OGS 2012

The Ontario Genealogical Society conference was held in Kingston, ON to commemorate the 100-year anniversary of the War of 1812.

The syllabus for all of the sessions that were presented is available on the L drive in the Reference folder and then the Shared Resources subfolder. Information from the syllabus will not be repeated here, but rather the notes taken by Andrea B at the conference.

An Overview of North American Land Records
Speaker: Lois Sparling

The English began settling in North America in the 17th century. At this time was the rise of individualism and the middle class. At this time, married women did not own property, as a man and his wife were considered one entity in the eyes of the law. Social status was tied to the ownership of land. The exportation of feudalism (the crown owning all land and therefore public “owners” of the land were in actuality tenants) was not embraced in North America.

Land ownership is a bundle of rights related to that land:
-easement: right of way, right to light (solar, sunshine), water rights
-squatters=adverse possession (people who occupied the land before it was up for settlement were sometimes given the first offer to own the land)
-hunting rights
-rights to mines and minerals
-riparian water rights (rights of water flowing downstream onto the land)

English land tenure (how the land is held)
-freehold (which is equal to ownership)
-leasehold (which is equal to renting/tenancy)
-life estate
-copyhold (hold the land for the lord of the manor)

In New England, individuals received land charters from the king and the land was parceled out to the Puritans. The Puritans then further distributed the lands in a way that they saw as fair. In other places in North America, proprietors were given large charters of land from the king, which these proprietors often sold off to other individuals in parcels.

The headright system was used in parts of the Southern U.S, which entailed individuals receiving land in exchange for immigrating to the New World and bringing over other settlers with them. These accompanying settlers were often indentured servants (basically slavery, but with a specified end date), who then helped to work the land. This was a popular system that significantly helped populate North America.

Outside of New England, what often happened was that an individual located land then he wanted to own, visited the land registry office and established a right to receive land. He would then hire a surveyor to draw up a desired land plot, and the survey was registered at the land registry office. If land was purchased from a proprietor (as opposed to the Crown) then the land would be registered in the proprietor’s name. However, the proprietor’s private record book would have the information about any subsequent tenancy.

Notes on the Freehold System
-fee simple/fee absolute (basic sale of land)
-fee tail (a condition is placed on the sale of the land, usually related to inheritance)
-fee simple subject conditions (the land must be used for a particular purpose, such as to build a hospital, church or park on)

Land Survey Systems
-several different ways of surveying the land were used over time
-indiscriminate metes and bounds
-public land survey

Indiscriminate Metes and Bounds
-a way of surveying land that is difficult to comprehend in records
-looking at a survey, start at the first landmark, follow the line for a specified distance until a corner is reached, continue this process until the last survey line connects to the first landmark. Doing this is called platting.

-organized by concession lines and lot numbers
-it is possible that records refer to half lots, since often lots were carved out and rented and sold into quarters or halves.
-this type of surveying system was common in Ontario

Public Land Survey
-townships were divided into areas 6 miles by 6 miles
-townships were then divided up into land plots
-How plots were numbered within US townships:
2 1
5 4
8 7

-How plots were numbered within Canadian townships
8 7
5 4
2 1

US State Land
-often give to proprietors and headrights
-metes and bounds surveying used
-patents or grants to land are kept in the state archives
-deeds and records of other land transactions are kept in county courthouses
-after the American Revolution, land was often given out to soldiers as way of payment. This is known as military bounty land. Land was also used as payment to soldiers in the War of 1812 and the Mexican-American War

US Public Domain
-land was distributed by the federal government
-surveys were taken using meridians, baselines, etc.
-patents for this land are stored in the National Archives
-there are 24 surveys in the US

In Canada
-the Dominion Lands Act of 1872 resulted in the survey of western Canada. Baselines were created at the 49th and 60th parallels, and the first meridian was created just outside of Winnipeg, and the 7th through British Columbia.
-The meridians were then divided by range lines running north and South, and town lines divided the area between the baselines east and west. The resulting land portions were townships that were 6 miles by 6 miles
-there is a land grant database for the Canadian Pacific Railroad available online, as many plots of land were given to the company by the government

