About the OHS

Preserving, promoting, and protecting

Our History

Founded in 1888, The Ontario Historical Society is a non-profit corporation and registered charity; a non-government group bringing together people of all ages, all walks of life and all cultural backgrounds interested in preserving some aspect of Ontario’s history. The OHS has a provincial mandate, but its headquarters is located at the historic John McKenzie House (built 1913) in Willowdale, Ontario.

John McKenzie House, and its adjacent stables and milk-house are all designated under the Ontario Heritage Act. The OHS is governed by an all-volunteer board of directors, and is supported by and supports its vast network of member individuals, organizations and institutions, including the OHS’s 350+ affiliated societies.

Get our most recent annual report that speaks for the diversity and significance of the work done by the Society, its fiscal health and its programs and services designed to meet the needs of all the peoples of Ontario.

What We Do


Providing a forum for individuals, organizations and institutions to exchange ideas, research and experiences related to the rich history of the province, including built heritage, natural heritage, cemeteries, and research and scholarship.


Sponsoring programs and projects across Ontario with wide general appeal that help us all discover the fascinating world of Ontario’s history.


For museums, historical societies, and other cultural organizations to research, preserve, interpret and promote Ontario’s local history and heritage.


Ontario History, a scholarly peer-reviewed journal featuring articles and book reviews related to Ontario’s history.


Providing educational materials, resources, and professional development opportunities to encourage the sharing and celebration of Ontario’s history in classrooms and museums.

Our Historic Plaque

The Ontario Historical Society

The foremost historical organization in the province, The Ontario Historical Society, originally called the Pioneer Association of Ontario, was established on September 4, 1888 largely through the efforts of the Reverend Henry Scadding. It initially operated as a federation of local groups and was primarily concerned with the promotion of British-Canadian nationalism through the study of history. Reorganized in 1898 and incorporated with an expanded mandate the following year, the Society became increasingly involved in the movement to preserve archival records and historic sites. It also assumed more scholarly pursuits, including a publication program, in addition to encouraging and coordinating the activities of local historical associations and museums. Today the Society continues the many efforts to preserve, interpret and publicize Ontario’s multi-faceted heritage.

Created by the Ontario Heritage Foundation, Ministry of Culture and Communications, erected at John McKenzie House in 1998.

La Société Historique de L’ontario

D’abord appelée Pioneer Association of Ontario, The Ontario Historical Society, principal organisme historique de la province, fut créée le 4 septembre 1888, surtout grâce aux efforts du révérend Henry Scadding. Au début, cette fédération de groupements locaux se vouait à la promotion du nationalism britannico-canadien par l’étude de l’histoire. Restructuré en 1898 et constitué en société avec un mandat élargi l’année suivante, l’organisme participa de plus en plus au movement de préservation des archives et des sites historiques. La société s’adonna aussi à scientifiques, dont un programme de publications, et favorisa et coordonna les activités des association historiques et des musées locaux. Aujourd’hui, elle continue à préserver et à interpreter le patrimoine varié de l’Ontario et à le faire connaître.

Préparé par la Fondation du patrimoine ontarien, Ministère de la Culture et des Communications, érigée au Maison John McKenzie en 1998.

Support the OHS

Donate to The Ontario Historical Society
By cheque:

Please mail a cheque made out to “The Ontario Historical Society” to:

The Ontario Historical Society
34 Parkview Ave.
Willowdale, ON M2N 3Y2

Donations receive charitable tax receipts.

By credit card:

Please phone (416) 226-9011 or toll free 1 (866) 955-2755.

Learn more about the Society’s Cemetery Defence Fund.


The Ontario Historical Society acknowledges the support of the Government of Ontario through the Ministry of Citizenship and Multiculturalism.

The Ontario Historical Society acknowledges the support of the Ontario Trillium Foundation, an agency of the Government of Ontario.

Funding for summer students has been made possible in part through a contribution from the Young Canada Works (YCW) in Heritage Organizations program, Department of Canadian Heritage. The Canadian Museums Association administers the museum component of the YCW program on behalf of the Department of Canadian Heritage. The National Trust for Canada (formerly known as the Heritage Canada Foundation) also administers the YCW program for jobs in heritage.

The Ontario Historical Society acknowledges the financial support of the Department of Canadian Heritage through both delivery organizations.

Le financement pour les étudiants d’été est possible en partie grâce à une contribution de Jeunesse Canada au travail dans les établissements du patrimone, une initiative du ministère du Patrimoine canadien. L’Association des musées canadiens administre la section muséale du programme JCT au nom du ministère du Patrimoine canadien. JCT est un programme de création d’emplois dans les établissements du patrimoine.

La Société Historique de l’Ontario voudrait remercier la Fondation Héritage Canada pour leur appui financier.