Thursday, December 3, 1998

Sunday, November 22, 1998

1861 York Co. census, found our Hanrahan ancestor in Whitchurch twp. The previous census is missing. What documents can I use instead to search back for this ancestor?

Wills, church records, assessments, tax records, directories. There are a lot of records beside the census available! See our research pages as well as York CountyGenWeb for research tips.

Tuesday, November 10, 1998

How can I obtain vital records without exact dates and living in California?

Ontario Vital Statistics are available worldwide on microfilm at any Latter-Day Saints Family History Centre. You can order in the film needed after viewing the index.

Updated 2010:
Indexes for some years are available for free viewing at the FamilySearch website, images of the registrations can be accessed through a subscription to Ancestry.

Tuesday, November 3, 1998

At what point exactly did Ontario County disappear into Durham?

It became part of the Regional Municipality of Durham in 1971. See the Ontario CountyGenWeb site for more info on Ontario County

Sunday, November 1, 1998

What were the requirements for citizenship in 1910-1920? Specifically, how soon after immigrating could someone begin the process, and how long would it take?

Canadian Citizenship wasn't established until 1947. Prior to that time, any British subject (those born in the UK, Canada, Australia, etc) was able to travel freely between British colonies without documentation. Those immigrating from other countries were naturalized, something they could apply for after living in Canada for a minimum of three years. For more information about this please see links

Sunday, October 25, 1998

How can I determine the Census District, and Sub-district of a particular street address in Toronto in the 1901 Census?

The streets for 1901 census especially in Toronto are challenging, but not this end, I have printed from Weldon Library (University of Western Ontario), the maps in the "Electoral Atlas of Canada" for major cities, which show exactly the districts of Toronto, for example and their boundaries.
  The difficulties are two-fold: 1a). Many streets no longer exist, so the use of the City Directory in the Regional Room (2nd floor) first will give a cross street for the number you need. (For example, 369 Richmond is between the streets of King and Dundas, on the west side) This info can then be looked up on a current map, and if it exists, just move to the same region on the Electoral map and look for the intersection, etc.
  If the street you have is newer than the 1901 Atlas maps, then you need to be a bit creative - again, go back to the directory and use the alpha by name part to get the then current address and try to locate it with its nearest cross street on the Atlas map.(in other words, find where they lived then by looking up their name) 1b). If you have no address, use the directory first, obviously.
  The greatest challenge is in the Toronto East versus York East and it has been my experience that MUCH is in York east....or perhaps that's just where most of mine have been. 2a). It is important to do one thing, esp. for large cities - print the matching map from the Atlas and put a pin on the map where you section of film begins. Go a few turns and put another pin onto the map and you will begin to see a pattern emerging.
  It is supposedly a clockwise block and then the next block, also clockwise, and each should begin in the north west corner of the block and proceed east, south, west and north back to the starting corner. The census taker should then walk east along the block face to the next new block and continue in the same way - east, south, west, north etc. until he has done every block If you are following the progression, you can see the pattern, usually.
  Remember to read only the addresses and if your "address" isn't in the list, skip the names that go with those addresses. (It is set up always a couple pages of addresses followed by several pages of the names that reside there and repeating.) 2b) Match the street to the ward and select the film that lists that ward (in the directory of census films) I sometimes use the 1871 and 1881 references to find the lesser units, but I always use the 1901 ref for the bigger cities. I hope this helps.
  I will gladly teach anyone who comes to the Family History Centre (London, Ontario) during my Tues. morning shifts how to do this and the maps I have printed off for major centres are all there. We have only the 1923 directory, so if their street isn't listed in it, we may be stuck. (From Forebears Research & Associates )

Friday, October 16, 1998

The 1871 census lists an area called Cardwell, what is the present day name of this area?

Cardwell was an electoral and enumeration district that existed briefly in the late 1800's. The townships that formed this area are now part of Dufferin County, Simcoe County, and Peel County. See Cardwell District for more information.

Tuesday, October 13, 1998

How can I find out if a business still exists, or a person still lives in a certain house?

