189 Ontario city directories now on FamilySearch, thanks to partnership with Ontario Ancestors and Library and Archives Canada

Five months after Ontario Ancestors said they were partnering with Library and Archives Canada and FamilySearch International to digitize the historical Vernon Directories for municipalities in the province of Ontario, progress is clearly being made.

In Saturday’s Ontario Ancestors eWeekly Update, the society announced the first batch of 189 Vernon Directories were being uploaded to the FamilySearch digital library — and they are now available online and free to browse and search.

Most of these first volumes are from towns and cities beginning with B, such as Barrie/Orillia, Belleville, Berlin (Waterloo), Brantford/Paris, and Brockville, dating from 1903 to 2011. There are also directories for Chatham, London, Oshawa/Whitby, Sault Ste. Marie, and Stratford.

It will take Ontario Ancestors volunteers and FamilySearch staff more than two years to digitize the entire collection of about 1,300 directories.

The link at the bottom of the Ontario Ancestors’ Vernon’s Directories page connects researchers to the collection on FamilySearch. It is easy to do a preliminary search, but a free FamilySearch account is required to view each individual directory.

While one can search for family names, streets, and other keywords within each directory, a global search of the entire collection for directories for a particular city are much less effective.

A search for Belleville, for example, finds every directory that mentions Belleville, producing 128 results that include London and Brockville directories. Still, this is a small burden, compared to travelling to a library to look at the originals.

In the case of some directories, there is a profile of the community, listing the population and average household income.

More than 115 years of directories
Vernon Directories were published yearly, by city, from the 1890s to 2014, missing only 2010, when the company’s ownership changed. They cover most of Ontario, including the province’s capital city of Toronto.

The name, Vernon Directories, is derived from the name of the publisher. Depending on the city, it is sometimes known as Vernon’s Directories.

A link to the Vernon Directories has been added to the list of City Directories in my Genealogy Research Toolbox.

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