How to Read Land Plots in Records

Will see:

SW1/4 (section)
12 (township)
9 (range)
12W2M (twelve west of the second meridian)

Contents of a Deed of Private Individuals
-place of conveyance (a.k.a. transfer)
-date of conveyance
-name and residence of grantor (person selling the land)
-name and residence of grantee (purchaser of the land)
-consideration (the price paid for the land. Not always a currency transaction. Payment in kind common).
-description of the land
-signatures of the grantor (but NOT of the grantee)
-signature of witness(es)
-dower information sometimes included (if applicable), but more often found in a separate document filed with the deed.
-LS (legal seal)

Definition of Terms
-deed: a contract of transferring land
-indenture: a contract with two copies that were then torn apart from one another. The rip lines on each document will match up like a puzzle. Used to reduce fraud.
-feme sole: single woman
-feme covert: married woman
-consideration: payment (sometimes symbolic. Eg. “In exchange for natural love and affection” means land is being transferred as a gift).
-chain of title: the history of the ownership of a piece of land. Proved through the stack of deeds that proves that ownership was passed along from the original owner to the current one.
-heir at law: the person who inherits the land if there is no will.
-life interest: to own the land for life
-dower: the wife’s interest in the husband’s land
-curtesy: husband’s interest in the wife’s land (much less common)
-bargain and sale: the straightforward sale of land that must be registered
-mortgager: a person giving the land in exchange for money
-plat: legal land description
-entail: to impose a tail or condition on the transfer of land
-hereditament: something capable of being inherited
-quiet title: quite means no risk of being sued by someone who will claim to own the land one has purchased
-reversion: something one gets back
-tenement/appurtenance premises: things that are on land, such as a house or barn
-riparian rights: rights to water/use of water
-widow’s third: the widow’s right to have 1/3 of the deceased husband’s estate after all debts have been paid
-et ux/et uxor: and wife
-q.v./quod vide: look for more information somewhere else in the document
-power of attorney: consenting to the authority of someone else to act on one’s behalf
-LS: legal seal
-chain: used in indiscriminate metes and bounds. A chain is 66 feet, 6 inches long.

Google: A Goldmine for Genealogists
Presenter: Lisa Louise Cooke

Basic Search Approaches
Think of using Google as an art, not a sceince. Often when you're not getting what you want is because there are better ways to perform your search. Using operators helps Google understand how to search for the keywords.

~(Tilde): synonym search
-attach the tilde to the word you want Google to also search synonyms for

*(Asterisk): placeholder for a word or phrase
-eg. city * directory
-Will find: City telephone directory, city address directory
-Be sure to use spaces on either side of the asterisk

…(ellipsis): numrange search
-eg. Bob Smith 1790…1830
-Results will include either date and any date that falls in between

-Google has indexed links, so if you find a website that is great, do a link search in Google to see if there are other sites that have listed the link. These websites might also have relevant information to your searches. To do a link search type the following search string:

-Google can search related websites. To do a related website search, type the following search string:

-Google can search within a website. To do a Google search within a specific site, type the following search string:
keyword site:www.__.com

Google cannot search within attachments or uploaded documents. So think about what someone would call this attachment or uploaded document and use keywords to describe that in your search.

Google images can help, especially when looking for maps or historical photos.

Advanced search features is helpful because you don't have to remember how to use Boolean operators.

Google book search allows you to find books in the public domain, and it is possible to search within the full-text of a particular book. Within the Google bookstore, there are also hidden free books. To find them, go to the Google Bookstore, type in keywords that describe the book/type of book you're looking for, and then choose "free" from the price drop-down menu. The list that results can only be found this way.

Google Earth is an excellent resource for genealogy. It is possible to search a specific location, and find other resources related to that location (include local history information).

Making iGoogle Your Genealogy Homepage
iGoogle creates a virtual workstation online. You can add what gadgets you want, and there are some genealogy gadgets to choose from (eg. FamilySearch, SIRIUS genealogy gadgets, WorldCat). It is also possible to create RSS feeds for specific blogs you would like to follow (an alternative to Google Reader).

