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Ontario GenWeb Project: Land Records
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Land Records

What Is It

Land Records would, of course, refer to any record relating to a piece of land. Land Records can be used to discover exactly where your ancestor lived and when he lived there. Knowing this can lead you to other resources available for that area. Some land records give more than just information on location, sometimes they also tell you family relationships and in rare cases other documents such as wills are filed with the land record (in the case of a land owner dying and the land is being transferred through inheritence)

Crown Land Records were records created when a settler tried to obtain crown (government) land. This included:

  • Upper Canada Land Petitions - A petition (letter) from a settler to the Lieutenant Governor requesting a grant of crown land prior to 1827. Up to 1826 most settlers were able to petition for free land grants, after 1826 free grants were available only to loyalist or military settlers. All other settlers had to purchase land.

  • Patents - Received by settlers who were successful in their quest to obtain a grant of Crown Land through a settlement agreement (i.e. clearing land in a specific time period). Patents were not received by those who obtained land through a free land grant. Patents were not issued at the time of the grant, they were issued after the settlement agreement was complete. As this process could take years you may have to look at a decade or so of records to find the one you seek.

  • Township Papers - These land records are specific to a piece of land within a specific township and its ownership. To use these records you should know the location of the land that you're researching (lot number, concession number). Once found you can learn who owned this piece of property and when they owned it.

  • Ontario Land Registry Office Records were records created after land had been granted by the government. This includes transfers of land from one person to another (through sale, inheritence, etc.), and deeds.

    More information about the types of land records can be found by visiting any one of the links listed below.

    How Do I Find It

    To find a land record you should have an idea of where in Ontario your ancestor lived. An exact location isn't needed to find their land petition, but if you plan to trace the properties they may have owned you will need to learn the exact location. To do this use other resources such as the Land Records Index*, city directories and census records. You could also try pretty much any other type of record that might give an address or location (newspapers, etc).

    *The Land Records Index was created by the Archives of Ontario and is available on microfiche (check your local library or family history centre) and as a computerized index (available at some Canadian libraries). This index is province-wide, includes records starting from the 1790's, and can be searched by surname of settler or by township of settlement. Once your ancestor is found on the index it will tell you where to locate the actual record.

    How Do I Use It

  • Upper Canada Land Petitions - These petitions are indexed by surname with place of application, date of petition and the number of the petition (which you will use to locate the actual petition on microfilm). The index is available for viewing from the National Archives of Canada and Family History Centres. Some libraries also have copies of the index - be sure to ask at your local library.

  • Patents - Indexed by Township (1795-1850) and by surname (1795-1825). Indexes for 1850 to present day are available at the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources.

    What Does It Offer

  • Upper Canada Land Petitions - Name of petitioner, date of petition, military regiment if applicable. Some might also include a brief synopsis of how they came to petition for land and why they should be granted the land - an autobiography of sorts that might include names of family members, when they arrived in Canada, where they came from, and if they should get special attention (i.e. they're a soldier or loyalist).

    What Does It Look Like

    The examples below show three different land records.


    If you have an Ontario land record that is different from these examples, please consider sending it in to be included as an example.

    Where Can I Find It

  • Upper Canada Land Petitions - Library & Archives Canada; Archives of Ontario.
  • Patents - Archives of Ontario; Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources; Ministry of Government Services
  • Township Papers - Archives of Ontario
  • Ontario Land Registry Office Records - Land Registry Offices across Ontario (see links below). Deeds can be viewed on microfilm at the Archives of Ontario but you can only obtain a copy of a deed through the Land Registry Office.

    Is It Online?

    Finding Ontario Land Records online is hit or miss. There isn't an organized effort to bring any of these records online. Land Records known by OntarioGenWeb to be online are linked below.

    Alternate Resources

  • Census
  • City Directories
  • Newspaper

    Related Material

  • Questions & Answers
  • Books
  • Links
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        Ships Lists
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        Ten Ontario Research Tips

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