Visit the GenWeb site that covers that area and see if there are addresses that may assist you, or even a researcher in that area willing to help. If you'd like to hire a researcher, see OntarioGenWeb's list of researchers . If you'd like to trade, see OntarioGenWeb's Trading Post . On the internet you can try a search on Sympatico . Over the phone you could call Information at 1-(area code)-555-1212. Be aware that long distances charges and a small fee do apply (usually under $2 depending on your telephone service)

Monday, October 5, 1998

Would like to get news articals form the kingston whig stander newspaper for the year 1985

Visit the Frontenac CountyGenWeb as Kingston is located within this county. There you may find a list of newspapers and from that a contact address. If not, try a search on Sympatico or Yahoo . Or you could call Information at 1-613-555-1212. Be aware that long distances charges and a small fee do apply (usually under $2 depending on your telephone service)

The 1871 census says BRA (brant county?) Dumfires South twp. I found a Dumfries in waterloo county but is there one in brant county also? Does BRA stand for Brant?

In Ontario several townships have the same name. In this case one is 'Dumfries South' (Brant County) and one is 'Dumfries North' (Waterloo County). BRA does stand for Brant

Wednesday, September 16, 1998

I know that my great grandmother was from a chippewa tribe in Ontario. How would I go about finding which one?

[From Cathy] You should apply to the Indian and Northern Affairs Canada government department. They have a registry of all native Canadians which they are now updating. For more information about this service, please contact the IRS CIS project Sponsor at (819) 994-0951 or the IRS CIS Project Communication Leader at (819) 953-7846 or via e-mail at You can also go to this web page for more information:

I am trying to find the name of an Indian Reservation in Algoma District/County, on all the maps I have found it only listed as IR#8? My grandfather was born on the reservation and I would like to request his birth record.

[From Ang] -- Don't know if you're still looking into this but I dug around a little online and there seems to be a reservation called Michipicoten First Nation PO Box 1, Site 8 RR 1, Wawa, Ontario P0S 1K0 705-856-1993 or 1-888-303-7723 I couldn't find what reserve # they were but you might be able to contact them. The website address is:

Have used the index to war of 1812 war loss claims.(C-15720) Have found ancestor(s) listed in this card index with a reference number. Don't know what to do next. What resource does this reference number relate to?

[From Suzanne Schaller] -- C-15720 looks like a National Archives microfilm number. Have you tried looking at this film? Or, if the index is from the National ARchives (which I think it is), there should be info on what the reference number means, or else their reference department should be able to tell you. Hope this helps!

My ancestor in applying for land (& trying not to choke over the sugar melting in his mouth, apparetnly) reassures the council that he is not "affiliated with the Ryerson Faction" & other land petitions of family members refer also to "internal commotions"& "the MacKenzie Rebellion". What were these matters?

[From Suzanne Schaller] -- The MacKenzie Rebellion took place in 1837. See: The 1837 Rebellions and Rebellion of 1837 overview for more information. I'm not sure about the Ryerson Faction, but an online search might tell you something.

[From Leanne] -- The 1837 MacKenzie rebellion was instigated by William Lyon MacKenzie; earlier in his career as a reform politician, he'd been allied with Reverend Egerton Ryerson, a Methodist minister and moderate reformer. As MacKenzie's politics became more radical, he and Ryerson parted ways. Nevertheless, neither would have been greatly appreciated by the corrupt, conservative Tory regime in place at the time. So yes, the ancestor in question was definitely "sucking up" in order to be assured of a land grant LOL (nor do I blame him...that was something too important to fool around with).

The family's religion was indicated as Church of England. I don't find this religion as one that has records to search there in Ontario church records. Does it come under another church affiliation?

Yes, Anglican. OntarioGenWeb now has a Focus On: Religion page that lists this and other religious affiliations.

Where is the "Victoria Ward", Ottawa, Ontario, Canada?

The Archives of Canada offers maps of census districts here: You can see where Victoria Ward, and other census wards are located by viewing the maps.

Do you know anything about "Immigrant Trains"? My ggrandfather took his family in the 1880s to Nebraska via the immigrant train.

In Ontario railway records are housed in the Archives of Ontario (RG11, Series N). There are lists of people who received assistance with train fares, and lists of internal railway passes issued to new immigrants. The AO website has extensive information, instructions and guides on how to access their holdings, not just railway records, but every record they have archived. See: The Collections at Archives of Ontario and Customer Service & Research Guides

Friday, September 11, 1998

Where can I get prison records from Mimico Reformatory in the 1950's?

Try the Archives of Ontario in the Preliminary Inventory of the Ministry of Correctional Services (RG20) area. There you can find jail files for inmates 1939-1957... also probation & parole files, adult & juvenile case files, records for industrial schools, jails, detention centres and industrial farms. There is a 30 year restriction on personal information and some files may be closed altogether.

Saturday, August 22, 1998

I have a transcript from an Ontario Cemetery. The initials "VSI" appear in several notations. What does VSI stand for?

