Researching Your House
About the Local History Collection
The Library owns an ever-growing historical and genealogical collection of the City, the Niagara River and Falls, and the Niagara Peninsula. The wide variety of rare material in these collections - including guidebooks, atlases, local histories, magazines, maps, photographs, art reproductions, newspapers, clippings, government reports and City Council minutes - are used extensively by staff and the public.
These materials can be viewed at the Victoria Avenue library. Due to the rarity and nature of these materials they are not available for loan and cannot be borrowed through the InterLibrary Loan system.
Researching Your House
Researching the history of your house? Often, there is limited information available unless the house has been designated as a heritage building, or had a well-known occupant.
Steps to take when researching a house include:
Check the City Directories.
The Niagara Falls Public Library has directories from the present going back to 1904 (there are a couple of years missing that the library has not been able to find). Be aware that house numbers changed twice - once in 1925/26 and again in 1969/70.
A good strategy for checking city directories is to start with the present directory and obtain the directory for every tenth year. If the listing is unchanged go back to the previous tenth year. (Ex. - start with 2007 and check 2007, 1997, 1987 and so on).
If there is a change during that decade, check the individual volumes for those years to see what the changes were and when they occurred.
Most of the house number changes that occurred between 1969 and 1970 involved adding 4000 to the number - so 910 became 4910, 1482 became 5482. That was not always the case, though. If the change was not straightforward you can find the nearest crossroad and count in the 1970 directory the number of houses from the crossroad that your house was, then get the 1969 directory and count the same number of houses. Many of the names of neighbours will be the same also.
The number changes between 1925 and 1926 need to be traced by counting the numbers in from the nearest intersection and the names of neighbours as above.
Check the Library Vertical Files
The library has clipped items from the newspapers for a wide variety of subjects, including articles done about individual houses. These are filed in cabinets in the Reference Department. Please ask Reference Department staff to check and see if there is an article on your house.
Check the Library Website
The library has a database of over 25,000 images - it is possible that there is a picture of your house there. Go to http://www.nflibrary.ca/nfplindex/start.asp?db=images and type in your street name in the search box (don’t type in the number - don’t forget that they have changed & you may miss the house if it is entered under one of the older numbers)
Check the City of Niagara Falls Heritage Property Database
The Municipal Heritage Committee maintain an inventory of Heritage Architecture, historical sites and places of natural/cultural significance in the City of Niagara Falls. Properties are included in this database even if they have not been formally named as a heritage property. Check the website at https://www.niagarafalls.ca/living/heritage/listing.aspx
Check the Ontario Heritage Properties Database
If your house has been designated as a heritage property, it would have been listed in the Ontario Heritage Properties Database, this has now been superseded. Check the new website at http://www.historicplaces.ca/en/pages/register-repertoire.aspx