RESOURCES | 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.

Some collections of early Canadian Land Petitions are:


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


4) Lower Canada Land Petitions 1764-1841 (index and images online), and

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 and Land Records in Sundries 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 applying from, and the other the location that the Government ‘recommended” to be settled. Petitioners did not always follow through the requirements to issue patents, nor do so at the recommended locations, nor actually move to those lands.

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.

If the Collection is the RG 5 A1 Land Petitions in Upper Canada Sundries -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 adjacent petitions. Also, the nearby 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”, written 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 (Ministry of Natural Resources)

It can be used to confirm modern land parcel data; you may center it to a location and zoom-level and save maps digitally for printing.

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


Most rural property descriptors follow the historical townships and lot locations. Alternately, search by street address (see below).

Start typing a Township name, or use the drop-down arrow to search alphabetically.


Click-drag the map to center it, and Use the + and – zoom buttons. At a certain zoom level, look for Con/Lot tags in the center of the lots. For those tags to appear on the digital print, stay at this zoom level.

The default resolution for the default PDF print is 96dpi. The default page size to print on is standard letter-sized. The area will be masked in pink. You can adjust the options.


TIP: Use the name of the larger municipality; in this example ‘Sydenham’ didn’t work, but ‘Meaford’ did. Keep it simple: if you have a road name and a rural route number, leave out the RR.

No street number? i.e. R.R. only? Check out Ken McKinlay’s Finding on the Ground – A Rural Route Address in Ontario.

Unsure of the modern municipality? At this site, go to the Township’s page and click the Info icon on the map.


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.



ONland is the Ontario Government’s portal for Land Registry services.


No, but at the Block level, there may be.. at ONland, above.

But here’s what you might do if you don’t have a street number:

  • Google Earth or Google Maps may have tiny residential numbers if you zoom in close enough.
  • You can capture the geographical coordinates (latitude and longitude) and enter those later into the Google Maps address bar to pin an exact location.
  • 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
    Allman 1 Foley Parry Sound 1871. census
    Almond 1 McDougall Parry Sound 1871. census
    Alport 1 Muskoka Muskoka 1871. census
    Ames 1 Medora Muskoka 1871. census
    Anderson 1 Medora Muskoka 1871. census
    Anderson 2 Morrison Muskoka 1871. census
    Anderson 1 Stephenson Muskoka 1871. census
    Andrew 6 Hagerman Parry Sound 1871. census
    Ansley 1 Cardwell Muskoka 1871. census
    Arens 1 Morrison Muskoka 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.