VSI likely stands for 'Vital Statistics Information' in order to include information about burials where there are no stones. It's suggested that you check the transcript for a glossary, or contact the organization that compiled the transcript for verification.

Friday, June 26, 1998

My Great Grandfather attended a university in Canada about 1850. Where could I find a list of universities operating during that time?

The Universities operating in Ontario in the 1850's were the University of Toronto (est 1827), Queen's University (est 1841), and College of Bytown (now known as University of Ottawa, est 1848). Universities elsewhere in Canada included Quebec's McGill University and Bishop's University (est 1843), New Brunswick's University of New Brunwick (est 1785) and Mount Allison (est 1839), and Nova Scotia's University of King's College (est 1789) and Dalhousie University (est 1818).

Wednesday, June 17, 1998

Can you please provide an address for the Pennsylvania German Folklore Society of Ontario?

While an internet site could not be found, a check of offline sources (c1992) finds: Pennsylvania German Folklore Society of Ontario, Box 803, Waterloo, ON N2J 4C2. Plus -->Pennsylvania German Folklore Society of Ontario, York Branch, 64 Marshall St, Barrie, ON L4H 3S8 & Pennsylvania German Folklore Society of Ontario, The Twenty Chapter, Vineland, ON L0R 2C0

Sunday, June 14, 1998

My GGGGgrandparents emigrated to Canada from Amsterdam, Holland. They were in Ontario for about 2 years before moving on to the US. Are there any records that can be searched for the 1810-1822 period to find out which port they landed in, and where they originated? We've always been told that they were from Ireland, but they had sailed from Amsterdam

I would try LDS passenger emigration lists to start. Records for that time period are hit and miss. You might have more luck focusing on their life in the USA - did they apply for naturalization? What birth place did their death certificate provide? Where they the subject of any newspaper articles or biographies? Start from their deaths and work backwards. Be sure to focus on any known siblings as well - they may give a clue as to place of birth.

Wednesday, June 3, 1998

Where can I look for death/obituary information province-wide for early 1930's death information?

Newspapers & death registrations. Newspapers are accessible for all years depending upon the newspaper itself. See Newspapers for more information. Death registrations are available worldwide at LDS Family History Centres 72 years after the event. See Death Records for more information.

Tuesday, June 2, 1998

Could you please tell me where to send for information on birth records for 1858?

Global Genealogy covered this topic in their Global Gazette -- Hints & Lists For The Family Historian: The Challenge of Locating Vital Records in Ontario/Upper Canada/Canada West

Is there an e-mail address the United Church Archives?

It might be found on their web site at

Where can I find information and records on prisoners in Ontario penitentiaries between 1837 and 1851?

Inmate records are of an administrative nature and would be kept at the individual prisons. Obtaining this information may involve contacting either one specific prison or the prisons in the area involved. For instance Kingston Pennitentary has been the subject of many historical books on its first one hundred years and I believe that it has its own archives. To my knowledge there is no specific province-wide agency that has such info. {Special Thank you to Laura Carter for her help in answering this question}

I would contact the ministry of the Attorney General for penal system inquiries, even that long ago. They do have an "archive" division, because I have used it
'Archives Division'
720 Bay St
Toronto ON M5G 2K1
General Inquiry: 416-326-2220
TTY: 416-326-4012
Fax: 416-326-4007

How do I find out the name of ships that docked at Whitby Harbour during June, 1840?

The best place to start looking for possible records in this instance is by contacting the harbour master at Whitby and asking if log books were kept at that time and if so where they would be located. A lot of harbours have marine and historical societies where one might have access to archives including log books. Contact information for these types of lake front societies may be available at Great Lakes Shipping Genealogy Downward Bound {Special Thank you to Laura Carter for her help in answering this question}

Try the municipal offices of the town of Whitby, or try the Department of Transportation if they have a "Great Lakes" division. Maybe even Archives Ontario under shipping?

I have a family in the 1861 census, but would like to go back a previous census. It seems to be missing. Can't find either the 1851 or the 1842 census for that area

It's possible those census returns did not survive. If you've checked the book "Catalogue of Census Returns on Microfilm, 1666-1891" published by the National Archives of Canada and it does not include a census for the area you're seeking, you're likely out of luck. The National Archives is the caretaker of most Canadian census records. There are a few census records out there that are not at the National Archives but in order to find these you will have to do some research. Write to the genealogy and history societies in the area to learn if there was in fact a census that survived or if there are alternative resources available.

