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Ontario Origins/Quebec Quests

Ann Logan-Morden


Many researchers have traced a few generations of their familyís history, only to hit a brick wall because of the perceived lack of records in early Ontario. Civil registration of births and deaths did not begin until 1869, and lack of compliance for many years after its introduction mean that many events were not registered.

During the years 1858-1869, marriages were to be reported to the county, and 1869 brought provincial registration; however, Catholic marriages were often still not being reported.

Early Ontario was organized by Districts, and some marriage registers exist from the first decades of the 1800ís. Clergymen were supposed to send in a copy of their registers every year to their district office; however, not all did as requested. Catholics in particular did not make returns until much later in the century. A significant number of the population was served by travelling preachers, whose registers were sometimes lost or destroyed.
Nevertheless, early church registers do exist for both the French and English populations, and many have been microfilmed or transcribed, so are available for searches.

Cemetery and burial records are also available for nearly all cemeteries in the province.

Newspaper birth, marriages and deaths are also a good source for family information.


Probate records dating from 1793 to 1963 are available at the Archives of Ontario.


In addition to Upper Canada Land Petitions filed by Loyalists and settlers wishing to obtain land grant from the Crown, the following records are available to search:

Township Papers record the history of a lot within that Township before it passed from the Crown to individual ownership.

Registrar of Deeds: organized by county, township, concession and lot, these records reveal the history of a property from the time a patent was issued by the Crown. Deeds often reveal relationships, and wills were filed with the Registrar of Deeds if the primary asset of the deceased was land. Directories and maps may help pinpoint the location of an ancestor.

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