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Ontario GenWeb Project: 1791-1799
Research By Year
  • Overview
  • Timeline
  • Governing Entity

  • Places
  • What's Available
  • Related Material

  • Presented here is a brief overview of what transpired in 'Ontario' between 1791-1799. This is by no means a full account, and many events have been left out. If you are interested in an in-depth view of this time period, please read the sources used as well as other history books that cover this time period.


    Ontario did not get its present name until 1867. During this time period it was known as Upper Canada.

    A complete Overview is coming soon...


    1791(10 Jun 1791) Constitutional Act (also known as the Canada Act) divides Québec into Upper & Lower Canada, which establishes English Law and land tenure in Upper Canada. Upper Canada (now Ontario) was all land lying west of the Ottawa River, while Lower Canada (now Québec) was all land lying east
    1791John Graves Simcoe and his council divide Upper Canada into nineteen counties
    1791Population of Upper Canada: 10,000
    1792(17 Sep 1792) First legislature is convened at Newark (Niagara-on-the-lake)
    1792Construction of The Governor's Road - planned by John Graves Simcoe - begins at the fork of the Thames (London). By the following fall the road reaches as far as the Grand River
    1792John Graves Simcoe is sworn in as Upper Canada's first Lieutenant Governor
    1792The first Methodist Church in Upper Canada is established at Adophustown
    1793(18 Apr 1793) First Ontario newspaper (Upper Canada Gazette) is published in Newark
    1793(9 July 1793) Upper Canada's Abolition Act forbade any new slaves, and gave freedom to children of slaves at least 25 years of age if born after 1793
    1793Probate & District Surrogate Courts are established
    1793The Marriage Act: Anglican and Catholic clergy as well as Justices of the Peace are granted the right to perform marriages
    1794Capital of Upper Canada is transferred from Newark to York
    1794Several mass land grants are approved for the immigration of specific groups: William Berczy receives 64,000 acres in York County for German families from New York; Able Stevens receives land in Leeds County for 200 Baptists from Vermont
    1796Yonge Street, what was to become the world's longest road, is opened for travel. At this time it measured a mere 34 miles from York to Pine Fort Landing.
    1798Marriage Act allows marriages to be legally performed by the Anglican Church, Catholic Church, Church of Scotland, Presbyterian Church, Calvinist Church and Lutheran Church
    1798(22 May 1798) The Penetanguishene Bay Purchase, registered as Crown Treaty Number Five, was signed May 22, 1798 between the Chippeway and the government of Upper Canada. It purchased the lands around Matchedash Bay on Lake Huron for a price of 101 pounds.

    Do you know of any other significant events that occurred during this decade?

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    Governing Entity


  • George III [1760-1820] King of England
    Canada's Head of State; Ruling Monarch of Britain

    Governor General of British North America:

  • Lieutenant Colonel Sir Guy Carleton, Lord Dorchester [1786-1796]
  • Robert Prescott [1796-1807]
    Personal representative of the Sovereign and acting out the duties of Canada's Head of State on their behalf. Also is Commander-in-Chief of the Canadian Armed Forces. Governor General's are chosen by the Prime Minister and appointed by the sovereign. This role is mostly ceremonial, and lasts 5-7 years.

    Lieutenant Governor of Upper Canada:

  • John Graves Simcoe [1792-1796]
  • Peter Russell [1796-1799]
  • Peter Hunter [1799-1805]
    The lieutenant governor (pronounced lef'ten-ent gov'er-ner) is a representative of the monarch, and appointed by the Prime Minister of Canada for a term of five years. Each province in Canada has their own provincial lieutenant governor.