FamilySearch: Records Access Program
Presented by: Stephen C. Young

Brief History of Family Search
-FamilySearch has been microfilming since 1938, and has the world’s largest genealogical collection, with 2.4 million rolls of microfilm and 3 billion record images.
-Many records are held at the Granite Mountain record vault, located in Salt Lake City.
-Microfilm technology is still important in the digital age, and records that are microfilmed by FamilySearch have copies created to send out to the various family history centres around the world.
-FamilySearch has partnerships with other organizations such as archives, churches, commercial genealogy vendors and genealogy associations and societies, which allows a greater access to records.
-The FamilySearch digital pipeline goes as follow:

Digitize-->Index AND/OR Metadata->View

-digital cameras are used to digitize records that will be available online. There are over 100 cameras operating each day.

In Regards to Metadata
-indexing records takes a lot of time, effort and is very expensive. For example, the indexing of the 1880 US Census took 17 years, the 1881 British Census took 9 years, and the 1881 Canadian Census took 5 years.
-indexing from digital images has gotten a lot faster, but the 1900 American Census still took 9 months
-metadata is like inserting chapters and subheadings into a book of images. Each chapter/subheading can define a type of record or a range of years.
-applying metadata is much quicker and less expensive than full indexing.
-some FamilySearch collections will be indexed in the future, but for the time being have had metadata applied and are available to look at on the FamilySearch website.

In Regards to Indexing
-through the hard work of volunteers around the world, indexing has been steadily increasing year by year.
-when indexing, each entry is entered 3 times to ensure accuracy.
-A-key: the first reading of a record and data inputted into indexing template
-B-key: The second entry of the same data by the fresh eyes of a different indexer
-Arbitration: Differences between the A-keying and B-keying are reviewed by an arbitrator who makes a decision on what is the correct transcription.
-it is possible for anyone to assist with the indexing. All that one needs to do is create a FamilySearch account at www.familysearchindexing.org, choose a project and begin. All documents are exchanged online. Currently there are about 35,000 daily volunteers worldwide who are on track to complete indexing 132 million records by July, 2012.

Toronto Trust Cemeteries Project
-A project initiated by the Toronto branch of the OGS with the goal of indexing Toronto cemetery records.
-the project is sponsored by FamilySearch
-It began in September 2009 with the indexing of 4 major cemeteries (York General Burying Ground, Necropolis Cemetery, Mount Pleasant Cemetery, Prospect Cemetery)
-To date, more than half of the project has been completed.

Saskatchewan Probate Estate Files Project
-project initiated by the Saskatchewan Genealogical Society with the goal of indexing probate estate files from the area.
-the so far completed index includes 35,000 records and 1.5 million images.

Making Bridges Across the Sea
Presenter: Joseph Wearing
Through the presentation of case studies, the presenter will demonstrate how to locate family members in Europe.

Case Study #1: Finding Great Grandfather
-Joseph’s father was very young when he died (around 10) so tracing his paternal line was difficult.
-His first clue was a birth registration he found of his grandfather.
-His second clue was a photo he was given of his great grandfather, taken in 1877.
-through contacting someone in England, he found someone who had information on his great grandfather that was located in a marriage record.
-When the English 1861 Census was eventually published, he found his great grandfather in it.
-Joseph somehow tracked down a document that had his great grandfather’s baptism. Two last names were listed, which led him to believe that his great grandfather had been born out of wedlock.
-He then wrote to the registry office for information on a possible “filiation order,” which is essentially a bastardization order. He found information there on the family that had cared for him.
-He later found a death record for his great grandfather. He then visited a library in the area of his great grandfather’s death asking for the whereabouts of the cemetery he was buried in. He was overheard by a different library staff member who said he had actually created an index of all those buried in that particular cemetery, and actually took him there.

