Chapter 7 - Land Records
Some Métis people are listed as farmers in the census records. Land records can provide family relationships, which sometimes are not defined in other records. To search land records it is important to know the township, concession and lot number. Townships were generally rectangular in shape, nine miles wide (east and west) and twelve miles deep (north and south.) Exceptions to this were created when lakes, rivers and hills caused irregular patterns. This land was further developed into about fourteen concessions that were separated by road allowances so there was access to the property. Concessions were further divided into lots of 50,100 or 200 acres. Concessions are identified with Roman numerals and lots by Arabic numbers. Land records are available from the time when what we know as Ontario was part of Quebec to the current records which are recorded in the County Registry Offices.
In 1789 Land Boards were created to oversee land matters and facilitate settlement in the districts of Hesse, Luneburg, Mecklenburg and Nassau. These records are found on microfilm at Library and Archives Canada, the Archives of Ontario and other institutions. The Family History Library has some microfilm copies of the records. The database includes more than 16,400 references to the Upper Canada Land Board records. The records were not always easy to read and the spelling may not be what you expect so use the index with caution. The microfilm can be borrowed through Interlibrary Loan.
Before the present day Province of Ontario was established as Upper Canada by the Constitutional Act of 1791 it was an extension of the Province of Quebec. To obtain Crown land people submitted petitions to the Governor. The Upper Canada Land petitions contain petition for grants or leases of land and other administrative records. These records are found at Library and Archives Canada. The database contains more than 77,000 references to individuals who lived in present-day Ontario between 1783 and 1865.
An index to those who applied for and were granted Crown Land has been created by the Archives of Ontario. It is found on microfiche in many Ontario libraries. It can be searched by name or location. Because there are many different kinds of transactions that are identified in the index it is recommended that you read the guides for land records that are found online at the Archives of Ontario website. There is also an excellent explanation in Genealogy in Ontario. Subsequent transactions are found in Land Registry offices.
Land Registry Records
After the initial grant from the Crown the records that document how each parcel of land was bought, sold or willed are found in the county Land Registry Records. These are arranged by township, concession and lot or by the street address. There are microfilm copies of the Abstract Indexes to Deeds and some of the early records. Because there is a fee to check these records learn as much as possible before going to an office. The books and guides listed in “Further Reading” provide examples of the records, the terms used along with research hints. Historic records may now be found in the Archives of Ontario or in local museums or libraries. In the article “Where have all the Ontario Land Records gone?” by Fawn Stratford-Devai there is a chart that shows the location of all Land Registry Offices and where the records may be found. The article is online at: http://globalgenealogy.com/globalgazette/APOLROD/apolrod7.htm
- A Guide to Ontario Land Registry Records.
Toronto: Ontario Genealogical Society, 1994.
- McFall, David A. and Jean McFall. Land Records in Ontario Registry Offices: a genealogical research guide. 3rd edition.
Toronto: Ontario Genealogical Society, 1987.
- Merriman, Brenda Dougall. Genealogy in Ontario: searching the records. 4th Edition.
Toronto: Ontario Genealogical Society, 2008.
- Research Guide 225 Archives of Ontario: Resources for Researching Land Records.
- Research Guide 205 Archives of Ontario: Using the Ontario Land Records Index ca.1780– ca. 1920.
- Research Guide 215 Archives of Ontario: From Grant to Patent: a guide to early land settlement records, ca 1790 to ca. 1850.
- Research Guide 231 Archives of Ontario: Finding Land Registration Records.
- Stratford-Devai, Fawne and Ruth Burkholder. Ontario Land Registry Records: a guide.
Campbellville, ON: global Heritage Press, 2003.