Grand River Branch

United Empire Loyalists' Association of Canada

 

 

 

 


Selected Reprints from the

Grand River Branch Newsletter, Branches



 

"The Advent of the Formation of The County System From Districts in Ontario - PART II"

Angela E.M. Files, November 2003, Vol.15 No.2, Pages 4-6

 


 

  

1.    Districts, Part of the Municipal System in Upper and Lower Canada 

    The term "district" was used in the commencement of British rule in Canada to indicate the subdivision of the country, either unorganized and created chiefly for judicial purposes. 

    During the military rule in Canada between the years 1760 and 1764, Canada was divided into the District of Québec, Three Rivers (Trois-Rivières) and Montréal.

2.   The Formation of Lancaster District in Upper Canada

    Two years before the commencement of the American Revolution, Sir Guy Carleton, Governor of Québec (1766 - 1778) in the Québec Act of 1774, gave the name "Lancaster" to the upper district referred to as the Western Settlement (1).  It was through his efforts that the American invasion of Canada (1775-1776) was defeated.

3.   The Division into Four Districts

    In July 1778 during his second term as governor, Sir Guy Carleton split Lancaster into four districts: Lunenberg, Mecklenberg, Nassau and Hesse.  Three years later Lieutenant Governor John Graves Simcoe anglicized the German names of the districts to Eastern, Midland, Home and Western.

4.   The Advent of the County System

    The advent of the division of these four large districts into counties began in the year 1792!  Lieutenant Governor John Graves Simcoe named the first 19 counties of Upper Canada: Glengary, Stormount, Dundas, Grenville, Leeds, Frontenac, Ontario, Addington, Lennox, Prince Edward, Hastings, Northumberland, Durham, Lincoln, York Suffolk (abolished in 1796 to become part of Middlesex) Kent and Essex.  Other counties were formed at later dates (2).

5.   Searching For Your Loyalist Ancestors in County, District and Township Records

    In searching for your early Loyalist ancestors, it is wise to look for township, county and district records.  Some of this important information is in the holdings of the county or on microfilms at the  Archives of Ontario , 77 Grenville St, Toronto ON  M7A 2B9.  Please remember that at the turn of the 20th century the two-tiered system of Ontario municipal government of townships and counties changed to a one-tier system of counties.  many township records were deposited within county holdings. 

 To ease your task of Loyalist ancestral hunting in the maze of districts and counties, I've listed the early Ontario counties and the corresponding districts:


County

 

Part of Which District




Addington

  Created in 1792 (merged with Lennox County in 1800)

  Midland, 1792-1800
Bruce

  Created in 1849

  Huron, 1849
Carleton

  Created in 1800 (from Dundas and Grenville Counties)

  Johnstown, 1800-1824

Bathurst, 1824-1838

Dalhousie, 1838-1849

Dufferin

  Created in 1874 (from Grey, Simcoe and Wellington Counties)

  No corresponding district
Dundas

  Created in 1792

  Eastern, 1792-1849
Durham

  Created in 1792

  Home, 1792-1802

Newcastle, 1802-1849

Elgin

  Created in 1851 (from Middlesex County)

  No corresponding district
Essex

  Created in 1792

  Western, 1792-1849
Frontenac

  Created in 1792

  Midland, 1792-1849
Glengarry

  Created in 1792

  Eastern, 1792-1849
Grey

  Created in 1851 (from Simcoe County)

  No corresponding district
Grenville

  Created in 1792

  Eastern, 1792-1798

Johnstown, 1798-1849

Haldimand

  Created in 1800 (from Norfolk County)

  Niagara, 1800-1845

Talbot, 1845-1849

Haliburton

  Created in 1874

  No corresponding district
Halton

  Created in 1816 (from York County [West Riding])

  Gore, 1816-1849
Hastings

  Created in 1792

  Midland, 1792-1839

Victoria, 1839-1849

Huron

  Created in 1835 (from London District)

  London, 1835-1841

Huron, 1841-1849

Kent

  Created in 1792

  Western, 1792-1849
Lambton

  Created in 1837 (from Kent County)

  Western, 1837-1849
Lanark

  Created in 1824 (from Leeds County)

  Bathurst, 1824-1849
Leeds

  Created in 1792

  Eastern, 1792-1798

Johnstown, 1798-1849

Lennox

  Created in 1792 (merged with Addington County in 1800)

  Midland, 1792-1800

County

 

Part of Which District




Lincoln

  Created in 1792

  Home, 1792-1800

Niagara, 1800-1849

Middlesex

  Created in 1800

  London, 1800-1849
Norfolk

  Created in 1792

  Home (part) and Western (part) 1792-1798

London, 1798-1837 and Talbot, 1837-1849

Northumberland

  Created in 1792

  Home, 1792-1802

Newcastle, 1802-1849

Ontario

  Created in 1792 (Abolished in 1800) Comprised of the islands in the St.Lawrence River

  Midland, 1792-1800
Ontario

  Created in 1851 (from York County)

  No corresponding district
Oxford

  Created in 1800

  London, 1800-1839

Brock, 1839-1849

Peel

  Created in 1851 (from York County [East Riding])

  No corresponding district
Perth

  Created in 1849

  Huron, 1849
Peterborough

  Created in 1838 (from Durham and Northumberland Counties)

  Colbourne, 1838-1849
Prescott

  Created in 1800 (from Glengarry County)

  Eastern, 1800-1816

Ottawa, 1816-1849

Prince Edward

  Created in 1792

  Midland, 1792-1834

Prince Edward, 1834-1849

Renfrew

  Created in 1845 (from Lanark County)

  Bathurst, 1845-1849
Russell

  Created in 1800 (from Stormont County)

  Eastern, 1800-1816

Ottawa, 1816-1849

Simcoe

  Created in 1792

  Home, 1821-1843

Simcoe, 1843-1849

Stormont

  Created in 1792

  Eastern, 1792-1849
Victoria

  Created in 1851 (from Peterborough County)

  No corresponding district
Waterloo

  Created in 1840 (from Halton, Huron and Simcoe Counties)

  Wellington, 1840-1849
Welland

  Created in 1845 (from Lincoln County)

  Niagara, 1845-1849
Wellington

  Created in 1851 (from Waterloo County)

  No corresponding district
Wentworth

  Created in 1851 (from Haldimand, Lincoln and York [West Riding] Counties)

  Gore, 1816-1849
York

  Created in 1792

  Home, 1792-1849

End Notes :
1 - Sir Guy Carleton, First Baron Dorchester, Lieutenant-Governor, then Governor of Québec 1768-1778, Governor-in-Chief of British North America 1782-1783 and 1786-1796; born September 3, 1724 in Strabane Ireland; died November 10, 1808 at Stubbings, near Maidenhead England.
2 - John Graves Simcoe, soldier, first Lieutenant Governor of Upper Canada (Ontario), born February 25, 1752 at Cotterstock, Northumberland England; died October 26, 1806 at Exeter England.  He arrived in Upper Canada in July 1792 and chose Newark (Niagara) as his capital: the first elected assembly met in September 1792 in which 19 counties were formed in Upper Canada.  By building roads and offering generous land grants he opened Upper Canada to American immigrants.