KARA Resources

What’s Here For You At KARA:

Over the course of Twenty-five and more years, you collect “a lot of stuff”. Such is the case with the KARA library holdings. Down the years we have been gifted with many donations from our members and friends. Every contribution helps our library resources grow.

Many of you are wondering, “so just what is available” in the KARA library. Let us share a little about the many resources in our library.


Before 1868-69 when Ontario began to formally keep track of births, marriages and deaths, you needed to visit the local church the ancestors attended if you hoped to find details about when a child was born and baptized or when a young couple married. Many a church has closed or merged with another parish congregation in the decades since our family members first arrived.

If you are searching for children in a family who were Wesleyan Methodist, then you would want to check out our database of 100,000 entries and its associated microfilm of baptisms. It covers the time period from 1820 through to 1920.

The Marriage Registers of Upper Canada and Canada West is covered by several volumes. For the period from 1841 through 1857, what today, we call Ontario, was called Upper Canada before 1840 and called Canada West from 1840 through 1857. At that time everything was designated by Districts. At first, Peterborough was called the Newcastle District, then in 1841 it became the Colborne District. Another change happened in 1850, when we began using the County structure and Peterborough County came into existence.

The County Marriage Registers of Ontario cover 1858 through 1869. Again, these are marriages extracted from church records and compiled into book form (there is also microfilm of the original entries).

That brings us up to the start of the Ontario government kept records of births, marriages and deaths. These are covered under their own section. While the government began keeping this kind of vital statistic record, the church continued with its own recording keeping. So there are church records that can still be searched.

Another collection of church records in the KARA holdings is the Peterborough Roman Catholic Diocese parish records from about 1845 through until 1920. After 1920, the records are closed still for privacy protection. In our holdings we have microfilm for all the Parishes within the Catholic Diocese of Peterborough. That includes twenty-three different parishes from the shores of Lake Ontario north to Parry Sound.

Perhaps you are researching ancestors who attended the Anglican Church. In that case, you would want to search the Cavan Parish records. This microfilm covers the early ministers who served in Port Hope and on up through the different townships coming towards Peterborough. These records cover the time frame from the 1830s on to the early 1900s.

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Reid’s Marriage Notices of Ontario from 1813 to 1854 is a book of extracted entries across the province might be helpful or perhaps, Thomas B. Wilson’s several volumes called The Ontario Register, might be a useful resource to consult.

William D. Reid also published a book called Death Notices of Ontario which is extracted newspaper items from 1810 through 1849. Another helpful book is Donald A. McKenzie’s Obituaries from Ontario’s Christian Guardian 1861 – 1870.

In the KARA library is a terrific collection of birth, marriage, and death notices in book form. These are extracted records from the early Peterborough newspapers. One of our KARA members completed the book outlines for us, as her winter-time project work. KARA has published all of her books covering 1876 through 1893.

In the 1990s and early 2000s, a series of indexes to the Lindsay newspapers was published by Ian Wilson and Lois Magahy. Copies of these valuable listings are available in the KARA library.

For years, KARA has collected newspaper notices and also has been the lucky recipient of many a box of newspaper clippings passed along as donations to our library holdings. Our volunteers have patiently cut and pasted all these clippings and notices into book form. They are now available on our library shelves for research work. Our B/M/D section covers the Peterborough Examiner, Peterborough This Week, Toronto Star, Globe & Mail, Lindsay and Cobourg papers. The years range from 1998 through to present day.

Another great resource in the KARA library is the Fenelon Falls Gazette, on microfilm. The years range from 1880 through to 2000.

One more resource in the library, is microfilm of the Globe and Mail newspaper from 1844 through until 2007.

LOCAL Area History:

Books published about the local area, the county, the town or township where our ancestors resided hold a wealth of useful information. Our library has a large section of local histories organized by their associated county and township. For the county of Peterborough, we have a number of useful indexes to many local histories. The indexes were published separately, since the original books never included an index. Indexes are such a useful additional tool for finding relevant information.

FAMILY Histories:

Written family histories are a great source of information and a means of verifying details to your own research work. KARA has an extensive collection of donated family histories available in our Research Centre library. They are organized by the dominant surname covered in the work. The books are maintained in alphabetical order by the doming last name.

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General Historical and Reference Material is invaluable when you reach the stage of writing about your own family ancestors. Where did they come from? Perhaps Scotland? And what small town or village did they give as a place of origin? What were the events that happened during their lifetime in that little village? Think about events both big and small, positive and negative, for they all had an impact on our earlier family members. Those events are likely to have encouraged our family members to pack up and venture out upon the oceans in search of a new country in which to settle down again.

The Reference section in our library holds many an interesting book about early Canadian History. Also there are many selections for the early history in Scotland, Ireland, England and America. You may find some interesting family details in the Dictionary of Canadian Biography or even the early Canada Almanacs that are part of this section in the KARA library.


There is so much more to cemeteries than the headstones we can see on the burial grounds. Sometimes there are burial records that can provide additional information. KARA began transcribing local region cemeteries in 1995. To date we have visited and transcribed almost all the cemeteries in Peterborough, Victoria and Northumberland County. We have transcribed many of the cemeteries in Haliburton County. As well, we have been to cemeteries further afield, in Durham and Hastings Counties. Our cemetery transcripts are available on the library shelves at the KARA Research Centre. Copies of many are also available for purchase through our web store.

Our extensive cemetery transcription collection includes many other transcriptions, done by a wide variety of folks over the years. Our library holdings include donated copies of numerous transcripts for other parts of the province.

In 2003, we began a new project. Not only were cemeteries transcribed, but each headstone was photographed. Our digital Headstone Collection now holds some 100,000 images of headstones in the many cemeteries of the area. It’s an awesome collection. Viewing headstones from this collection can be arranged by appointment.

CENSUS Records:

In early Upper Canada, census and assessments were done from as early as the 1820’s onward. Not that many survived and they are not too detailed in the information recorded. Nonetheless, these early census recordings can be helpful in identifying where our ancestors resided. KARA holds census microfilms for the early census recordings for the Newcastle District which includes all the present townships for Peterborough, Victoria, Durham and Northumberland Counties.

From 1851 onward, every ten years a census was taken that included the names of each person residing in the household on the day the enumerator arrived. We have microfilm for all the census years, 1851, 1861, 1871, 1881, 1891, 1901, 1911 and 1921 for Peterborough, Victoria, Northumberland and Durham, and Hastings Counties.


One can never say enough good things about the old Historical County Atlases produced in the 1880 time period. These are a truly valuable resource for locating the family on the land where they lived during the latter part of the 1800th century. At KARA, our County Atlas collection includes not less than twenty such books, covering the many different areas of the province.

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