I love old photos, whether they are portraits of my ancestors or historical photos for the period when they lived. And it is important to a complete research that one attempts to understand the environment that surrounds our ancestors' lives if one wants to truly appreciate what they went through.
So where can they be found? Obviously the best resource is our own photo albums and those that our relatives possess. But what about other resources? Many archives, historical societies, libraries and genealogical societies have collections of old photos. And in the past few years there has been a massive movement towards making these historical photo collections available online. Some have search capabilities where you can actually put in a surname or a location, name of a building or historical event and find what is available.
For the province of Ontario, what collections are available for you to browse and/or search online? Here is a list of sites to start with. Please feel free to add in the comments other online resources that you might be aware of in the province.
Please be aware that there may be very strict rules regarding downloading or other use of the images that you may find. Copyright and other legal protections may be in force. Make sure that you read the limitations of use for any image that you find in these collections and wish to download and/or copy. It is your responsibility to adhere to the rules for all of these collections.
Please note that links to these sites may change in the future. The author (me) will not be constantly checking and updating these links, so if you find a broken link, please use your favorite search engine to locate the new link.
Ontario Sites for Historical Photos
This is just a sampling of some of the larger collections. By no means is this an exhaustive list. Almost every city and county library in the province, college and university library, as well as historical society has a photo collection. Many are not available online, yet many do have online access.
(Updated March, 2019)
- Almonte Historic Photo Archive
- Archives of Ontario
- Archives of Ontario Flickr
- Barrie Historical Archive
- Brantford History Photos
- Bruce County Museum & Cultural Center
- Canada BiblioArchives / LibraryArchives
- Canada Science and Technology Museum Picturing the Past
- Canadian Football Hall of Fame & Museum - Hamilton
- Canadian Letters and Images Project
- Chippewas of Rama First Nation - Rama
- City of Niagara Falls
- Deerhurst Resort Historical Photos
- Etobicoke Historical Society Online Images
- Georgetown Vault Photos
- Grey Roots Museum and Archives
- Grimsby Museum - Grimsby
- Guelph Museums
- Hamilton Public Library Local History Photo Archives
- Hastings County Photo Archives
- Historic London Photographs
- Huron County Museum
- Images of Canada
- Ingenium Canada Digital Photo Archives
- Ingersoll Historical Photo Gallery
- Lakehead University Photo Collections
- Lennox & Addington County Museum & Archives
- Museum of Northern History - Kirkland Lake
- Museum of Ontario Archaeology - London
- Museum Strathroy-Caradoc
- Niagara Historical Society
- Oakville Historical Society
- Old Ontario Postcards
- Old Photos of Ottawa
- Old Toronto Photos Mapped
- Orillia Museum of Art & History - Orillia
- Oshawa Museum - Oshawa
- Ottawa Vintage Photos
- Our Ontario Images
- Photo Archives of Ontario
- Port Hope Photo Archives
- Queen’s Own Rifles of Canada Regimental Museum and Archives
- Queen's Own Rifles of Canada
- Rainy River Historic Photos
- Southwest Ontario Digital Archive
- Stratford Digital Archives Photos
- The Canadian Jewish Heritage Network
- The Friends of Algonquin Park - Whitney
- Toronto Photo Archives
- Toronto Photo History
- Toronto Public Library Images Archive
- Toronto Public Library Photo Flickr Archives
- UK - Canada Photo Collection
- Unwritten Histories
- Waterloo Region Museum
- Woodstock Museum
For historic photos from other provinces as well as articles about photo research, please visit the Photos page.
Good luck and happy hunting!