Trent Valley Archives has an impressive research library designed to supplement our archival and genealogical holdings. Over 3,000 titles have been catalogued. Our policy has been to gather books related to all locales within the Trent Valley watershed. As well, we collect titles related to architecture and housing, lumbering, soldiering, railways, gardening and topics pertinent to the experience of people who lived in this area.

Some of our collections are not catalogued in the general catalogue. We have lists of books from the libraries of Howard Pammett, Archie Tolmie and Alex and Alice Edmison. Several uncatalogued books are available in our upper processing room and we also have uncatalogued catalogues related for example to hardware, tools and to the building trades in the 1960s. The uncatalogued collections also include serials such as Municipal World, Ontario History, Bandwagon, Archivaria and archival and historical newsletters. We also have one of the best collections of street directories related to Peterborough.

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Our newspaper collections begin with the microfilm holdings of the Peterborough Examiner, 1847-2008; limited runs of the Peterborough Times and the Peterborough Review, as well as the pre-1840 runs of the Cobourg Star; the Patriot and Farmers’ Monitor published in Kingston and Toronto; Perth Courier; Brockville Recorder; Montreal Courier; Montreal Gazette; as well as several for Toronto, Niagara and other places.

Our hard copy resources of newspapers include about eight volumes predating 1900 for the Peterborough Examiner and the Peterborough Review, as well as the hard copies of the Peterborough Examiner, 1970-1973 and 2008 to 2010.We have the best available run of the Peterborough Review, 1935 to 1975. We have solid runs of the Havelock Standard, 1899-1970, and Haliburton Echo, in recent years, and of several Lakefield newspapers, 1950-2013. We have several newspapers printed in Peterborough in the 1970s and 1980s including Common Press, Kawartha Sun, and the Pinnacle. Over the years, many people have donated single issues and we have filed these in separate boxes for each decade.

Archival Sources

Our major archival sources are the land records of Peterborough County and the archives of the Peterborough Examiner.

Some other collections that have proved useful to researchers include the Robert Delledonne collection relating heavily to Lakefield, the Martha Kidd fonds which includes information on nearly every house in Peterborough’s original boundaries, the Archie Tolmie collection of materials related to Victoria County, the John Young fonds and the Ian MacRae fonds related to General Electric, the archives of North Kawartha Township, the De Laval archives and the engineering papers of J. P. Cahorn, to name only a few.

We have several small collections that have proved most useful. The commonplace book kept by the McDougall sisters in 1825 is an eye-opener on several levels, providing insights into the education and interests of two middle-aged women. The diary of John G. Weir, extending from 1880 to 1924 is loaded with details of life on the farm.

We have a number of Finding Aids available online.


The Historical Photographs of Peterborough County are found in several fonds. The most important is the photographic component of the Peterborough Examiner archives, containing over half a million items.

The Osborne Photographic Studio covers the 1970s and early 1980s. The Electric City Collection contains several hundred photographs mainly tied to the city of Peterborough and covers a wide range of subjects; this is easily our most referenced collection of photographs.

Several special collections of photographs are spread through the Trent Valley Archives. We are particularly proud of the Fairbairn photographic fonds which contains 192 glass negatives from 1895 to 1905 that were featured in the SPARK exhibit of April 2014. There are dozens of collections containing important photographic records of some part of Peterborough County and beyond.


The Peterborough City Directories are available online.

A number of hard copy Peterborough City Directories are available for viewing in-house at Trent Valley Archives.

Directions to view Peterborough City Directories (1858 to 2010) online:

Load Page
Peterborough City Directories
To View a Book
– Click on the title or book cover to open
– Turn pages by clicking on them
– To enlarge view click on the full screen view (arrows) above the magnifying glass on the right of the book
To Search Inside a Book
– Click on the magnifying glass at the right of the book or the search box in the top right hand side of the screen
– Enter search terms into the box and click go
– Search results will appear across the bottom of the screen
– Hover the mouse pointer over the markers to show information, click on the markers to view the page containing the information
NOTE: for faster search results download the book to your computer as a .PDF file
– Scroll down below the book
– Select .PDF from the download options (right side of screen)
– Once file opens, save to your computer
To Search a .PDF file
– Have a .PDF file open
– Press CTRL + F on your keyboard to open the search box
– If found it will show the first result, to go the the next result click on the arrow buttons beside the search box


Our map collection is highlighted by the historical atlases, and we also have several maps, many of which stand alone. Researchers frequently consult the several fire insurance plans for the city of Peterborough, of which we have originals for 1915 and 1929.

