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Have you hit a brick wall with your Ontario County ancestors? Search for your family origins on Ontario County GenWeb. I hope this site will help you find that brick-wall ancestor.
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Ontario County GenWeb

The following explanation of Ontario Land Records was posted on Ontario-L Mailing List by Lorine McGinnis Schulze of Olive Tree Genealogy and is posted here with permission

Land 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.

The CLRI (Computerized Land Record Index) is an index (not on computer!) which summarizes land grants from sales of of Crown Land in Ontario from Canada Company sales and leases, and from Peter Robinson settlers' grants. It provides invaluable clues for further research! Most settlers bought land soon after arrival, although of course there were exceptions to this - some lived with family previously settled, others had no urgent need for land (a blacksmith didn't need land as urgently as a farmer for example)

The CLRI only shows the first time owner of Crown Land so if your ancestor purchased land from someone else his name will not show on this index but it is still a very useful tool. Not only does it provide you with exact location (township, lot #, concession #) it provides you with a date of transaction, whether or not there were special circumstances surrounding the transaction (a free grant, a hardship grant, a military grant, etc), and it provides you with an Archival Reference number.

This Archival Reference number can provide more detail; often it does not but it is still a stone that should be turned. With a date of transaction you have narrowed the field for immigration. Beyond that the value of the CLRI is in the interpretation of the one line index entry which can lead you to other avenues of research. I have a more detailed explanation of the CLRI and other land records in Ontario on my site under my ONTARIO RESEARCH section.

Once you have the exact land location for your ancestor (lot, concession #, township and county) you can venture into more records such as the Abstract Indexes to Deeds and Township papers, which can contain a wealth of genealogical treasure!

Location of Land Records

Upper Canada Land Petitions

Upper Canada Land Petitions (UCLP) are the actual Petitions for land which were submitted in Upper Canada (Ontario). They frequently contain information about the petitioner and his or her family. Loyalists and discharged soldiers often mentioned the regiment in which they served. There were two types of land petitions:
  • pre 1827 petitions for free grants of land under the UEL and military categories
  • post 1827 petitions for purchase of Crown lands

Land Books

Land Books are basically a summary of land grants. They rarely contain more info than name, date and location. Sometimes they have little gems in the comment section. But they're helpful because if you can't find a petition in the UCLP it may be in the Land Book so at least you have some record of the event.

Township Papers

Township Papers are a miscellaneous group of land-related records have been arranged by township name, then by concession and lot or by town name and lot number. They're a mixed bag - they may contain correspondence re land, some petitions, copies of orders-in-council, etc

Abstract indexes to Deeds

The Abstract Indexes to Deeds are the indexed record of every transaction on a plot of land since it left Crown ownership. Fathers willed land to sons or to wives or daughters. Men parcelled off smaller sections of land and sold it to sons. Brothers settled near each other, or on the same land. Armed with 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 document.

Free Grants

Up to 1826 free land grants were available to all settlers, to government favourites, and to UEL (Loyalist) children. In 1826 these free grants were abolished except Loyalist grants and soldiers, and anyone wanting Crown land had to buy it.

The Canada Company

Settlers 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.

Assessment & Tax Records

Assessment 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.

CLRI (Computerized Land Records Index)

Also called the Ontario Land Record Index, this summarizes land grants from sales of Crown 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 buyer of Crown Land, he will be on these lists. A CLRI lookup service [$] is available online.
 

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I can't answer queries as I don't live in Ontario County but a great place to start is the AskOliveTree blog where you can submit your genealogy challenges and brickwalls to Lorine for help.


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