stone was erected years or even decades after a persons death.http://ocfa.islandnet.com//
If an ancestor or family member cannot be found at a specific cemetery, you could always check with the caretaker or administration office for that cemetery. You could also check with local funeral homes.
A searchable database was created and named the Ontario Cemetery Finding Aid, or OCFA. There are two versions available, version 5 and 6. Version 5 has approximately 1 million names and version 6 has an additional 1 million names. The OCFA can also be found at several public libraries.
Church records can be a good source of vital statistics such as birth, marriage, and death registries. They cannot issue certificates, which can only be issued by the government. Most denominations have a central repository for archives but not all churches are obligated to submit their records to their designated archives. If an archive does not contain the records for the specific church you are interested in, then that church may may still have their records. Sometimes a minister or priest will keep the records of his parish when he retires or is transferred to another church. Another problem that you could encounter is fire. If a church burnt and was rebuilt, all the records prior to the fire were probably lost.
The church list below is of known active churches. You may want to refer to Gary Denniss, "Churches of Muskoka", for further reading. It includes pioneer churches as well as current active ones in Muskoka District. There is no known book of pioneer churches in Parry Sound District. You may want to check local histories and individual township histories.
Parry Sound District Clubs
Established August 27, 1996http://www.rosseauhistoricalsociety.com/
Have a yearly historical exhibition in August. A historical slide show to be held bi-annually and on request of groups. To publish a history book on the Village of Rosseau
Open to anyone with an interest in the history of Rosseau
2nd Tuesday of each Month except July & August 2 pm. EST at the Rosseau Memorial Community Hall
Muskoka District Clubs
A rail link was constructed in 1903 to connect steamship passengers on Peninsula Lake to North Portage on Lake of Bays. This society was formed to reconstruct the rail link as it once existed.
The book, "By Steam Boat & Steam Train", is an excellent pictorial history of this rail link.
Other recommended books are, "Huntsville; Pictures from the Past" and "Penlake; Reflections on Peninsula Lake".
Recommended books; "The Steamboat Era in the Muskokas" Volumes 1 and 2 by Richard Tatley.
Neighbouring Counties and Districts
Nipissing District GenWeb Project
Host: Annette Vander Waal
(Site down with redirect to hosting company as of Jan.1, 2015)
The Ontario Genealogical Society
2100 Steeles Ave. W. Suite 202
Concord, ON L4K 2V1 Canada
toll free: 855-697-6687, ext. 259
Mandate: To collect and preserve genealogical and related historical data; and to assist members in their study of genealogical research.
Public Libraries can have a wealth of information on local history and genealogy. You may find local newspapers dating back more than a century on microfilm or someone may have donated a published family history to the library. Quite often, newsletters of local genealogy and historical clubs can be found along with other clubs from neighbouring counties or provinces. Publications or microfilm from other libraries can be requested through the inter-library loan system.
Baysville Public Library
10 University Avenue
Baysville, Ontario P0B 1A0
The library is a hub of activity for the community of Baysville and surrounding areas. It was first established in the late 1800's in the home of Mrs. J. Campbell with books and book cases donated by local residents and occupying the front hall of the home.
Bracebridge Public Library
94 Manitoba Street
Muskoka Herald, Bracebridge Gazette, Bracebridge Herald-Gazette and Bracebridge Examiner newspapers on microfilm
An extensive collection of local history in the Muskoka Collection.
Ancestry® Library Edition available on public computers.
Cemetery transcriptions in the book, These Our Ancestors Were
1871, 1881, and 1891 Canada Census for Muskoka on microfilm
Burk's Falls, Armour & Ryerson Union Public Library
Box 620, 39 Copeland
Burk's Falls, ON
705-382-3327 phone & fax
We have been working very hard over the past few years to update and add local genealogical and historical information to our library's holdings. The Friends of the Library purchased the 1871, 1881 and 1891 Canada census for Parry Sound District on microfilm. We have a microfilm reader (no printer). We have the 1901 Canada census in hardcopy.
Our Local History collection includes books on the three muncipalities - the village of Burk's Falls, the Township of Armour and the Township of Ryerson.
We have only been collecting the local newspaper - the Almaguin News - since May 1997, but we are indexing the births, deaths and marriages listed in them (ongoing).
We also have books pertaining to adjacent municipalities such as Magnetawan and McMurrich/Monteith.
