Library of
Great Lake Ontario

The Library of Great Lake Ontario, located in Rochester, NY, includes current, classic and antiquarian volumes on history, government, politics, travel, lifestyle and literature of the Great Lakes region, primarily Lake Ontario. The geographical focus ranges from the Niagara River frontier to the St. Lawrence River region, with waterfronts in the Provinces of Ontario and Quebec, New York State and the Genesee River Basin. The Library includes volumes on the Erie Canal, Genesee Valley Canal, and selected areas of the US.

cover of Hunters Guide from Niagara to Quebec, 1855

The Library maintains the Lake Ontario Shippers & Travelers Inquiry Center, with an electronic database of historical information related to the Library's focus.

Collected from a variety of research sources, information is available on historical leaders of 19th and 20th century lake commerce, and their shipping companies. There is information on both passenger transit and cargo traffic, and on how commerce was carried out. This includes travelers of significant historical note, the vessels on which they sailed, and their destination ports of call - both historic and contemporary.

Special subject focus is added for specific Great Lake Ontario "legendary characters," Canadian underground railroad fugitive slave colonies, and Native Americans/First Nation Canadians, primarily of the Iroquois Federation.

The Inquiry Center maintains the PORTS L.O.S.T. Museum Society's virtual museum of Lake Ontario Shippers & Travelers history and culture. This virtual museum is a digital portal to the collections and archives of Canadian and American museums, libraries, and historical assets around Lake Ontario.

Lake Ontario Steamboat Transit
"Waiting Room"

Revisits the experience of travel by water around Lake Ontario in lifetimes past. Covers the manner in which travel was promoted and administered, and includes portraits, posters, photographic images, printed materials and artifacts.

Illustration of antique lake steamer boat

O.N.T.A.R.I.O. Registry Trust
"Board Room"

Displays biographical images of the "Captains of Lake Commerce" and their historic Ontario fleets, with company registry titles held in trust by the Library.

Great Lake Ontario
"Chart Room"

Contains historical and contemporary charts and maps of the Great Lake Ontario region, and travel and touring literature from ports on both shores of Lake Ontario.

The Library resource rooms and collections opened in 1999, and are available by appointment to credible researchers. We graciously respond to written requests for access, and can also provide referrals to additional; sources and archives.