OurOntario.ca temporarily offline

This week we’re upgrading our infrastructure! Some of our services will be offline while we improve our services, including the OurOntario.ca search portal.

While this is happening, you can still access our VITA members’ sites and our aggregate collections: news.ourontario.ca for Ontario Community News, ink.ourontario.ca for full-page newspaper content, govdocs.ourontario.ca for Ontario government publications, and our new Abolitionists newspaper collection at news.ourontario.ca/abolition. These sites bring you province-wide materials from our VITA partners and other collaborators – much of the content you would normally find on the OurOntario.ca search portal.

If you’re a VITA user, remember that you can log in to your VITA account from data.vitatoolkit.ca and access documentation and resources at help.vitatoolkit.ca.

Thank you for your patience as we improve our services!


Using Local Newspapers for Genealogy Research

On September 10th, 2019, University of Windsor Librarian and ODW Board Member Art Rhyno gave a presentation called “Using Local Newspapers for Genealogy Research” to the Essex OGS/Essex County Branch, Ontario Ancestors. You can read a copy of his presentation slides here, and watch a video of his presentation here. Continue reading Using Local Newspapers for Genealogy Research

Announcing the Abolitionists Collection

Today we’re offering a new free resource brought to you by the OurDigitalWorld team:

The Abolitionist Newspapers of the 1850s digital portal.

Click to visit our VITA collection of Abolitionist resources!

As one of the first places for fugitives from slavery to end up after their travels on the Underground Railroad, and a place where many people called for a new black utopia, Ontario has a rich history of black publishing. This new site, built with our VITA Digital Toolkit, offers full-text searching and browsing of three publications:

  • The Voice of the Fugitive
  • The Provincial Freeman
  • The True Royalist and Weekly Intelligencer

Along with digitized microfilm of the Provincial Freeman and the True Royalist, we are delighted to announce that, for the very first time, low-quality microfilm of the Voice of The Fugitive has been replaced with high-quality, full-colour digital photographs of each and every page still available.

Continue reading Announcing the Abolitionists Collection

Check out our updated digitization resources page

We’ve recently updated our well-loved and frequently-used digitization resources list. We’ve removed a number of outdated resources, and added new sections on Indigenous materials, privacy, and general industry resources.


As always, if you have anything to recommend for inclusion on this page, we’d love to hear from you. Continue reading Check out our updated digitization resources page

Spring-clean your VITA site with these design resources

logo-hor1It’s spring, and that means spring-cleaning time. If you’re thinking about refresing the look and feel of your VITA Digital Toolkit site, we can help!

Our helpsite has tons of useful resources we’ve written about how to navigate and customize the front-end of VITA. We’ve also added some example resources from other VITA members who have graciously shared templates, posters, event plans, and other documents you can learn from. Continue reading Spring-clean your VITA site with these design resources

This week: ODW at the OLS-N First Nation Spring Gathering and the AAO Annual Conference

You can find us at several industry events this week. Tomorrow, Allana will be at the OLS-North First Nation Public Libraries Spring Gathering in Sudbury, sharing information about digitization and upcoming funding opportunities.

Later this week, Loren and Jess will be at the Archives Association of Ontario’s 2019 Annual Conference, where ODW will have an exhibitor booth and Loren will be presenting a session on working with newspapers publishers to ensure preservation and access of Ontario’s local news. Continue reading This week: ODW at the OLS-N First Nation Spring Gathering and the AAO Annual Conference

Presentation on the challenges of historical newspaper digitization & research, tonight!


Tonight at 7pm Walter Lewis will be presenting to the Uxbridge Genealogy Group at the Uxbridge Public Library.

Walter’s interests lie in both the intricacies of digitizing old print & microforms, and in navigating historical newspapers’ own idiosyncrasies. The presentation will cover the accuracy and biases of local journalists, the many interesting ways to find birth, marriage, and death information, things all researchers should know about microfilm and OCR, tips & tricks to navigate conflicting stories, and the ways local coverage changed over time (and slowly got replaced with syndicated stories).

If you’re in the area, stop by the Uxbridge Public Library and enjoy the talk!


Mystery Month: The Bell and Sloman Families

A few years, Rick Bell donated to Brock University a trove of photographs found in his mother’s house in St Catharines. While many of the later photos are of his family members, there are a number of late 19th century studio portraits depicting unidentified people. We wrote about these mysteries in our virtual exhibit about black history in Ontario:


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Continue reading Mystery Month: The Bell and Sloman Families