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Greg's Notes on How To Research

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This is a place for Greg (for starters at least) to keep notes on HOW to most efficiently get to some of the most helpful, though sometimes complicated, resources available for Canada and Ontario records.

Ontario Resources page on WikiTree

Cyndi's List for Ontario resources



Library and Archives Canada - home page

Home page for Microform Digitization - collection of PDFs of microfilms that have been digitized, and still viewable (ARCHIVED - not updated)


Censuses home page

Historical Atlases

The Canadian County Atlas Digital Project

Maps page - Government of Canada website

Land Records

Land Records home page



List of Micro-Form #s and direct links to PDFs from digitization for Land submissions to the Executive Council

Upper Canada Land Petitions

Contents: Original requests for land - original settlers to the land, United Empire Loyalists, military grants (War of 1812)

1. On the Search page enter search criteria.
2. Make note of results to go to next step:
SurnameGiven Name(s)PlaceYear VolumeBundlePetitionPage(s) ReferenceMicrofilm
BAILLYHonoréWhitchurch182345B 13152 RG 1 L3C-1626
3. Find the link to the Microfilm you want in the Direct link to list of Microforms for Upper Canada Land Petitions (1763-1865)
4. Click on appropriate link, then, using the Volume, Bundle, and Petition number, advance through the PDF until you find the record you want. NOTE: Each application may have multiple pages, often using letters to indicate extra pages from the same Petition (53, 53a, 53b, 53c ....)
In the above example, the entry itself began on image 724 of 1044 and went as far as image 733.
5. Read the details carefully, there will be lots of information, some of it relevant now, and some possibly later in other searches for family connections. IN particular take note of margin notes - these often are added after the original petitions to indicate follow up cases, or resolutions, with dates and details.
Found in the margins in this example: Entered in Land Book, L , page 464
NOTE: If you can't find a margin note pointing you to a Land Book entry, you can also search the Index to the Upper Canada land books, by Susan Smart, King Butler, Ontario Genealogical Society., Ontario Genealogical Society. A copy can be found in some libraries, or portions of it available for purchase and download from the Ontario Ancestors (OGS) website.
6. Assuming you now have a Land Book entry to follow up on, go to the Guide to Upper Canada Land Books on the Canadiana Héritage Project website to find the microfilm you will need.
In this example, that would be C-103, near the end of it apparently, which matches with the 1823 date in the margin.
7. Head over to the List of Reels on the Canadiana Héritage website, and click on the one you want.
8. Search the reel, by page number, or you can also use the text search box to help speed up the process (usually works).

Upper Canada Sundries

Contents: Correspondence of the civil and Provincial secretaries, often land related inquiries

1. Start at the List of Content for the Sundries, which outlines the years covered and the microfilms attached to those.
2. If the person you are searching is in the earliest set, up to 1815, you can use the online index on UpperCanadaGenealogy.com to quickly search for them, and find the page number of their record. This is a good starting place, even for later, as there is a smattering of people indexed from later years.
e.g. search for Robert Comfort returns this information
Last NameFirst NameYearMonthDayPlacePages
ComfortRobert1810June9Lieutenant Governor's Office4904-5
3. If that search of the UpperCanadaGenealogy site doesn't work, then, before you resort to page by page viewing of the microfilm PDF (always an option, though never a desirable one as it is time-consuming !), check out the Finding Aids listed on the PAGE, about half way down. Use the date as a guide to choose the Finding Aid you want, then open up the PDF. The PDFs are named sequentially, going from p000002176.pdf (which covers from late 1700s to 1816) top000002193.pdf (which covers October 1839 to December 1839).
These Finding Aid PDFs may or may not be searchable inside a browser - BUT - if you download the PDF to your computer, you may be able to use OCR technology to convert it to text using software such as Adobe Acrobat. Once that is done, use the search function to find the notation in the Finding Aid.
e.g. search for Robert Comfort in the PDF returns this helpful information
June 9 , Halton to Wm. Firth. Asking his opinion on report of a
Lt . Gov.' s committee on the petition of Robert Comfort for land in
Office. township of Gainsborough . pp . 4904-4905 .
4. Return to the list at the top of the page, and find the number of the microfilm you need to search for based on the page number(s) from the index / finding aid, then
5. Go to the List of Microfilms for the Upper Canada Sundries on the Canadiana Héritage website, choose the microfilm you want, and the page based on the index / finding aid note.
Note that on the page with the microfilm, there is a search function you can use, or, you can use the navigation buttons to switch to the appropriate page numbers directly. It is probably helpful to try the search as well, in case there are additional records that were missed on the original indexing.

Heir and Devisee Commission - Upper Canada, 1797 to 1854

Contents: The Heir and Devisee Commission was established in 1797 to clarify the titles to lands. Records can include affidavits, bonds, location certificates, powers of attorney, orders-in-council, copies of wills, mortgages, deeds of sale and testimonial letters. (from Library and Archives Canada description)

1. Go to Reference Guide: The Heir and Devisee Commission, 1777-1854 to see the listing of microfilms available, and what to expect to find in each one.
2. Then, go to List of Microfilm for Heir and Devisee commission,
3. Select a reel,
4. Use the search box to do a text search.

Until an index or listing of sorts is discovered, this is best I can come up with for a strategy. Luckily, the # of reels is a manageable number (only 21)

Second Heirs and Devisees

Contents: Records about land transfers from original owners to their heirs, or others they transfer / sell the land to.

1. Check out Microfilm vs FamilySearch Film Number translation index table. VERY useful if you know the Reference Code or Microfilm Reel # and want to know how to find the records on FamilySearch website.
2. Once you have located the proper Microfilm, use the table (above) to find the Film Number reference. Go to the FamilySearch website to do a Catolog search, and click on the Film/Fiche Number option, then enter that multi-digit code!

Township Papers

Contents: Land requests and other records, organized by Township, and by Lot & Concession within that.

1. Go to the List of Townships with Microfilm reference, to see the complete list of townships available.
2. Search for the Township in question on FamilySearch to view actual records - either in the A to H set or the and https://www.familysearch.org/search/catalog/2759321?availability=Family%20History%20Library H to Z] set.
3. Townships are listed alphabetically, if more than one in a collection, and then by Concession and Lot.

Wills and Probates

Contents: Wills, Probate and Surrogate papers

1. Check the List of Estate Probate records that are currently on the FamilySearch website. These are listed by County, and not all years are available online.
2. If the will you're looking for is not online, however, follow the instructions given on this Wills and Estate Files - Pathfinder instructions page.
3. If you're looking for Lincoln County, specifically, go here.

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