Case Study #2: Finding a Pemberton brother who was not sent to Canada as a home child
-Through a message board, Joseph got in contact with someone who turned out to be a second cousin.
-This woman had done a lot of research already on the family history that Joseph could build on. Through this research, he found out that three relatives had come to Canada as home children, alone with no parents. He found out the mother of these children was widowed and then remarried. Joseph’s guess is that the new husband wanted to send off the older children so that he wouldn’t have to support them. The children left two months after the remarriage.
-One boy was not sent over as a home child. He later received an email from someone who wanted help finding information about his family that intersected with Joseph’s. I turns out this person was the great grandson of the boy who was not sent over.

Case Study #3: Locating an Irish family with very little information on the location of residence
-All Joseph knew about on branch of his mother’s family was that they lived in a place in Ireland where you could see Scotland on a clear day.
-The only other piece of information he knew was that he had two great great great grandfathers that were in the military. So, he did some research into military records, which provided him with a substantial amount of information, including the place of residence of both great great great grandfathers.
-Joseph also found a will naming the children, which he then used to search the Canadian census records with, where he was able to determine the approximate birth dates.
-He then sought out the baptismal records of the children, and went to Belfast to search the church records.
-In Belfast he found the baptism, and then found the location of the residence he was looking for.

Case Study #4: Finding a fourth cousin
-While attending a conference in Dublin, Joseph found out about the Dublin Register of Deeds. He decided to search through this register, which is where he found a deeds memorial that pertained to his family.
-Using this deed in his research, he then got in contact with a woman who Joseph shared relatives with, they just weren’t exactly sure how.
-He went and visited her where she presented him with a box of papers that were retrieved from a deceased family member’s shed. Within these papers was a beneficiaries to a will, and through further research Joseph determined that this woman was his fourth cousin.

Resources to Making Contacts Across the Sea

[http://www.genesreunited.co.uk]-“hot matches” are made using your name and year of birth. Joseph used it to contact about 20 fourth cousins.

-uses selected census in the UK, Canada and the US to make precise, accurate matches. Also has a very useful newsletter.

-Uses cheek swab DNA tests, as well as data entered by the user, to make matches.

-makes links across the whole family tree by matching autosomal chromosomes. Also has a “relative finder.”

Ancestry.com membership
-Use publicly published trees to make connections.

Ontario Vital Records: What Registrations Will and Won’t Reveal
Presented by: Stephen C. Young

Ontario Civil Registration
-1831, the Upper Canada Marriage Act enacted, whereby all marriages recorded by clergy were submitted to colonial authorities. However, not all clergy complied, so records are spotty, especially early on.
-1847 Census Act enacted
-1869, Act to Provide for the Registration of Births, Marriages and Deaths enacted. Division registrars transmitted original registration documents to the District Registrar, which were again forwarded to the Registrars at the General Office where they were arranged, indexed and bound. Although this was enacted in 1869, it was adopted in the provinces at varying times:

British Columbia, 1872
Manitoba, 1882
New Brunswick, 1888
Newfoundland, 1892
Alberta, 1898
PEI, 1906
Nova Scotia, 1909
Saskatchewan, 1920
Quebec, 1926

-1875, Registration Act was enacted, whereby the position of the Provincial Inspector of Vital Statistics was created. The job included visiting registration offices to regulate the registration procedures.

-1896 Registration Act was enacted, whereby the Division Registrar received a copy of a registration form completed by the person registering the event. These were indexed and copied into a new book to be kept at the district office, with a copies sent every six months to the Registrar General.

-1908, Vital Statistics Act enacted.

-1919, Vital Statistics Act enacted.

-However, not everyone complied with registration regulations for a variety of reasons including resistance to government legislation and the distance and/or expense in making a registration with a municipal clerk. As a result, many events were not registered, and many of those that were often contained mistakes or were incomplete. Notably, many child deaths were not reported.
-By 1911 not all births were recorded but marriage and death registrations generally were.

-In 1990, the Ontario General Registration Office released historical vital records to the Archives of Ontario for preservation and accessibility. Due to privacy laws, however, there are restrictions on the availability of records: births can be released 96 years after the registration date, marriages 81 years and deaths 71 years.

