Port Hope Public Library - Port Hope Branch

Local History Collection

Local History Collection

Port Hope’s well-documented history comes to life in the Library’s Local History Collection.

The story of Port Hope, Hope Township and the surrounding area is a one vividly told through books, newspapers dating back to 1832, family histories and census records. Our resources can help you find out about the history of the area and the families who lived here through the years. The Library’s collection is complemented by the material held at the Port Hope Archives.

Cameco Local History Room

 Cameco Local History Room houses the Audrey Brown Local History collection and is equipped with:

  • 2 Genealogy Research Stations with access to the Internet, the CemSearch cemetery record database and a printer
  • 1 microfilm reader/printer
  • 1 microfilm reader

We recommend that you reserve the microfilm reader and/or research station if your time is limited. Reservations may be made by contacting 905.885.4712, choose '0'.

Self-serve photocopying and printing charges are 0.25/page for B&W, 0.50/page for colour.


The Library’s local history and genealogy resources are highly-valued research tools. To ensure their availability for all patrons and visitors these materials are for reference use in the Library only.


A sampling of local histories:

  • In and around Canton by Ethel Farley Bickle
  • History of the Township of Hope by Harold Reeves
  • Little tales of old Port Hope by W. Arnot Craick
  • Port Hope historical sketches by W. Arnot Craick
  • Port Hope: a history by Ian Montagnes
  • Hope and its Port - pictorial book work published by the East Durham Historical Society
  • Bygone days of East Durham - pictorial work published by the East Durham Historical Society

A sampling of family histories:

• Early families of Port Hope – 9 volume set

• The genealogy of John Haw, 1821 – 1916

• The Hamley, Hambly, Hamlyn group of families by Douglas Hamley

• Family histories: Port Hope, Midland, Prince Edward County, Scottish pioneers by Diane C. Hunter

• Colonel William S. Marsh of Manchester, Vermont 1738 – 1816 and his descendants to the family of Mary (L’Esperance) Stinton by Bruce C. Stinton


Port Hope Public Library Listing of Newspapers on Microfilm lists holdings in the Library's microfilmed newspaper collection generously sponsored by the Wladyka Family, Happytown Productions, the Becker family, Northumberland Today and the Ontario Ministry of Culture.

Original copies of local newspaper issues are held for approximately six months, until the microfilm copy is available.

Our excellent genealogy volunteers are working on indexing the microfilmed newspaper collection. Births, deaths, and marriage indices available online at www.alivingpast.ca/.

Here's what has been indexed or is being worked on: 1832-2009: 35,000+ entries

Marriage Registers, Cemetery and Census Records
  • Marriage registers of Upper Canada/Canada West, volume 7, part 1 Newcastle district, 1810 - 1848 - compiled by Dan Walker
  • Marriage registers of Upper Canada/Canada West, volume 7, part 1 Newcastle district, 1848 – 1855 – compiled by Dan Walker
  • County marriage registers of Ontario, Canada 1858-1869, volume 14, Durham County
  • County marriage registers of Ontario, Canada 1858-1869, volume 9, Northumberland County
  • CemSearch database provided by the Ontario Genealogical Society (in-library availability only)
  • Written cemetery records
  • Census microfilm reels for the years 1848 to 1901 for Port Hope and Hope Township - indices available online – www.alivingpast.ca
Provincial and national archival material

The Library offers interlibrary loan services for material from the provincial and national archives, subject to the lending rules of those institutions.

Genealogical Research 
If you have roots in the Port Hope area and are interested in researching your family tree, have a look at these online resources.

OnLand, a Service Ontario database which provides access to digitized copies of the land abstracts books –a great way for you to access historical land information from home. The quality of digitization for some books is poor making reading entries an issue so please be aware of the database limitations.

Online Resource: alivingpast.ca

 www.alivingpast.ca is a website created and updated by Library volunteers. It includes a comprehensive record of the genealogy resources held at Port Hope Public Library and is an excellent place to begin your research. On this website you will find:

  • Listings of census records
  • Birth, deaths, and marriages indices for local newspapers
  • Transcription of The Book of Remembrance, listing local men who lost their lives in World War I
Volunteer research assistance at the Mary J. Benson Branch

If you find you require some research assistance in either starting a project or perhaps find yourself at an impasse with your family history our wonderful volunteer, Peter Bolton, can be found in the Local History Room (second floor Mary J. Benson Branch) on Monday mornings. Peter will be on hand from 10 a.m. to noon to lend an extremely experienced and knowledgeable hand with your research dilemmas. The website Peter developed www.alivingpast.ca is a great resource for local history and genealogy research.

Due to a varied schedule please confirm that Peter is available in the Branch on a Monday by calling 905-885-4712, choose '0'. He can also be available at other times during the week by appointment.


Ancestry Library Edition is a genealogy resource available to the public in-library only on our public Internet workstations.