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Canadian Keswick, Lake Rosseau - C. 1940

Local History & Genealogy

The Muskoka Collection

A collection of historical and current material, including works of fiction, about Muskoka or by Muskoka authors.


  • Our Print collection consists of the histories of towns, townships, churches, schools, post offices, buildings, steamboats, hotels, cottages and the lakes as well as biographies and family genealogies. Cemetery transcriptions are recorded in These our Ancestors Were.
  • Atlases, gazetteers and directories include Guide book and atlas of Muskoka and Parry Sound (1879), Muskoka Lakes blue book, directory and chart (1918), Who’s where on Muskoka Lakes (1975), and farmers’ and business directories for 1866-67; 1872-73; 1884-1886; 1886-87; 1896.
  • Newspapers include The Herald-Gazette on microfilm from 1880s to 1996 and The Bracebridge Examiner on microfilm and/or print from 1996 to date.
  • Photographs include the collection of Bob Petry author of Bala : an early settlement in Muskoka and Bracebridge : an early settlement in Muskoka.
  • Vertical File of newspaper clippings about people, places and events.
  • Government Publications include many federal, provincial and municipal government publications pertaining to Muskoka. Minutes of the District of Muskoka and Town of Bracebridge may be consulted.
  • Vital Statistics and Census include census on microfilm for Muskoka and Parry Sound for the years 1861, 1871, 1881, 1891 and 1901; the registers for the Muskoka Mission (1865-1875) and the Uffington Mission (1884-1923) copied from the records of the Anglican Diocese of Algoma; registers of the Nazareth Lutheran Church at Germania (1873-1994)


Steamers at Beaumaris Steamers at Beaumaris
Steamer Sagamo Steamer Sagamo
Port Carling  Locks,  Muskoka  Lakes Port Carling Locks, Muskoka Lakes

Unpublished Collections

  • Redmond Thomas collection of 7 scrapbooks of newspaper clippings (on microfilm) and some ephemera and photographs.
  • Dorothy Coate collection of notes, photographs and clippings about people, places and events in the Rosseau and surrounding areas.
  • Lillie M. Johnson collection on 2 microfilm reels consisting of clippings about people and events (1933-1963)
  • Gladys Bennett collection of dramatic scripts and newspaper clippings by a locally well-known newspaper columnist, teacher and world traveler.
  • Working notes for A Good Town Continues (2000) including material that was not published.
  • Tweedsmuir scrapbooks for Women’s Institutes of South Macaulay, Bracebridge, and Haystack Bay (Lake of Bays)
  • Woodchester Villa scrapbooks on the history of the Bird family and the creation of the Woodchester Villa Museum.

Rene Caisse and Essiac

Rene Caisse Rene Caisse

A collection of published and archival material about Bracebridge resident Rene M. Caisse (1888-1978) and Essiac, her herbal treatment for cancer.

Mary McPherson, who worked closely with Rene Caisse, donated her own collection of documents and memorabilia, consisting of correspondence, photographs, clippings and patient testimonials.

Consult the Rene M. Caisse Finding Aid.

Access to some material is restricted.


The Living History Project

After almost a year and a half of collecting and cataloguing interviews and thanks to generous funding from the Ontario Trillium Foundation, the Library now offers 80 recordings from Bracebridge residents talking about their family histories, their memories of growing up in Bracebridge, their businesses, their experiences and their pride in the town. People have generously shared memories of growing up on the farm, going to school, playing hockey, attending fall fairs and band concerts, leaving town and coming home again. For the moment these recordings can only be listened to in the library. Please enquire at the Reference Desk. Click to listen to Ken Black: B.M.L.S.S./ Bracebridge High School Memories (l5 min.)

Access to the Collections

Steamers at Beaumaris Regatta - Port Carling

The Muskoka Collection must be used in the Library although some material is duplicated in the circulating collection and may be borrowed.

Staff at the Information & Digital Services desk will gladly direct your inquiry and assist in identifying items in the Catalogue, or in any of the Finding Aids.

Equipment is available for viewing and printing microform material.

Information & Digital Services staff will endeavour to answer specific questions about Muskoka history or genealogy. Contact us by mail, telephone or by email at info@bracebridgelibrary.ca

Internet Resources for Local History & Genealogy

Ancestry® Library Edition an online reference tool from ProQuest. Includes more than 4,000 databases of genealogical data from the US, UK, Canada and beyond. Available only in the library on the public access computers.

Helpful Websites for Local History & Genealogy