RESOURCES | Upper Canada Land Petitions online

Written petitions seeking permission to settle Canada’s newly-opening frontiers, are important family history resources. Regardless of whether land was granted “free” (as in a grant for military service), or whether a settler paid patent fees, government permission was required.

Petitions were legal affidavits, submitted with the aid of a notarial official, with supporting letters and documentation attached. The petitions described such details as the exact identity of the petitioner, make-up and circumstances of the family, reasons for immigration, qualifications for free grants, occupation and skills, oaths of allegiance and character references.

Sometimes a petition was sent back for clarification or further evidence – the ‘cover’ page of each petition contains a running summary.

For a general understanding, consult the Archives of Ontario’s “Pathfinder to Petitions for Land“, and “Guide to Crown Land Records“, describe these record-sets.

Three primary collections of early Canadian Land Petitions are:

1) Upper Canada Land Petitions 1793-1867 (index and images online; involves a search),
2) Lower Canada Land Petitions 1764-1841 (index and images online), and
3) Petitions to the Crown Lands Department 1827-1904 (not online)

These collections are held either by the Library or Archives Canada or the Archives of Ontario.

As of 2012, most Upper Canada (Ontario) Land Petitions can be consulted online – first by searching a surname index, and then by locating the PDF versions of each microfilm reel.

Each listing in the index contains two locations – one was the Township or District the petitioner was residing at, and the other the location that the Government ‘recommended” to be settled. Petitions were not always followed through to the issue of patents, nor were they always issued for the recommended locations.

See more about the Land Districts mentioned (some Counties were not yet defined).

Searching Upper Canada Land Petitions 1793-1865, RG 1 L1

To find UCLP online:

1. Indexed by surname, the Upper Canada Land Petition indexes now be searched.

2. Then, the microfilmed images of the petitions can be consulted as PDF files online – look up the Microfilm reel here.

An example, searching the database:

From each indexed record, make note of:

– the Microfilm number
– the Bundle number
– the Petition number

Find the record:

An example, finding the images of the petitions:

Look up the Microfilm reel number here.
Each digitized reel is @ 1000+ pages in pdf format.

Click on the link to the microfilm and then use the page navigation bar. Enter a page number and/or use the arrows, as shown below:

Navigate to the correct bundle and petition… in the navigation pane, enter a page number: try 100 as a start. Click Go.

Scroll down to the bottom of the page and look at the reference tag for the Bundle number. In this case we have P Bundle 19 and we want P Bundle 21, so must go much further.

Navigate to a later page number, maybe page 1000, and go back and forth using page-number or arrows until you find the correct reference tag.

Now look at the petition number which will be at the top of the page, hand-written:

In this example the petition number is 45 and we want to go to back to find petition 20. Change the page number or use the arrows in the navigation area as shown:

Each petition is preceded by a marker page such as the lined page, above. Every once in a while, a loose page has been placed out of order in the neighbouring petitions. Also, neighbouring petitions may be from members of the same family or migrating group.

If the reference tag is correct and the petition number is correct, you should have arrived at the record:

The first page is often a chronology of the processing of the petition. A final decision can be a simple “recommended” or “not recommended”, scrawled in corner.

If the script is difficult to read, you may consult some transcriptions from my personal research, here.

RESOURCES | Maps showing Land Parcel Data

The Ontario Government’s ‘Make a Topographic Map’ online utility

It can be used to confirm modern land parcel data, you may also mark it up with personal boundaries and comments and save maps digitally for printing.

TIP: with each new location, re-enter the program from its home page:


Enter an address.

This address is in modern-day Seguin, Ontario. It can be located under both Parry Sound (large municipality) or by township name.

Select the targeted location on which to center the map.


Zoom in close and each individual lot is labelled with Township, Concession and Lot.

These labels are the modern Parcel descriptors, and may correspond with the historical lots shown on old maps. Sometimes through time, townships have become amalgamated or renamed.

Zooming in more, results in “Ontario Imagery” (satellite/aerial views).


Click-and-drag and zoom in-out to get the map view just right.
Then click ‘I want to…’ and select ‘Printing’

Select digital output format and make a title. Click ‘Print’ button.

Much more can be done with this utility!

RESOURCES | Find Lot Locations using the 1871 Census

Research 1871 CENSUS locations free online for ALL OF ONTARIO. The individual Township pages at this site, point to every Sched. 4 start page for every Enumeration Division in the Province! COPYRIGHT – the Surname databases, Look-up charts, Transcriptions and all Map geo-points are property of Lisa Rance, Orillia, 2011-current.

Determine the exact Concession & Lot locations where ancestors reported crops on the 1871 Census. This is helpful for differentiating families of a common surname. The ancestor need not have been a farmer – even small personal gardens on town lots, were reported.

See Tutorial

Muskoka and Parry Sound Lot Locations, 1871

I only recently became aware of the existence of an “agricultural” schedule for the 1871 Census of Canada. Here are a thousand+ surnames transcribed for Muskoka and Parry Sound using the cross-referencing procedure described here.