Christie Public Library
located off of Highway 518 in the Orrville Community Centre
Dwight Public Library
1014 Dwight Beach Road
Dwight, Ontario P0A 1H0
Foley Public Library
76 Rankin Lake Road in the Foley Activity Centre
Gravenhurst Public Library
180 Sharpe St. W. Gravenhurst,
ON P1P 1J1
Cemetery transcriptions in the book, These Our Ancestors Werehttp://www.gravenhurst.ca/en/library/library.asp
The Gravenhurst Archives Committee stores a collection of old historic pictures and documents
The newspaper, Gravenhurst Banner, 1888 to 1977, is on microfilm. There are sparse issues between 1888 and 1922.
Humphrey Public Library
15 Humphrey Drive,
Seguin, ON P2A2W8
Huntsville Public Library
7 Minerva Street East
Genealogical Assistance: Volunteers will assist you with your family research. A list of volunteers with their phone numbers is displayed in the Muskoka Room. Phone anyone on this list to arrange a time to meet. The volunteer will book a computer if needed. If you do not reside in the Huntsville area, contact the library and ask a staff member for the telephone number of a genealogy volunteer.http://www.huntsvillelibrary.ca/en
Some Muskoka Room Resources
• Computers linked to Ancestry.com, Our Ontario, Toronto Star Proquest Historical Newspapers and other genealogical sites
• Huntsville Forester Archives (1895 to present) on microform with indexed BMD
• Select census data on microﬁlm including Muskoka 1871 to 1911
• Huntsville tax rolls on microfilm
• Ontario historical county atlases (1877 to 1882)
• Ontario maps
• Ontario county marriage books (1858-1869)
• These Our Ancesters Were (transcriptions of local grave markers)
• Local history books
• Vertical file containing some family materials
• Eleven volume set of death notices, obituaries, and other announcements from Methodist newspapers from 1830 to 1900
Kearney Public Library
8 Main St. in the Kearney Community Centre
Mactier Public Library
12 Muskoka Road Box 541
MacTier ON P0C 1H0
Magnetawan Public Library
4304 North Sparks St.
Muskoka Lakes Public Library
Port Carling Branchhttp://users.muskoka.com/library/
69 Joseph St. (beside Home Hardware)
Port Carling, ON
1008 Maple St. (in the community centre)
Parry Sound Public Library
29 Mary Street
Parry Sound, Ontario
Perry Township Public Library
29 Joseph Street
PO Box 39, Emsdale, ON P0A 1J0
Powassan Public Library
324 Clark Street,
Powassan, ON P0H 1Z0
Rosseau Public Library
2 Victoria Street
in the Rosseau Memorial Hall
South River Public Library
63 Marie Street, PO Box 190
South River, ON POA 1X0
Sunridge Public Library
110 Main St., P.O. Box 429
Museums have an obvious historical value to local communities. Besides having artifacts from earlier times, they may have also have collected personal family histories and photographs donated to them by individuals. The Muskoka Lakes Museum is one in particular worth mentioning.
Bala's Museum with Memories of Lucy Maud Montgomery
Bala, Ontario P0C 1A0
Lucy Maud Montgomery had based one of her best books, The Blue Castle, upon a little-known Bala holiday in 1922. This historic home has been restored to the 1922 era. There are books, diaries and photos of Lucy Maud Montgomery as well as Bala history and artifacts.
Bethune Memorial House National Historic Site
235 John Street North
Gravenhurst, Ontario P1P 1G4
The birthplace of Dr. Norman Bethune has been restored to its 1890 appearance. There are family artifacts included in the restoration and period landscaping of the grounds.
Muskoka Lakes Museum
P.O. Box 432
Port Carling, Ontario P0B 1J0
Represents the history of the Muskoka Lakes. The Museum is unique in its representation of boat building, water transportation and the development of the tourist industry within the context of original native population, and early settlement of the area. They have an extensive collection of local family histories and photographs. They can be viewed by arranging an appointment with the staff.
Muskoka Heritage Place
88 Brunel Road
Huntsville, Ontario P1H 1R1
Collection dates from 1860-1910, focusing on the Muskoka area. The pioneer village includes pioneer homes, general store, inn, blacksmith shop and sawmill, all furnished in the period style. Also on-site is a full museum with various exhibits. They also have a number of artifacts and photographs of genealogical interest. They may be viewed by arranging an appointment with the staff.
Muskoka Steamship Museum
The steamship museum is located at the RMS Segwun dock. It is also home to the Muskoka Steamship and Historical Society.
The Museum was incorporated in 1983 as the West Parry Sound District Museum. Ten years later, in 1993, the Museum relocated and took up residence at the Heritage Garden located next to the Ranger's Cabin and Parry Sound's Iconic Observation Tower. Due to its location, the West Parry Sound District Museum became known as the Museum on Tower Hill.