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Ontario Genealogy - Land Records
Ontario Land RecordsLand records are very useful. Originally all land in Ontario belonged to the Crown. Although there were small areas of settlement in 1763 after the British took over, major settlement of Upper Canada began in 1783 and utilized Crown Grants. Many early settlers, both military and civilian, submitted land petitions to the Governor in order to obtain Crown land.
Basically the following steps were involved in a settler acquiring land in Upper Canada (aka Canada West aka Ontario):
Also see Ontario Archives From Grant to Patent: A Guide to Early Land Settlement Records, ca.1790 to ca.1850 or the recommended Research Book Genealogy in Ontario: Searching the records by Brenda Dougall Merriman
- To apply for a land grant from the Crown, he (or she) may have submitted a petition to the Crown (further explanation below under Crown Land Grants)
- If the petition was successful, the Crown issued a land grant to the petitioner. It was a complex process to receive a land grant.
- If the settler took up residence on the land and fulfilled certain settlement duties, he or she ended up owning the land. In that case the settler was issued a patent, shwoing ating that the ownership of the land had passed from the Crown to a private individual.
- If there were any later transactions relating to that property (e.g., sale to another individual, taking out a mortgage on the property, etc.), they were documented in the records of the county Land Registry Offices .
Free Grants of Crown LandUp to 1826 free land grants were available to all settlers, to government favourites, and to UEL children. In 1826 these free grants were abolished except Loyalist grants and soldiers, and anyone wanting Crown land had to buy it.
Land PetitionsThere were two types of land petitions:
View the explanation of Free Grants and a list of Codes and what type of Free Grant they refer to
- pre 1827 petitions for free grants of land under the UEL and military categories
- post 1827 petitions for purchase of Crown lands
The Canada CompanySettlers could also buy lands from the Canada Company, a private company owning all of the Huron District. These records are held at the Archives of Ontario. All land sales after the initial Crown grant were registered with local land registry offices.
Crown Land GrantsProcedures for granting Crown Land changed constantly but could involve:
- The settler's initial Petition to the Crown for land
- An Order-in-Council from a federal Land Board granting their request
- A Warrant from Ontario's Attorney General ordering the surveying of a lot
- The Fiat from Ontario Surveyor General authorizing a grant of the surveyed lot
- A Location Ticket permitting the settler to reside on the lot
- The Patent transferring ownership of the lot from the Crown to the settler.
CLRI (Computerized Land Record 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.
Heir & Devisee Commission In 1797, the government of Upper Canada (now Ontario) established the Heir and Devisee Commission to clarify land titles for settlers on unpatented land. If your ancestor was living in Upper Canada around this time, there is a chance that you might find them referenced in this collection. Records can include: affidavits, bonds, location certificates, powers of attorney, orders-in-council, copies of wills, mortgages, deeds of sale, and testimonial letters. [Source: Canadiana.org] For a corrected list of online digitized film numbers with their contents, see Heir & Devisee Commission Microfilm Listings
Abstract Indexes to DeedsThe Abstract Indexes to Deeds are the indexed record of every transaction on a plot of land from Crown ownership to the present day. Using the Abstract Indexes to Deeds you can check for every instance of your name of interest on that parcel of land. By referring to the date and Instrument Number found with each transaction, you can look up the complete record. You may find a will (Many wills are filed in the Land Records Offices) or other important genealogical information or document.
See the example and explanation of the Abstract Indexes to Deeds for Concession 4, Lot 12, Puslinch Township, Wellington County Ontario. Also provides a list of where you can obtain the Abstract Indexes to Deeds for Ontario
Assessment RecordsAssessment and Tax Records contain location of an individual's land. There are very early assessment records, but each area in Ontario has different surviving records, so you must check for the county or township of interest to you. Example of an 1844 Assessment Record for Puslinch Township, Wellington County Ontario.
Township Papers Township Papers deal mostly with the original locatees, but may contain other pre-patent records. Some petitions for land can be found in the Township Papers. This miscellaneous group of land-related records have been arranged by township name, then by concession and lot or by town name and lot number. Under any lot which has documents, researchers may find the following: copies of orders-in-council; copies of location certificates and location tickets; copies of assignments; certificates verifying the completion of settlement duties; copies of receipt; copies of descriptions; and copies of patents; and copies of incoming correspondence. See Finding Aid to Township Papers
Other Resources for Land Records
Olive Tree Tip for Nelson Township, Halton County 1830 Assessment Records!The 1830 Assessement for Nelson Tp. Halton County has columns filled in for what appear to be Concession and Lot numbers, as well as total acres owned, how many cultivated and how many uncultivated, but... there are no headings!
I wrote to the Ontario Archives about this, in an effort to find out which columns were the Lot and Concession number (of great interest to me personally and to anyone searching for Nelson Tp. ancestors!).
I've written to the Ontario Archives before when I've been completely stumped about a set of records - does it exist, how do I interpret it, and so on. They have been fantastic at getting back to me quickly and have been a lot of help.
According to an email I received from Wayne Crockett, Senior Archivist at the Ontario Archives, ".. unfortunately the corner that showed all the headings for the first 10 columns was torn off,apparently many years ago.." Mr. Crockett went on to add that he hoped by looking at returns before and after 1830 he would able toidentify thecolumns, but a different order was used each time the assessments were taken. Mr. Crockett also gave me some interesting information that I wanted to share with other researchers ".. the uniform printed forms didn't seem tocome into useuntil the 1840s. The only only other option would be printedinstructions toenumerators, but I couldn't turn up any for 1830."
I decided to record the numbers in Columns 8 and 9 for each individual (because they looked like Lot and Concession numbers to me), then do some checking in the CLRI and other assessment and tax records. I hoped I could match up a known land location with the numbers in the 1830 assessment. That would give me the column headings for Concessoin and Lot. I'm pleased to say that this method was successful. With the finding of the land for John Greenlees (my direct ancestor) on the 1858 Tremaine Map owning Concession 1, Lot 10, I was able to verify that the 8th column is the Lot Number, the 9th is the Concession Number and the 10th is for whatever portion or part of the lot is owned (East, West, North, South etc. It seems certain that columns 6 and 7 are the acres cultivated or uncultivated, so adding them gives a total number of acres being assessed.
Interestingly enough, columns 6,7,8, 9 and 10 are identical to columns 1,2,3,4 and 5. For some individuals the information is recorded in columns 1 to 5, in others it is in columns 6 to 10 but it is never in all 10 for any one person.
In summary, if you are using the 1830 Assessment Records for Nelson Township, Halton County, you can tell what lot and concession your ancestor owned by looking at columns 3 and 4 OR 8 and 9. Columns 3 and 8 are the Lot number; Columns 4 and 9 are the Concession
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)
How Much Did Land Cost?Did your ancestor buy land after 1800? Wondering what it would have cost him at today's rates? If the amount paid was in English £, go to What Was The Exchange Rate Then and calculate the amount in today's dollars. Then visit The Inflation Calculator and enter the year and amount in dollars. Great fun to figure out what that 1858 plot of land worth £32 pounds would have cost today!
Online Maps, Atlases & Land Records