We have a selection of Canadian Heritage Facsimile maps for sale:

Newcastle and Colborne Districts, 1848
County of Peterborough, 1882
Plan of the Town of Kingston w/ Military Reservation, 1815
Plan of the Town of Kingston and surrounding area, 1815


Family Trees

We are fortunate to have been given many completed family trees which may save you hours of frustration. We also respond to many research requests which result in hundreds of family files already started.


Ancestry is the world’s largest online family history resource – including historical records, photos, stories, family trees and a collaborative community of millions. Members have access to Ancestry Institution on the workstations at the archives.

Master Names Database

The project for data-basing the family genealogies of the founding families of the Five Counties that we service began 27 years ago when past TVA President Andre Dorfman began gathering information for the Dummer Township history book. He began with the 242 founding families of Dummer Township. Since then, the project has been expanded to include Peterborough County and is rapidly encompassing the Counties of Victoria, Durham Northumberland, Hastings and Haliburton.

There are now 300,000+ names in the database (15,000+ surnames). The active participation of the members of Trent Valley Archives is continually increasing the size of the project. All data collected has been carefully researched, but no source documents are attached. It is intended as a finding aid. Birth, marriages, deaths, cemeteries, addresses, dates etc. are listed and available in the Master Genealogist® and Brother’s Keeper® program formats.

Census Records

At the Trent Valley Archives we have the Census reels for Peterborough, Victoria, Northumberland, Durham and Haliburton between the years: 1851-1901. More importantly, we have the invaluable Newcastle District microfilms which begin around 1810-1850 and cover the same area listed above. Available online are the 1840 City Assessment of Douro Township, the 1851 Census of Smith Township, and the 1869 City Assessment of Peterborough.

Parish Records

We have the entire Peterborough Diocese records here on microfilm. We also have the St. John’s Anglican records. These consist of microfilmed copies of parish registers, registers of service, financial records and early records of St. John’s Anglican Church from 1825 to 1935. St. John’s was the first church in Peterborough, and as a result, many of our early and prominent Peterborough residents belonged to this parish. In addition we have copies of the Warsaw United Church records from 1890-1960 and the early Methodist Registers from 1805-1850.

Marriage Registries

Trent Valley archives holds the marriage registries of Upper Canada (Canada West). These resources list many of the early marriages that are impossible to find elsewhere. We also have the early baptisms, marriages and deaths on microfilm (Peterborough and Victoria 1841-1858, 1858-1869) These reels contain the same information for these Counties: Peel (1858-1887), Perth (1858-1869), Prescott (1858-1869), Prince Edward County (1833-45, 1858-1869), Renfrew (1858-1869), Russell (1855-1869), Simcoe (1842-1866), Talbot (1838-1857) and Victoria (1839-1858).

Newspaper Obituaries

These contain invaluable resources for the budding genealogist. Most include day of death, residence, next of kin, cause of death, place of interment etc. At the Trent Valley Archives we have births, marriages and deaths for the Peterborough area from 1845-1885 and from 1980-2004. If you are looking outside the Peterborough area we can also assist you. We have births, marriages and deaths from the Cobourg Star from 1831-1849, and from the Lindsay area from 1861-1882. We also have indexes to the Lindsay papers from 1883- 1919.

Cemetery Transcripts

A great resource for finding birth and death dates for ancestors and possibly where they were born. Transcripts contain the information that is written on the tombstone. We have the full set of transcripts from Little Lake Cemetery, Lakefield and St. Peter’s cemeteries and many more in Peterborough County area.

Telephone and City Directories

Trent Valley Archives holds a nearly complete collection of Bell Telephone directories for Peterborough, Lindsay and area for the years 1962 – present. We also carry an extensive collection of more detailed city and business directories for Peterborough and Ashburnham, listing names, addresses, occupations, companies of employment, names of other people residing in the same dwelling, and more. Click here for a list of all directories available on-site.

Voters’ Lists

Trent Valley Archives holds the Peterborough Voters’ Lists for 1937 and 1971 – 72 listing voters’ names, addresses, occupations and other details.

Court and Jail Records

Records associated with area courts and jails, including a transcription of the Peterborough Jail Records for the years 1876-1896, and of the Colbourne District Court – Certificates of Judgement (1846 – 1861).

Peter Robinson Ships’ Lists

Don’t know whether or not your family was an original Peter Robinson settler? This resource will let you know. Click here to view the Peter Robinson ships’ passenger lists from 1825.

Peterborough County Land Records

Trent Valley Archives holds the hard copy non-city land records for Peterborough County, 1867-1955. This collection includes the abstract and patent books as well as the instruments. The Peterborough County land records contain documents such as deeds, mortgages and the occasional will — all of which can provide a wealth of information to researchers.