RESOURCES | Land Petitions online

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.

A Petitions was submitted with the aid of a notarial official, with supporting letters and documentation attached. The petition described the exact identity of the petitioner and location at this time, the details and circumstances of the family, migration history, qualifications for free grants, occupation and skills, oaths of allegiance and character references.

A petition was often referred to past councils – the ‘cover’ page of each petition contains a running summary of past orders and clarifications of identities. The result of a petition took the form of an Order-in-Council (O.C.) with specific date.

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 digitized versions of each microfilm reel.

The ‘Place’ column marks the Township or District the petitioner made application FROM, which may not be consistent with where they were recommended to take land. Not all petitioners followed through grants to deeds, nor in the areas recommended.

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

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

Searching Land Petitions in Upper Canada Sundries, RG 5 A1

Both collections are included in this online index:

1. Indexed by surname:

2. Then, the microfilmed images of the petitions can be viewed online – find the UCLP Microfilm reel here.

If the Collection is the RG 5 A1 Land Petitions in Upper Canada Sundries -find the UC Sundries Microfilm reel here

An example, searching the database for a Petition in Sundries:

Make note of:

– the Microfilm number
– the Page number (a range)

i.e. A page range expressed as 48554-48559.
Where expressed as i.e. 9049908-49914, isolate the first page number 9049908-49914

An example, searching the database for a UCLP:

Make note of:

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

Find the record:

An example, finding the images of the petitions:

Find the online Microfilm by reel number here.
Each digitized reel is @ 1000+ pages in PDF format, presented in a viewer with navigation controls.

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.

Written by Admin

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