What Can Predictably Be Found in Registration Records
-date of birth
-place of birth
-parents’ names
-father’s occupation
-the resident of the informant
-name of attending physician
-remarks (which are often blank)

What Can Variably Be Found in Registration Records
-many times there were late registrations, often resulting because parents hadn’t registered their children. Now grown, these children who want to receive a pension or some other government service needed to register themselves because their parents had not. This occasionally resulted in two registrations as sometimes the original registration had a transcription error which resulted in it being lost.
-it was common until 1869 to register a stillbirth
-sometimes bundles of illegitimate births were registered at the same time, but often the name is missing.
-prior to 1869, amendments to registrations were made overtop of the original registration. However, after 1869, an amendment to a registration document required a separate amendment document.

What is Often Unanticipated When Looking at Records
-sometimes the remarks of a registration will contain information that can be invaluable.

The Unusual
-vital records can sometimes reveal the cause of death, including suicide, alcoholism, etc.
-name patterns sometimes crop up. For example, sometimes there is a family where all of the children in the family have the same middle name

Civil Registration Indexes
-Ancestry has Ontario registration indexes in their collection as well as scans of the pages.
-Death registrations on Ancestry don’t have the second page of the document (significant because the death registration form changed from vertical to horizontal), so one needs to request the actual microfilm to see the second page of the registration.

Exploring Some New and Less Familiar Pathways in Newspaper Research
Presented By: Mel Wolfgang

A Short History of Newspaper Publishing in North America
-newspapers have been around for about 350 years in North America, since 1690 when the first newspaper was printed in Boston called “Publick Occurances.”
-by 1720, newspapers in New York City and Philadelphia existed
-by 1752, the first Canadian newspaper was published as the Halifax Gazette
-between 1830-1840 the penny press appears. Previously newspapers were read primarily by the wealthy (mostly investors) and therefore the content was geared to this audience. With the advent of the penny press more members of the working class were reading newspapers, and therefore the content changed to appeal to them.
-by 1860 in Canada and the US there were over 3,000 hometown newspapers.
-by 1890 new large-scale city and national newspapers were created. Content was focused on sensational stories (whether they were true or not), which drew in large amounts of advertising dollars.
-After WWI the modern newspaper era began
-A typical 19th century newspaper could be described as follows:

Weekly, between 4-8 pages
Owned, printed and edited by one person
News came from other newspapers. If a story was interesting enough, it could end up in papers all over North America.
Content was exceedingly repetitive, as well as the layout.
Acted as a community diary that promoted events and a social conscience
Strong political affiliations: no neutrality of the press
Often ephemeral and hard to locate
May provide unique details about families and relationships

-by the mid-19th century newspapers had a mass appeal in North America

American Newspaper Bibliographies
-Early American Newspapers
-19th and 20th Century Newspapers
-Newspapers at the Library and Archives Canada
-Newspapers on Microfilm: a large 3 volume series compiled in 1984 by the Library of Congress. Volume 3 contains foreign country newspapers (which includes Canada). Each record says which library holds a particular newspaper microfilm.

Newspaper Directories
-it is always a good idea to do research about the materials you want to use (in this case, newspapers)
-directories published by third party entrepreneurs to sell to advertisers so that the advertisers could decide where they wanted to spend their ad dollars.
-currently there are 34 digital copies of newspaper directories (1875-1919) on the Library of Congress website. Searching here reveals the likelihood of finding copies of the newspaper in question and ferrets out smaller presses from larger ones or smaller version of a newspaper from larger ones.
-Canadian McKim Directory
-when looking in a directory for a newspaper, be sure to check multiple directories since there could be different pieces of information for a particular newspaper.
-National Endowment for the Humanities Newspaper Program’s goal was to identify all notable newspapers ever published in the US and microfilm and index them. This has since been superseded by the National Digital Newspaper Program whose goal is to take the microfilmed newspapers and digitize them to be offered on the Library of Congress website.

Searching Digitized Newspapers
-accuracy rates of search engines used by digitized newspapers vary greatly.
-accuracy depends on the image quality and the OCR software being used.
-one should be grateful for an accuracy of 80%, so it is therefore important to develop alternate search strategies. In other words, be sure to try different search terms before giving up on a resource since the search engine may not be able to properly read a particular keyword.