    What Places Existed

  • Addington County [Est. 1792]
  • Dundas County [Est. 1792]
  • Durham County [Est. 1792]
  • Eastern District [Est. 1788]
  • Essex County [Est. 1792]
  • Frontenac County [Est. 1792]
  • Glengarry County [Est. 1792]
  • Grenville County [Est. 1792]
  • Hastings County [Est. 1792]
  • Hesse District [Est. 1788]
  • Home District [Est. 1788]
  • Johnstown District [Est. 1798]
  • Kent County [Est. 1792]
  • Leeds County [Est. 1792]
  • Lennox County [Est. 1792]
  • Lincoln County [Est. 1792]
  • Lunenburg District [Est. 1788]
  • Mecklenburgh District [Est. 1788]
  • Midland District [Est. 1788]
  • Nassau District [Est. 1792]
  • Norfolk County [Est. 1792]
  • Northumberland County [Est. 1792]
  • Ontario County (#1) [Est. 1792]
  • Prince Edward County [Est. 1792]
  • Rupert's Land [Est. 1670]
  • Stormont County [Est. 1792]
  • Suffolk County [Est. 1792]
  • Upper Canada [Est. 1791]
  • Western District [Est. 1788]
  • York County [Est. 1788]

    What's Available

    Below are the resources that are generally available for most time periods. Under each title is a blurb telling you if the resource is available for this time period. For more general information on each resource, how to use it, where to find it, click on the title.

    Birth Records
    Birth registration was not required. In order to find a record of birth during this time period you will have to utilize other resources such as Church Records, Cemetery Records, Court Records, and even Miscellany Records.

    Books are an often overlooked resource especially now that the internet appears to have all the information you need at your fingertips. Local histories, period histories, and even transcripts are available, not just locally, but worldwide. Is your ancestor hiding in a book?

    Cemetery Records
    Finding a cemetery record for this time period could be hit or miss. Most people were either buried on family land, or in their church cemetery (what was their religion?).

    Census Records
    For more settled areas during this time a census was taken every year but few, if any, of these records have survived. Census Records that are known to have survived are listed on OntarioGenWeb's Census Project.

    Church Records
    During the early years of Upper Canada there were religious restrictions. When England claimed Canada as their colony they hoped to create an Anglican nation. However as more and more immigrants arrived it was clear they wanted Freedom of Religion, and bit by bit they won that right. But for genealogists seeking their ancestors this can be a tricky search if your ancestor was not part of a religion that was legally permitted to practice certain rites in Ontario.

    Until 1793 only the Anglican church could perform certain church rites. In 1793 permission was granted to the Catholic Church. In 1798 the Church of Scotland, Presbyterian, Calvinist, and Lutheran Churchs were granted permission.

    Citizenship/Naturalization Records
    If your ancestor was a British subject (born in Canada, England, or one of England's colonies) you will not find a Citizenship or Naturalization Record because they were already considered a citizen. If your ancestor was born elsewhere they were eligible to apply for Citizenship or Naturalization after living in Canada for three years and declaring loyalty to the British Crown.

    Court Records

  • Surrogate Court
  • Wills & Estate Files

    Death Records
    Death registration was not required. In order to find a record of death during this time period you will have to utilize other resources such as Church Records, Cemetery Records, Court Records, and even Miscellany Records.

    Funeral Records
    Not available for this time period

    Emigration Records
    Not available for this time period

    Immigration Records

  • Ship Lists: If your ancestor was a British subject, or arrived by ship prior to 1865 it's possible but unlikely you'll find them on a ship passenger list.

    Land Records

  • Upper Canada Land Petitions
  • Land Patents
  • Township Papers

    Marriage Records
    Starting in 1793 there are District Marriage Registers. Prior to 1793, or if your ancestor is not in the District Marriage Registers, you will have to use other resources.

    Military Records
    Some records are available

    Misc Records

  • Newspapers
  • Biographies
  • Fraternal Organizations
  • Employment Records
  • Hudson's Bay Company Records
  • North West Company Records

    Do you know of another resource that could be used to research this time period?
    Your name:

    Email address:

    What is the resource?

    How can this resource be used to research this time period?

    Please Note: Queries sent through this form will be deleted & ignored! This form is for providing information, not requesting help. Use our Help page


    Related Material

  • Questions & Answers
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