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Land


Provincial Land Records

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Many references to land records can be found in provincial archives and government offices. For each province, we present the main series of documents and online databases currently available.

Alberta

Research at Library and Archives Canada

Library and Archives Canada holds the Letters Patent issued by the Lands Patent Branch of the Department of the Interior. The records refer to grants issued in Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta and the railway belt of British Columbia, 1870-1930. Those records can be searched in the following database.

The land system in the western provinces was arranged by sections, townships and ranges. Detailed information is provided on the online help of the above database.

Research in Provincial Sources

Homestead records are deposited with the Provincial Archives of Alberta.

The Alberta Genealogical Society has created a name index to a collection of land files held on microfilm and the Provincial Archives of Alberta. Many of these files relate to homestead lands granted in Alberta between 1870 and 1930.

Subsequent transactions are in the custody of the Land Registration Districts [www.servicealberta.gov.ab.ca/index.cfm?fuseaction=section:landtitles/] in Edmonton or Calgary.

Sales of agricultural land by the Canadian Pacific Railway to settlers in Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta, 1881-1906, can be searched in the Glenbow Archives CPR Database [www.glenbow.org/lasearch/cpr.htm].

British Columbia

Research at Library and Archives Canada

Library and Archives Canada holds the Letters Patent issued by the Lands Patent Branch of the Department of the Interior. The records refer to grants issued in Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta and the railway belt of British Columbia, 1870-1930. Those records can be searched in the following database.

The land system in the western provinces was arranged by sections, townships and ranges. Detailed information is provided on the online help of the above database.

Research in Provincial Sources

The British Columbia Archives holds applications for:

The Land Title and Services Authority [www.ltsa.ca/land-title] holds the Crown grants and some related records.

Manitoba

Research at Library and Archives Canada

Library and Archives Canada holds the Letters Patent issued by the Lands Patent Branch of the Department of the Interior. The records refer to grants issued in Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta and the railway belt of British Columbia, 1870-1930. Those records can be searched in the following database.

The land system in the western provinces was arranged by sections, townships and ranges. Detailed information is provided on the online help of the above database.

Research in Provincial Sources

Homestead registers, files, plans and fiats are in the custody of the Archives of Manitoba. A computer-generated list of all homesteaders, by name and land description, is available on microfiche.

Subsequent transfers of title are recorded in the district Land Titles offices [www.gov.mb.ca/tpr/contacts.html].

Sales of agricultural land by the Canadian Pacific Railway to settlers in Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta, 1881-1906, can be searched in the Glenbow Archives CPR Database [www.glenbow.org/lasearch/cpr.htm].

New Brunswick

Research in Provincial Sources

Indexes to land petitions, 1785-1918, and to land grants, 1784-1997, are available on the Web site of the Provincial Archives of New Brunswick.

The current series of land petitions covers the period 1832-1966. A card index for the years 1832-1866 is available at the Provincial Archives. A microfilm index for the years 1867-1966 is available through inter-institutional loan.

Check under County Guides [http://archives.gnb.ca/Archives/CountyGuides.aspx?culture=en-CA] for information on land records in the individual counties.

Records of subsequent transactions are in the custody of the county Registry and Mapping offices [www.snb.ca/e/2000/2000e.asp].

Newfoundland and Labrador

Research in Provincial Sources

The Registry of Crown Titles and Records [www.env.gov.nl.ca/env/lands/titles.html] holds land documents together with background information, applications and legal surveys dating back to the 1830s.

The Registry of Deeds [www.env.gov.nl.ca/env/lands/titles.html] has records relating to real estate in the province of Newfoundland and Labrador dating back to the early 1800s.

Northwest Territories

Research in Territorial Sources

Municipal and Community Affairs' (MACA) Lands Administration Division [www.maca.gov.nt.ca/lands/index.html] is responsible for the administration of all Commissioner's lands of the Northwest Territories.

Nova Scotia

Research in Provincial Sources

Land grants are in the custody of the:

Crown Land Information Management Centre
[www.gov.ns.ca/natr/land/surveysclrc.htm]
Registrar of Crown Lands
Department of Natural Resources
PO Box 698
Halifax, NS
B3J 2T9

The Nova Scotia Archives and Records Management holds microfilm copies of land grants and petitions, all of which are indexed. A database [www.gov.ns.ca/nsarm/genealogy/] covering the years 1769 to 1843 is available online.