1851 London Township-St Patricks Rural Ward & 1878 London "East" just east of the city limits - are these 2 areas the same and known as Nilestown today?

No. St. Patrick's rural ward extended from Highway 4 (Richmond Street) on the west to the West Nissouri Township boundary on the east and Telfer Road (now Nine Mile Road) in the north to the North branch of the Thames River in the south. London East was the area east of Adelaide Street, and Nilestown is located in North Dorchester Township -- a bit of a distance away

Which area was considered as Western Canada during the 1830's and 1840's?

Ontario :-) From 1841-1867 Ontario was known as Canada West and the Province of Canada's western edge was the current Ontario-Michigan boundary line. From 1791-1841 Canada West was known as Upper Canada. Before 1791 it was part of Quebec

I have noticed many people who call themselves "professional genealogists". Some even appear to have a designation after their names. How does a person become a genealogist or researcher?

Becoming a genealogist or researcher is as simple as pursuing your interest in the family tree, however becoming a 'professional' takes quite a bit more time and money. Below are some instutions that offer accreditation in genealogy:
* National Institute For Genealogical Studies (Based in Toronto, Ontario)
* Board for Certification of Genealogists (Based in Washington, DC)
* Genealogical Institute of the Maritimes (Based in Halifax, NS -- focuses solely on the Canadian provinces of NS, NB, NF & PEI)

If interested in just pursuing instruction on genealogy research techniques:
* Brigham Young University
* National Genealogical Society

Could you please explain the breakdown of counties to townships, etc? What does "Concession" mean on the census list I retrieved?

A township is a geographic and/or municipal division of a county. Within each township boundary there will be numbered line roads which run in a common direction and numbered concession roads which run (usually) at right angles to the line roads. The exact location of an individual property -- a farm, for example -- can be determined by its Lot Number and the Number of the Line Road or Concession Road running across the front of the property -- usually a Concession Road. Many farm properties were further divided into halves or quarters -- i.e. "the north half, Lot 34, Concession 3". In the Prairie Provinces of Canada a township is an area of about 93 square kilometres and is divided into 36 sections. This does not apply elsewhere in Canada, Ontario, for example. It should also be noted that line and concession markings do not always indicate the existence of roads but, whatever roads were built, usually followed those surveys

In addition, Townships are used in genealogical research to narrow down the area in which to search. As most governmental records are first divided by county, then by township (such as census records) this would mean your first step in research would be to check township instead of the entire county. Using this method of township, then county, research cuts down on time spent needlessly looking in the 'wrong' area. Concessions are used to give an exact location of settlement. They are especially useful if your ancestor settled in a rural area (which means most of Ontario in the 1800's). Pictoral examples of Townships & Concessions

Sunday, May 24, 1998

I am trying to find a family on the 1851 and 1861 censuses. The parents were married in 1849 in St. Paul's RC Church in Toronto but I don't know the ward or township of that church and it might lead me to the township of the family. How can I find St. Paul's location?

[From Pat Jeffs] St Paul's RC Church was in St David's Ward. The 1851 census for Toronto was lost, so the only possibility is 1861

[From Susan] There is a website called that has a transcription of the tax rolls for Toronto for 1853. It was created because of the lack of an 1851 census. All heads of households are listed, whether home owners or tenants. To to the site and look on the left for "tax rolls". There's a search engine.

Sunday, May 17, 1998

How can I find out about boundary and jurisdiction changes for East Hawksbury Twp (now Prescott Co) c1851?

The best source of information about Ontario Counties and Tps is Alan Rayburn's book entitled Place Names in Ontario, published by the U of Toronto Press in 1997 -- available at most bookstores for about $ 22.00. Hawkesbury Tp in Prescott Co was created in 1798. It was divided into East and West in 1884. There is also a community called Hawkesbury. It had a Post Office beginning in 1819 and became the Town of Hawkesbury in 1896. In the early days it was the site of a very large lumbering operation run by George and William Hamilton

Friday, May 1, 1998

Is there a directory of Anglican clergymen in Ontario during the last century?

It is easy enough for anyone interested in things Anglican to contact the Anglican authorities by e-mail. The oldest diocese is the Diocese of Ontario located in Kingston. Their office is located at 90 Johnson St. To the immediate west there is the Diocese of Toronto and to the north, the Diocese of Ottawa. I would think that if you used a search engine (keyword "Anglican") you could find out all the ways to contact them. They are very visible on-line. They will have the information requested.