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Upper Canada Land Board (1765-1804)

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Library and Archives Canada holds the records of the Upper Canada Land Boards (RG 1 L4) for the Districts of Hesse, Luneburg, Mecklenburg and Nassau. Those districts were once part of Quebec, but situated in what became Upper Canada in 1791.

The Treaty of Paris was ratified on April 17, 1783, and it officially recognized American independence. Those Americans who had remained loyal to the British Crown were persecuted and forced out of their homes. The British government came to the relief of these Loyalists, arranging for transportation for those who wished to leave. Many chose to settle in Nova Scotia, which then included New Brunswick, and in Quebec, which then included present-day Ontario. Many settlers were given assistance in the form of free land, rations, farm stock and farm implements. Lands were also granted to the sons and daughters of Loyalists.

In addition to Loyalists, after 1789 many Americans emigrated to British North America under the offer of free lands made by Governor Simcoe.

The Land Boards were created in 1789 to oversee land matters, to facilitate settlement in the four districts and to grant certificates of location to the settlers. The Land Boards were abolished in 1794 when the land granting process was centralized through the Executive Council.

The Archives of Ontario provides a map of the districts to show where they are located. []

About the records

The records include:

  • minutes
  • reports
  • correspondence
  • instructions or regulations for the operation of the Land Boards
  • schedules of locations and of lands granted
  • oaths of allegiance

Most of the documents are dated between 1789 and 1794; however, there are some earlier documents relating to French Canadians who had been living in the area before the arrival of the Loyalists. There are also some documents dated as late as 1804.

For more information about the records, consult the archival description: MIKAN 205141.

Some reports, copies of minutes and other records submitted by the Land Boards to the Executive Council are to be found in other series such as the Land Minute Books (RG 1 L1) and the Land Petitions (RG 1 L3).


This research tool provides access to more than 16,400 references in the Upper Canada Land Board records held at Library and Archives Canada (RG 1 L4). A nominal card index was completed in 1982. Staff members created a database from this nominal card index.

Every name found in the records has been indexed. For those names that appear frequently, such as a member of the Land Board, only the volume number is given, not specific pages. Some entries were also made under subjects, such as:

  • Hesse, District of
  • Indian Lands
  • Land Board
  • Land granting

Search Screen

The search screen allows you to search by the name of an individual. You can enter a surname and/or given name(s). You can limit your search by selecting a district. For subject searches, enter the search term in the surname search box, e.g. Indian Lands.

Note that some entries include only an initial for the given names. Sometimes there is no given name on the document. Try searching by surname only. Names can also be written different ways. The entries reflect the spelling of names as they appear on the documents. You can try spelling variations of names or use the * wildcard character.

When you have entered your search terms, click on "Submit." The number of hits found will be shown at the top of the results screen.

How to Interpret the Results

Your search will produce a results list, from which you can obtain more detailed descriptions.

The results list contains the following fields:

  • Name (surname and given name)
  • District
  • Year

You can export the results to a portable storage device or to your own computer.

Click on the underlined name of the individual for a more detailed description. The detailed description contains the following fields:

  • Name (surname and given name)
  • District
  • Year
  • Description
  • Volume
  • Page(s)
  • Reference
  • Microfilm

Note: If no page number is indicated, it means that there are multiple references to the individual in that volume because he was a member of the board.

How to Obtain Copies

Use the following link for options such as borrowing microfilm or ordering copies:
How to Access Library and Archives Canada Records

Other Resources

Other archival land records exist for this time period. Consult Land and Loyalists for more information about these records.

Other Land Board records for each district are held by the Archives of Ontario. []