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Peterborough County Land Records

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.

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.

Ontario Land records are organized by townships, concessions and lots. Early townships were divided into concessions. A BF concession refers to a Broken Front which is an uneven piece of land along a river or other geographical feature. A Gore may be a leftover piece of land in a township after being surveyed; it is not as wide as a regular concession.

Archives of Ontario(AO)
77 Grenville Street
Toronto, Ontario M7A 2R9
416 327-1600

Peterborough Land Registry Office #45 300 Water St., South Tower, 2nd Floor
P.O. Box 7000
Peterborough, Ontario
K9M 8M5
705 755-1342

Trent Valley Archives has the original Peterborough County land records with original instruments.
567 Carnegie Avenue
Peterborough, Ontario
705 745-4404

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