Curious about the history of Thunder Bay, local businesses, schools, or even your house? Are you researching your family tree? The local history and genealogy collections at the Thunder Bay Public Library have been in development since the early 1900s.

The collections include everything from newspapers on microfilm (dating back to 1875), city directories, maps, rare books, and photographs. The library also has helpful pathfinders to assist locating the information you are after with our social notices and obituary indexes.  You can browse these indexes as well as other virtual historical resources online. 

You can also choose to access these resources in person at the Brodie Resource Library. Still have questions about local history and genealogy? Feel free to Ask Us and our friendly and knowledgeable staff would be happy to help you.

Ask Us

Need help researching local history, genealogy, or any part of our collection? Just Ask Us! Our knowledgeable staff are happy to help!


A index is the entry point to our newspaper collections. It is a reference tool that can assist with finding information on local history such as names, subject, places, events and more. We offer five different indexes that can be found below.

Online Indexes


Ontario Genealogical Society Collection

The Thunder Bay branch of the Ontario Genealogical Society houses their library of resources at the Brodie Resource Library.

Special Collections

We are honoured to house books & literature about the history Thunder Bay and Northwestern Ontario in our Special Collections.

Photograph Collection

Curious about our photograph collection? Learn about how the library can give you a glimpse into the past!

Map Collection

Did you know that TBPL has a map collection? Find out more about how to access it in person and online.

Online Resources

Need Help Researching Local History and Genealogy?

We support local and non resident researchers.

Indigenous Genealogy Resources

Researching Aboriginal Ancestors in Ontario

This document by Janice Nickerson can help community members find resources to help them to discover more about their Indigenous ancestors.

Anishinaabek Research

Aandeg Skelly prepared this resource based on her extensive knowledge of the Anishinaabe Bands in the Thunder Bay and Rainy River Region.

Library & Archives Canada's Indigenous Heritage Initiatives

Access Library and Archives Canada's Indigenous collections and learn about their preservation initiatives for Indigenous cultures.

Archives of Ontario - Records Relating to Indigenous Peoples

The Archives of Ontario holds many records relating to Indigenous Peoples. Descriptions of their collections are online



Find out how the Canadian Copyright law affects the library and how you use our collections.

Research Basics

New to research? Not sure where to begin? We've collected some helpful links and tips below to get you started.

Government and Legal Information

Find Statutes and Regulations for both Canada and Ontario. as well as select Municipal reports at our Brodie location.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Our Brodie location houses our collection of the Henderson Directories that span between 1884-2004. The Henderson Directories are like phone books but include additional information about the residents of a house, like occupation.  This collection is only available for in-branch use at Brodie. 

  • Our friendly Reference Staff would be happy to help you research your family tree! Visit the Ask Us page for more information. 

  • An index is what we use to find articles in our collections. Indexes list key information about an article like the paper it appeared, the page number, the headline, and the date as well as subject listings. You can think of it as the basic information for search engines. Our staff currently index newspaper articles into our database, the Gateway to Northwestern Ontario History

    Indexing newspaper articles goes all the way back to the 1920s when staff at the Fort William Public Library (now the Brodie Library) started indexing local newspaper articles. 

  • Microfilm are long strips of film that have either negatives or positives of documents, typically newspaper collections. The Thunder Bay Public Library, has microfilm copies of newspapers from Thunder Bay, Port Arthur, and Fort William from the late 1800s to the mid 2010s. All of our microfilms are available at our Brodie Location. Newer editions of newspapers are available at Brodie in PDF format. 

    To view microfilm, you have to use a machine called a microfilm reader. Brodie has two microfilm readers attached to computers that allows you to export pdf versions of articles or print them out. If you'd like a demonstration on how to use our microfilm readers, please contact our staff by emailing For more information on how are staff can help you with your research you can also visit our Ask Us page. 

Other Resources

We acknowledge that the City of Thunder Bay has been built on the traditional territory of Fort William First Nation, signatory to the Robinson Superior Treaty of 1850. We also recognize the contributions made to our community by the Métis people.

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