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The Special Collections Room houses our extensive genealogy collection. This collection relates to families primarily within the Niagara Peninsula and to a lesser extent the rest of Ontario and other parts of Canada. A few International resources are available as well. Reference materials include local surname information, family histories, church records, cemetery records, land records, wills, vital statistics and census information. Local histories of places outside the Niagara area deemed useful for genealogical research are also available. A Local Names Index database and Ancestry Library Edition round out the collection.

Visiting the Special Collections room

You are always welcome to pay us a visit. We will do our best to help with whatever genealogical questions you are working on. Please note that items may not be signed out of the Special Collections room, but photocopying is usually permitted and reader/printers are available to view and print from microfilm.


We gladly accept and encourage donations of those local family histories that you have been working so diligently on!

The Genealogy collection includes but is not limited to:

  • Biographies and Family Histories
  • Extensive index of local names (card file and online Local Names Index)
  • Surname Binders
  • St. Catharines City Directories from mid-1863 to the present (incomplete to 1910)
  • Niagara Peninsula telephone directories
  • Newsletters of genealogical societies
  • Historical Atlases and Maps
  • Assessment Rolls
  • Cemetery Transcriptions
  • Census records for Ontario to 1911: some Maritime census material
  • Church Records
  • Immigration Information
  • Land Records
  • Upper Canada Sundries
  • Voters Lists
  • Wills for both Lincoln and Welland counties to 1930

Local Names Index

The St. Catharines Public Library, in cooperation with the St. Catharines Standard, has created an online Local Names Index. This index contains notices for births, marriages, deaths, adoptions, anniversaries, and more. Records have been entered up to February 1930 and from July 2005 to present.

Ancestry Library Edition

Ancestry Library Edition research database is St.Catharines Public Library’s subscription version of the family history website. It is a research tool that offers a huge amount of genealogical information online including census, vital, church, court, military and immigration records. The focus is mainly on the United States and the United Kingdom but there are also many records from Canada, Europe and Australia. Please note that you can access this database on any public computer at all four branches of the St. Catharines Public Library. You can also access it on your laptop from within the library.