Total Records Found: 1005, showing 10 per page
[1871 surnames] Ryde Muskoka 1871. census check DRAPER Twp.
[1871 surnames] Oakley Muskoka 1871. census check DRAPER Twp.
Adams 1 Muskoka Muskoka 1871. census
Adams 1 Medora Muskoka 1871. census
Adams 3 Chaffey Muskoka 1871. census
Adelhard 1 Morrison Muskoka 1871. census
Alderman 1 Draper Muskoka 1871. census
Alexander 1 Watt Muskoka 1871. census
Algie 1 Hagerman Parry Sound 1871. census
Allard 1 McDougall Parry Sound 1871. census

RESOURCES | onLand Land Registry

In 2018 Service Ontario announced its project making available online the Ontario early land record ‘History Books’. Land Registry Offices closed for public search services in 2020.

It is required to know the historical County, Township and Concession location to search the Abstract Index of Deeds.

Access OnLand from this Website

At any Township page, access OnLand from the link in the left sidebar called ‘Land Registry’.

Arriving at the County index for ‘Historical Books’, immediately select the Township from the drop-down manu.

Enter the name of an historical Ontario COUNTY. Counties are expressed as ALL-CAPS.

Bottom right, select ‘Historical Books’ and Search…

From Book Category, select ‘Abstract/Parcel Register Book’

Abstract Index books for the entire county appear in the list. In the top-right corner, filter by Township.

Some land parcels may be filed under the names of towns / municipalities.

In this township, only one historical book is available. The Concession A and B are located on either side of the north-bouund Nipissing Road, and Concessions 1 to 14 are the grid of Concessions and Lots of the remainder of the township.

When viewing maps, Concessions are indicated by Roman numerals.



























PHOTOlog | gingerbread house in winter SIMCOE

ontario gothic farmhouse, historical mill

Paint required in Hillsdale, Ontario. Photo credit: Lisa Rance, September 2011

ontario gothic farmhouse in winter, gingerbread bargeboard

Cozy brick farmhouse tucked against a ridge on Line 8 North. Photo credit: Lisa Rance, February 2015

SIMCOE County | Medonte Township

PHOTOlog | stop this time PEEL

georgian architecture, museum at christmas

Christmas decor at historical Bovaird House, built 1852 in Brampton, by baker Peter Chisholm. This Georgian home features a McLaughlin cutter (sleigh), the remnants of an apple orchard, and early commercial baking implements. Photo credit: Lisa Rance, December 2014

pre-Confederation architecture, octagonal house, near Toronto

Early Octagonal House at 8273 Heritage Road, built about 1854 by Samuel McClure. French double doors are centered in each of the three sides which face the road. On the “commute”? Stop once. Photo credit: Lisa Rance, June 2015

PEEL County | Chinguacousy South Township

PHOTOlog | school’s out PEEL

caledon, historical, schoolhouse, bell tower, brickwork, buttress, pre-Confederation

Silver Creek Schoolhouse, S.S. No. 3, a private residence since 1967. Original schoolhouse built 1842, and the discovery of partially-scorched internal beams, indicate the structure may have been rebuilt at an early point. An unusual feature is its attached buttresses. It operated as a school until 1960, thereafter offered at public tender as a Centennial Project. The owners built an exact replica of the earlier bell tower. Obscured by trees in summer! Photo credit: Lisa Rance, April 2011

PEEL County | Caledon Township

PHOTOlog | early settlement on old waterways SIMCOE

colonial history, historical Canadian waterways

Innisfil township overlooks Cook’s Bay on Lake Simcoe – an important historic waterway – Samuel de Champlain came through here as did Sir John Franklin. Photo credit: Lisa Rance, May 2015

early Ontario fieldstone construction, first post office, fire

One of four heritage-designated buildings in Innisfil, the 1841 Barclay House, the township’s first post office, was destroyed by fire on New Year’s Eve 2014. Photo credit: Lisa Rance, March 2016

SIMCOE County | Innisfil Township

PHOTOlog | yellow brick relief PEEL

georgian, brickwork, side lights, pre-Confederation

When it was for sale in 2010, the property description for this, the historic Odlum House, built 1862, started: “First time in 148 years on MLS…”. (This was the first time this woman purchased more than $10 in lottery tickets at one time). At 3 Lucinda Court, Brampton, within a new estate of executive homes. Photo credit: Lisa Rance, December 2014

PEEL County | Gore of Toronto Township

PHOTOlog | the heights, the “bench” LINCOLN

Loyalist history, Niagara, vineyard, historical-preservation

The William Woodruff House, built 1827 at St. Davids “bench” (a sheltered ridge in the Niagara Escarpment). Dismantled in 1969 and moved to three separate owners throughout Ontario, it has been subsequently returned and rebuilt in 2009 at Ravine Vineyards, 1000m from its original location. Photo credit: Lisa Rance, February, 2012

Niagara Gorge, Queenston Heights, autumn

View from the “American side” – the Heights of Queenston, “scaled” by many armies. Photo credit: Lisa Rance, October 2011

LINCOLN County | Niagara Township