The Center for Research Libraries
-is an off the beaten track resource for newspaper research.
-By looking in the Membership Area, users can find a member library close to them.
-Member libraries can access newspaper collections that have been microfilmed, so their patrons can access them by placing an interlibrary loan.

International Coalition on Newspapers (ICON)
-a website highlighting international microfilm and digitization projects of newspapers
-it is possible for users to access newspapers published in their area of research

-there is a Wikipedia page for “online newspaper archiving” which lists every newspaper that has been digitized that anyone in the wiki-word has thought to add.
-segregated by country (and in Canada, by province)

University and College Newspapers
-university and college newspapers in the campus library archives is an underused source
-a lot of money has been given to the digitization/preservation of uni/college newspapers, which may contain stories on family members who attended a given school.
-alumni notes are often revealing

Documenting What You Find
-it is important to document your findings by creating a proper bibliographic entry so that should you need to access a given newspaper resource again you will be able to.
-at minimum it is good to record: the name of the story, the name of the paper, the location the paper was published, the date of publication, the page/column number, where you found the paper and the paper’s edition (as there is often more than one edition of a newspaper, especially for large cities)

Digging Up Genealogy Gems: Quebec Land Records
Presented by: Sharon Callaghan

-Land records can reveal a lot of details about family members including their marital status, marriage contracts, tudorships and wills
-in Quebec’s history there have been three different land registry systems. This means there are three separate record sources, depending on the time period and the location.
-narrowing down the when and where of an ancestor will reveal which record set to look in

Land System #1: Seigneury
-taken from the French system
-began in Quebec in 1626
-a seigneury is a large land tract that was usually near a waterway
-seigneurs would give concessions of land to tenants. The two parties had obligations to each other which were detailed in the notary contract.
-tenants could sell the land, but the obligation to the seigneur was passed along to the new tenant.
-each seigneury was broken down by lot numbers
-this system was abolished in 1854. At this time, tenants were permitted to buy out their land and seigneurs were obliged to sell it. Commissions were set up at this time to determine if tenants wanted to buy the land, and it ensured that the seigneur received fair value for the plot.
-there is a notarial database at the Library and Archives of Quebec (LAQ)
-seigneury records are available on microfilm in Quebec City. The information included in these records depending on the clerk who recorded the transaction. Each record lists all of the transactions that took place with a given seigneur’s plot and what notaries are related to each transaction.

Land System #2: Township
-began with the English regime in the 1870s. Based on English law.
-the pattern of distribution is quilt-like. Plots are divided by range and lot numbers.
-the seigneury system still existed at this time, but the township system was put in place where the seigneury system didn’t already exist.
-people could petition for a piece of land, and any further transactions were recorded in notary documents
-because the township and seigneury systems ran alongside one another, it is important to know where your ancestors were located so that you can determine which type of documents to look at.
-township petitions are searchable online at the LAQ.
-there is a publication that is searchable on Ancestry called “Lands Granted by the Crown in the Province of Quebec, 1763-1890.” It is composed of two volumes: the first volume is organized by township, and volume two is an alphabetical list of land grantees.
-the actual letter patents of the land grants are held at the archives center in Quebec City, which you will need to have the land identifier to access.

Land System #3: Cadastral
-the currently and only land registration system in Quebec that covers the entire province.
-it is European in origin and unique to North America
-it began in the 1830s
-by 1841, it was mandatory that notary copies be sent to the land registry office
-in this system, all of Quebec is divided into Circonscriptions (divisions), which were subsequently divided into cadastrals. These cadastrals were numbered starting at 1.
-you need the cadastral name and number in order to find corresponding records.
-assigning cadastrals took from the 1860s-1890s. Thereafter, the township and seigneur system was discontinued.
-currently, cadastrals are being reassigned numbers to seven digit codes
-cadastrals are searchable online by lot identifier only. You cannot search by your ancestor’s name. Tod perform this search, a pre-authorized credit card is required. All found records cost $1. There is an index for each lot, and a record of transactions (within the cadastral system) on a given lot up to the current day are available.

