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Ontario GenWeb Project: 1850-1859
Research By Year
  • Overview
  • Timeline
  • Governing Entity

  • Places
  • What's Available
  • Related Material

  • Presented here is the information we currently have to offer on this decade. A writer is needed to finish this page!!


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

    Writers Needed!

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  • Knowledge of (or the willingness to research) genealogical or historically significant events that occurred during this decade

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  • Timeline

    1850-1851 Influenza Epidemic
    1850The Municipal Act: Towns and Townships now have local governments
    1851(23 Apr 1851) The first Canadian postage stamp, a three-penny Beaver, is issued
    1851First Province-wide Census, it takes two years to enumerate
    1851Population of Canada West: 952,004
    1852The Toronto Stock Exchange is founded
    1854For the first time the Victoria Cross is awarded to a Canadian - Lieutenant Alexander Roberts Dunn (1833-1868) of York
    1855(25 Dec 1855) The first recorded hockey game is played in Kingston
    1855Militia Act: The forerunner to the Canadian Army is established through paid active militia
    1856(26 Oct 1856) The railroad between Toronto and Montreal is opened
    1857(31 Dec 1857) Ottawa becomes the capital of Canada
    1857-1859 Influenza Epidemic
    1857Train Wreck at Des Jardines Canal kills 66
    1858Marriage Act: All religions are now permitted to perform marriages
    1858Probate Court is abolished
    1859Construction of the Parliament Buildings in Ottawa commences

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

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    Date of Event:


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    Governing Entity


  • Victoria [1837-1901] Queen of England
    Canada's Head of State; Ruling Monarch of Britain

    Governor General of Canada:

  • James Bruce, Earl of Elgin and Kincardine [1847-1854]
  • Sir Edmund Walker Head [1854-1861]
    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 Canada West:

  • Sir James Bruce (Earl of Elgin and Kincardine) [1847-1854]
  • Sir Edmund Walker Head [1854-1861]
    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

  • Algoma District [Est. 1858]
  • Brant County [Est. 1853]
  • Bruce County [Est. 1849]
  • Canada West [Est. 1841]
  • Carleton County [Est. 1800]
  • Dundas County [Est. 1792]
  • Durham County [Est. 1792]
  • Elgin County [Est. 1851]
  • Essex County [Est. 1792]
  • Frontenac County [Est. 1792]
  • Glengarry County [Est. 1792]
  • Grenville County [Est. 1792]
  • Grey County [Est. 1851]
  • Haldimand County [Est. 1800]
  • Halton County [Est. 1816]
  • Hastings County [Est. 1792]
  • Huron County [Est. 1835]
  • Kent County [Est. 1792]
  • Lambton County [Est. 1837]
  • Lanark County [Est. 1824]
  • Leeds County [Est. 1792]
  • Lennox & Addington County [Est. 1800]
  • Lincoln County [Est. 1792]
  • Middlesex County [Est. 1800]
  • Nipissing District [Est. 1858]
  • Norfolk County [Est. 1792]
  • Northumberland County [Est. 1792]
  • Ontario County [Est. 1851]
  • Oxford County [Est. 1800]
  • Peel County [Est. 1851]
  • Perth County [Est. 1849]
  • Peterborough County [Est. 1838]
  • Prescott County [Est. 1800]
  • Prince Edward County [Est. 1792]
  • Renfrew County [Est. 1845]
  • Rupert's Land [Est. 1670]
  • Russell County [Est. 1800]
  • Simcoe County [Est. 1821]
  • Stormont County [Est. 1792]
  • Upper Canada [Est. 1791]
  • Victoria County [Est. 1821]
  • Waterloo County [Est. 1840]
  • Welland County [Est. 1845]
  • Wellington County [Est. 1851]
  • Wentworth County [Est. 1816]
  • 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
    Starting in 1851 a census was taken every ten years. The 1851 census actually took two years to complete and is often referred to as the 1851/52 census. The 1851 census is available on microfilm.

    Church Records
    During the early years of Canada West 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 1858 the only churchs permitted to perform certain church rites were: Anglican, Baptist, Calvinist, Catholic, Church of Scotland, Congregationalist, Dunkers, Independent, Lutheran, Mennonite, Methodist, Moravian and Presbyterian churchs. After 1858 all religions could perform their duties.

    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

  • Coroner Records
  • Correctional Records
  • Guardianship 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
    As Funeral Homes were rarely used prior to the late 1800's it's quite likely you will not find a Funeral Record for this time period.

    Emigration Records
    Not available for this time period

    Immigration Records

  • Quarantine 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.
  • Train Records

    Land Records

  • Land Patents
  • Township Papers

    Marriage Records
    For marriages that occurred 1850-1858 there are the District Marriage Registers. For marriages 1858-1859 there are County Marriage Registers.

    Military Records
    Some records are available

    Misc Records

  • Directories
  • Newspapers
  • Biographies
  • Fraternal Organizations
  • Employment Records
  • Education Records
  • Alumni 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


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