Local History

Local History Banner

Visit the George and Helen Jackson Heritage Room on the second floor of the Library for unique local history resources. The collection includes local documents, family records, maps, cemetery guides, municipal publications, and more. Much of our Local History Collection can be found by using the Library catalogue, especially items in book form. Archival items such as the Family Files, information on settlements, and maps are not listed in the catalogue, but can be accessed with the assistance of a staff member.

Due to the irreplaceable nature of the material found in our Local History Collection, you will need to leave ID with the librarian to use this material in the library and it is not available for loan. Staff at the Information Services desk on the ground floor will assist you with accessing the Local History Collection.

Digital Archives

Find images, articles, vital statistics and original essays in our online Digital Archives.


Local papers – We have the Bradford Times, the Bradford Topic, the Barrie Examiner, the Era and the Huronia Business Times.

National papers – Toronto Star, Globe and Mail and the National Post

International papers – The Guardian (weekly)

We retain hard copies of back issues for 6 months. These are stored in the Local History Room.


The library has an incomplete record of local newspaper on microfilm as well as census records from as far back as 1854. You can use our microfilm reader, located in the Local History Room to browse these reels.  The microfilm reader will also print copies for a fee of 10 cents per black and white page. A complete listing of our microfilm holdings may be found in our Microfilm Collection listed in our Digital Archive.

The newspaper records date back to 1854 with the Bradford Chronicle. The South Simcoe Times (later News), The Herald, The Witness, Witness and South Simcoe News, Bradford Witness, Bradford Weekly, Bradford Gazette, Bradford West Gwillimbury Times and the Bradford Topic are all accessible. To check if a specific issue is available, please ask an Information Services staff member.

Online Research

Our online databases can be accessed through the Genealogy page, or through the Online Collections page. The 1921 Canadian Census is now available through Ancestry (see Online Collections page to access).

Local History Association

The Bradford West Gwillimbury Local History Association meets quarterly at the Library. Membership is $10 per year for one person, $15 for a family membership. For information about the Association, contact Chair Bill Marks at 905-775-6179.

The Association is selling copies of the two volume set Governor Simcoe Slept Here. These books tell the story of the churches, schools and hamlets and the many activities that characterized the lifestyle of West Gwillimbury in the past. The family stories – that might otherwise have been lost – are now documented. This compilation of local history research is available for purchase from the Library (ask at Borrower Services) or from Local History Association Chair Bill Marks (905-775-6179). The cost is $55.

The Association is currently fundraising for the restoration of the Auld Kirk. Make a donation to help maintain the building for future educational and religious events. Charitable receipts will be given for income tax purposes. No amount is too small. Contact Bill Marks at 905-775-6179.

Simcoe County Museum and Simcoe County Archives

Simcoe County Museum collects and preserves artifacts of local importance. Plan a visit to experience history first hand. The Simcoe County Archives also has an extensive collection and provides research assistance.