Understanding Townships, Districts and Counties in Ontario
Presented by: Serge Paquet

-municipalities and borders have changed over time
-many records are arranged by municipality, county and district (such as marriage and land records).

-a land survey and division unit
-divided into concessions
-concessions are divided into lot numbers

-are the basis for the court system
-the first districts were created in 1788 (Unenburg, Mecklenburg, Nassau, Hesse)
-there were 20 districts by 1849

-by 1791 there was the creation of Lower Canada and Upper Canada
-the first counties were created in 1792
-counties are the basis for electoral ridings and the militia
-land registry offices are located in counties
-19 counties were created in 1792, and there were 34 by 1849

Early Local Government
-there was one court per district that was responsible for minor criminal offenses
-local administration appointed the district treasurer, assessments for taxation, roads, jails, and more.
-villages, towns and cities could be managed by an elected Board of Police or Council. Administrative powers of these boards are similar to those of magistrates.
-by 1842, courts were replaced with elected local councils
-the incorporation of villages, towns and cities began in 1847.

Baldwin Act, 1849
-abolished districts, which were replaced by counties
-new municipal structures were enacted which included incorporated townships, police villages, villages, towns and cities.
-counties were covered by elected councils, which were responsible for regional infrastructure (county roads, land use planning, etc.)
-at this time many counties are merged together with unified councils and courthouses. However separate land registry offices were retained.

Northern Districts
-administrative structures for court and provincial services were not incorporated and there were no district councils.
-the reason for this is because there was a lower population that was also less dense.

After World War II
-Regional municipalities were created between 1955-1975, and they were mostly urban.
-regional municipalities had an increased level of planning powers compared to counties, and included all towns and cities.

Since the 1990s
-some counties of regional municipalities merged with their local municipalities. Thus, there was a reduction in the number of municipalities since the 1990s

Finding Counties and/or Districts
*Provide coordinates for municipalities at a given point in time
*the 1962 gazetteer was the last edition published before the merges occurred in the 1970s
*the 1974 gazetteer is another good resource if you’re looking for a municipality after the merges occurred
*Geographical Names of Canada is a good online resource.

-Municipal Directories
*published since 1949 by the Association of Ontario Municipalities
*Include a list of municipalities with elected and appointed officials, and also contains statistical information.
*recent directories include information about border changes and amalgamations

-Municipal Records of Ontario: History & Guide
*the speaker recommends every library in Ontario have this resource
*it includes an overview of municipal administration over time as well as municipal records
*lists municipalities, including changes that have occurred over time in a lot of detail.

-Changing Shape of Ontario
*an online resource available on the Archives of Ontario website
*contains information about districts, counties and how borders have changed throughout Ontario’s history
*includes digital copies of the 1950 province-wide map

Things to Watch For
-homonyms (places with the same name)
-name changes: districts, counties and municipalities have often changed name over time as well as merged with one another. Some early records have numbered townships that were later given names.
-border changes
-geographical townships vs. administrative townships: in the late 1840s, townships became incorporated, and therefore the administrative township is not necessarily the same as the geographic township.

Notable Questions from Question Period
Q: Why unify a county?
A: To save in administrative costs. Also, some unifications were only meant to be temporary, but ended up being permanent.

Q: Where do tracts fit into the equation?
A: Tracts don’t have any actual government powers as it is not a municipal unit. Tracts usually refers to large tracts of land.

Q: Why are there townships/counties that have strange geographic shapes?
A: The intention was to have more square shapes, but when on the ground and doing the surveying there are natural geographic markers that made more sense to use as dividers.

Q: What would happen to records in a recent merge?
A: Likely the new municipality would hold the records, but then again they m ay have been given to the regional archives or an archives like the Archives of Ontario. When there is an amalgamation, one of the townships is designated as a senior township, and the records go there. However, amalgamations usually still result in separate land registry offices, so those records will have to be found in the respective municipality.

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.5 License.