The following sections provide links to archives, libraries, and digitized materials, currently focused on Hamilton and Toronto. A brief list of general resources providing broader Great Lakes coverage is also included. As the project progresses, further resources will be added. These were prepared for our Great Lakes Maritime and Coastal History (HIST 2F00) students, to aid them as they began their PortCities projects.



Hamilton Local History and Archives 55 York Blvd, Hamilton.

The Archives collect and provides access to documentary heritage that makes a significant contribution to an understanding of the development of the City, its natural and built environment, its culture and the people who lived, worked, and had an impact upon the Hamilton area.  The collection includes scrapbooks and clipping files, archives, books, periodicals and pamphlets, maps and photographs on a wide variety of topics, including Hamilton as a Port City.

Brookes, Ivan S. Collection

Registrar of Shipping fonds

Hamilton Cotton Company Limited

– Harbour Commission (00083), 22 bound volumes 1938-1966– R386.80971352 HAM CESH

– John Morris Collection (01201) Series 1—Harbour (Ca. 1920-1970) photographic negatives/prints

– Hamilton Harbour: A Heritage and An Opportunity: the Report of the Hamilton Harbour Advisory Committee—628.1686713 HAM

– Hamilton Harbour: An Address by Brian Hinkley—971.352 HIN

– Hamilton Harbour: A Heritage and an Opportunity by Hamilton Harbour Advisory Committee– CA4ONHBLW91 82H13

– Hamilton Harbour Commissioners Scrapbook–386.80971352 HAM V.1

– Port of Hamilton Directory 1900-1999 386.80971352 HAM 1988/89

– Port Of Hamilton: Canada’s Heartland Harbour by Hamilton Harbour Commission (Hamilton, Ont.)– CA4ONHBLI59 87P53

– Annual Report of The Hamilton Harbour Commission Regarding The Port Of Hamilton–CA4ONHBLI59 A56

– Footsteps in Time. Volume 2, Hamilton’s Historic Port and North-end Neighbourhood by Bill Manson–971.352 MAN V.2

– Maps of Hamilton Harbour

– Postcards—Hamilton Harbour/Waterways

– City of Hamilton City Directories: available here

– Images on Preview: eg. search harbour

McMaster University – William Ready Division of Archives and Research Collections
1280 Main St W., Hamilton. E-mail:

The William Ready Division of Archives and Research Collections is the principal repository for rare books, archives, antiquarian maps, and related historical material at McMaster University. Our collections include over 100,000 books and over 4 linear kilometres of archival material. We also work closely with our colleagues in the Lloyd Reads Map Collection.

Hamilton Waterworks Collection

Subject index: Business, Commerce, and Industry

Subject index: Hamilton, Ontario (Local History)

Subject index: Labour History

Lloyd Reeds Map Collection (Cartographic and Topographic Resources):

Hamilton Area Historical Research Resources

Hamilton, Ont. 19th century maps & surveys | Digital Archive @ McMaster University Library

Hamilton Region, 20th century aerial photographs

– Ontario Historical Topographic Maps:

1:63360 scale

1:25000 scale

Rare (pre-1900) maps:


British North America

Great Lakes Region

Bird’s eye view of the City of Hamilton : Province Ontario, Canada, 1876

Bird’s eye view of the City of Hamilton : Province Ontario, Canada, 1893

Fire insurance records

Other Resources


Hamilton: Daily Spectator 1858

Hamilton: Hamilton Evening Times 1864-1868

Hamilton: Hamilton Gazette 1852-1856

Hamilton: Weekly Times 1858-1864

City Directories
Hamilton City Directories (Available online from 1853-1969)

Shipping Registers
Shipping Register, Hamilton Ontario (incorrectly listed as St. John’s) 1843- 1926, pp.103-362.



York University – Clara Thomas Archives & Special Collections
4700 Keele Street, Toronto, M3J 1P3 E-mail: 

Toronto-area historic and contemporary maps

York University Digital Library

University of Toronto Libraries 130 St. George St., Toronto, ON, M5S 1A5

Maps and charts of Toronto

City of Toronto Archives 255 Spadina Rd. Toronto, ON M5R 2V3 E-mail:
The Archives has over 1.25 million photographs and over 10,000 maps and plans in its collection. Many of these have been digitized and made available to view online.

City of Toronto Collections – Historical Maps and Atlases

Toronto Reference Library 789 Yonge Street, Toronto, ON M4W 2G8
A broad range of digital and print collections. If you visit, plan to explore the Baldwin Collection of Canadiana “One of the world’s largest research collections of Canadian history. With over a million items, it holds significant primary sources from the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries. The emphasis of the collection is Toronto and Ontario.”

Toronto City Directories – Available online for 1797-1969.

Archives of Ontario 134 Ian Macdonald Boulevard Toronto M7A 2C5

The largest provincial archives in Canada. Explore the section on Access Our Collections

Other Resources

ProQuest provides access to digitized historical newspapers for Toronto; however, a ProQuest account is required. Alternatively, if you have a Toronto Public Library card, the newspaper archives can be accessed for free.
The Globe and Mail (1844-2018)
Toronto Star (1894-2019)

City Directories
Toronto City Directories – Available online for 1797-1969.

Shipping Registers
Toronto [Ontario] Registrar of Shipping 1874-1958
Toronto [Ontario] Registrar of Shipping 1884-1907

General Resources

Digitized Sources

Canadiana by CRKN. A variety of Monographs, Serials, Government Publications and Maps.

Héritage by CRKN. Collections on Genealogy, Indigenous History, Government Documents, Military History and Landmark Papers.

Federal Sources (Canadian)

The Library and Archives of Canada – explore the section Search the Collection

Censuses – Library and Archives Canada

Newspapers (Ontario)

Historical Newspaper Holdings

Historical Data – Climate – Environment and Climate Change Canada

Research Databases

Maritime History of the Great Lakes
The search tool is a useful as a starting point for research on a wide range of topics in maritime and coastal history. The site contains primary sources beginning in 1776, as well as recent secondary sources. Walter Lewis and Richard Palmer have recently digitized and transcribed C.H.J. Snider “Schooner Days” almost 1300 articles. Writing for Toronto’s Evening Telegram between 1931 and 1954, Snider chronicles his experience in the last days of working sail, along with other mariners, about ships, ports and people.

Alpena County George N. Fletcher Public Library – Thunder Bay Research Collection
A shipping database, housing several important collections relating to shipbuilding and shipwrecks on the Great Lakes.