RESOURCES | FamilySearch Land Registry & Records

RESOURCES | FamilySearch Land Registry & Records

Searching for residential details of ancestors residing in Ontario, Canada? When the Township / Concession / Lot locations are already known, search Land Records at the free genealogy site

Part One: Search the Abstract Index Books to find lookup details – Year of Registration and Instrument Number.

Part Two: Look up the land conveyance documents in Land Record Books and/or the General Register (Probate). These can contain interesting family details… even wills.

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

Access the FamilySearch Catalog

Video Demo > > > >       

1. Log into your free account at
2. From the menu bar select ‘Search’.
3. From the dropdown menu select ‘Catalog’

4. The default search field is Place. Leave that.
5. Enter the name of the historical county, in the following format:
Canada, Ontario, Waterloo
6. Just leave it at the *county level* even though the townships show up in a dropdown offering.

7. For Availability: check the ‘Online’ box, and Search.

8. Select the category: ‘Land and Property’.

Abstract/Parcel Register Books

See RESOURCES | onLand Land Registry

Video Tutorial: Pt. 1 Abstract Indexes

Video Tutorial: Pt. 2 Land Documents (Instruments)

Be Sure of Land Parcel Descriptions
As found in a directory or census, a concession / block might be coded such as ‘NBTR’. The Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources has a township-navigator as part of its arcGIS mapping utility. See instructions here.
Example shown for Southwold Township.

The Abstract Index Books

Video Demo > > > >       

9. Within the County’s ‘Land and Property’ category in the FamilySearch Catalog, select ‘Abstract Index Books’.

10. Find the target township, and click the camera icon to view the images on the digitized microfilm. Locked out? Try re-logging in to the account.

11. The navigation tools include a thumbnail view, or a place to enter a page number, or a set of arrows to advance between images. The images (usually) appear in order by Concession / Lot.

See Tutorial Video Pt. 1 for examples.

12. To continue into a Search of the land conveyance documents (Instruments or Memorials), essentially record the Year of Registration and Instrument/Memorial number. The date of Registration is the ‘When Recorded’ column. Registration of a deed or will often occurred many years after the agreement was written.

Video Tutorial: Pt. 1 Abstract Indexes

Video Tutorial: Pt. 2 Land Documents (Instruments)

Wills & Other Records for Family Historians
Jane Macnamara’s book ‘Inheritance in Ontario: Wills and Other Records for Family Historians” is available as an e-book, and may be free to view through your Ontario library’s digital holdings on the Hoopla platform.

County Land Records & General Registers (Probate)

Video Demo > > > >       

Within the County’s ‘Land and Property’ category in the FamilySearch Catalog, select ‘Land Records of [the county]’.

Land conveyance agreements / mortgages and estate settlements are also found in ‘General Register’. My recommendation is to search the ‘Land Records’ books, first, and if unsuccessful, to try the General Registers.

13. In this example, the numbers in red / blue are the Instrument numbers and Years of Registration we found in the Abstract Indexes. We now wish to find the documents themselves.

Note, in this first example, the digitized microfilm contains three separate Volumes. Each volume is described with a range of dates, as well as the range of Instrument / Memorial numbers (in brackets).

The first two lookups should be found on this film, because the Instrument Numbers and Dates of Registration, are matching the ranges.

Another example of how the land records films were described in the Abstract Index… this time a Year of Registration and the Book / Volume Number. A notation referred to Halton County extracts even though Waterloo Township falls under Waterloo County, and sure enough we had to check in Halton Co records.

14. To view the collection, hit the camera icon. To navigate through the images, use the thumbnail viewer and scroll. If the microfilm contains multiple books, dark plates identify the start-pages of each section.

The Instrument numbers are written in the margins.

Video Tutorial: Pt. 1 Abstract Indexes

Video Tutorial: Pt. 2 Land Documents (Instruments)

Deciphering the ‘Legalese’
The RORDAN’S Canadian Conveyancer manual of 1859 is available as an e-book. The text is searchable.

Written by Admin

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