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July 28, 2013

Finding an Ancestor in Early Ontario Land Records

Finding an Ancestor in Early Ontario Land Records
Upper Canada Land Petition Isaac Vollick
Many researchers ask me where and how they can find information about an early Upper Canada (aka Canada West aka Ontario) ancestor and where he or she settled.

Early Ontario records can be challenging to find. Ontario was not settled until the American Revolution when many Loyalists fled the Colonies (later the United States of America) for Canada.Very early records were often not taken or if taken, have not survived.

But there are land records, it's just a matter of knowing what has survived and where a collection can be searched.

It is also important to know the boundary and name changes that occurred in Ontario. From Upper Canada to Canada West to Ontario, you will need to know what years the name changes took place. Also important are the District and County name changes. Here is a complete list of the District Names in 1846 and the counties and townships in each.

Below is a list I compiled of online searchable land records. There are many that are not online and I have also provided a link to my website where a list of offline resources is given. I hope this is of help to struggling genealogists.

* Upper Canada Land Petitions index and images online on Library and Archives Canada (LAC).
Many early settlers, both military and civilian, submitted petitions to the Governor to obtain Crown land. Sons and daughters of Loyalists were also entitled to free lands. The Upper Canada Land Petitions contain petitions for grants or leases of land and other administrative records from 1783 to 1865

* Second Heir and Devisee Commission Case Files Database Index to  5184 case files, from 1804 to 1895, document claims for land made to the Second Heir and Devisee Commission. The second Heir and Devisee Commission was responsible for hearing and determining claims to land brought forward by the heirs, devisees, or assignees of original nominees. (Online Index)

* The Computerized Land Record Index (aka Ontario Land Record Index) summarizes land grants of Crown Land, sales of land from Canada Company sales or leases and from Peter Robinson settlers' grants. If your ancestor settled anywhere in Ontario and he was the first time owner of Crown Land, he should be on these lists. (Lookup Service)

* Return of all Patents for Land 1836 1478 names of patentees with some surnames missing (not found are surnames beginning with H, K, L, M, P, Q, S, T) 

* Canadian County Atlas Digital Project at McGill University. The County Atlas Digital Project is a searchable database of  property owners' names which appear on the township maps in the county atlases. Township maps, portraits and properties have been scanned, with links from the property owners' names in the database.

* List of land records available for Ontario (aka Canada West aka Upper Canada) and where each set of records can be found (online or offline)


Celia Lewis said...

Oh my - this is superb! All in one place, Lorine. Now to go digging yet again to see if I can find more on my ex-husband's family. They were in two places - Kingston region, and Bath region - in the 1800s. Difficult to track them earlier unfortunately. But something here may turn up a clue! Thanks so much for all your great work - much appreciated.

Diane Scannell said...

I agree with Celia -- Superb and all in one place. Thank you so much for your hard work in discovering what records exist and compiling not just a list of them, but a list with good descriptions of the records and links for ease of access. Surely this is ANOTHER star in your crown.