Search BosaNova [www.gov.ns.ca/nsarm/bosanova.asp] for details about land records for other counties.

Records of subsequent transactions are held by the Land Registration Office [www.gov.ns.ca/snsmr/contact/service_locations.asp?service=Deeds] in each county.

Nunavut

Research in Territorial Sources

Nunavut became an official territory of Canada on April 1, 1999. Before that, it was part of the Northwest Territories.

The Legal Registries [www.justice.gov.nu.ca/english/legalreg.html] Division is responsible for the operation of the land titles Office.

Ontario

Although there were a few French settlements in the Detroit-Windsor area in particular, there was not intensive white settlement in Ontario until the arrival of the Loyalists. Ontario was originally part of the province of Quebec. When it became a separate province in 1791, it was known as Upper Canada, then Canada West from 1841 and at Confederation (1867) it took the name of Ontario. The province is divided into counties, or districts in less populated areas, which are divided into townships.

Research at Library and Archives Canada

Upper Canada Land Petitions (RG 1 L3)

The index of the Upper Canada Land Petitions is available online.

That database also includes references to land petitions that were submitted to the Civil Secretary of Upper Canada. Those petitions are part of the series Upper Canada Sundries, 1791-1841 (RG 5 A1).

Upper Canada Land Board, 1765-1804 (RG 1 L4)
Land Boards were established in 1789 to facilitate settlement in the districts then known as Hesse, Nassau, Lunenburg and Mecklenburg by granting certificates of location to the early settlers.

The records include:

  • minutes;
  • reports;
  • correspondence; and
  • instructions or regulations for the operation of the Land Boards.

The index of the Upper Canada Land Board is available online. It includes names of settlers and references to the original records such as volume, page and microfilm reel numbers.

Upper Canada Land Board database

Heir and Devisee Commission - Upper Canada, 1797-1804 (RG 1 L5)

The Heir and Devisee Commission was established in 1797 to clarify the titles to lands.

Records can include:

  • affidavits;
  • bonds;
  • location certificates;
  • powers of attorney;
  • orders-in-council;
  • copies of wills;
  • mortgages;
  • deeds of sale; and
  • testimonial letters.

Library and Archives Canada holds most of the records of the first Heir and Devisee Commission (1797-1804) and some of the records of the second Commission (1805-1911). These records have been microfilmed, but there is no index by name. The records are arranged by district, then by type of document.

Research in Provincial Sources

The Archives of Ontario holds numerous collections relating to land records such as land grants (patents), orders-in-council, township papers and petitions. Microfiche copies of the Ontario Land Records Index are available at most public libraries in Ontario.

Records of land transactions subsequent to the original grant or purchase are in the custody of the county/district Land Registry Offices [www.ontario.ca/en/information_bundle/land_registration/content/STEL02_165696].

Heir and Devisee Commission, 1805-1911
The Archives of Ontario holds records for the second Heir and Devisee Commission (1805-1911) [www.archives.gov.on.ca/english/interloan/l-heirs.htm] and a small number of records of the first Commission (1797-1804). A Database [http://server1.minisisinc.com/minisa.dll/144/ ARCH_HEIRSF?DIRECTSEARCH] to some of these records is available.

Canada Company
The Canada Company (1825-1953) [www.archives.gov.on.ca/english/interloan/canco.htm] was granted large tracts of lands in southwestern Ontario during the 1800s and leased or sold it for settlement.

An index to the remittance books has been published.

  • Genealogical extraction and index of the Canada Company remittance books, 1843-1847, by Ruth Holt and Margaret Williams, 1990.

Prince Edward Island

Research in Provincial Sources

The Public Archives and Records Office has a large collection of land-related documents prior to 1900.

After that date, records are housed at the:

Registry of Deeds Office
[www.gov.pe.ca/eef/index.php3?number=1007540&lang=E]
PO Box 2000
Charlottetown, PE
C1A 7N8

Quebec

In the province of Quebec, land distribution was originally based on the seigneurial system, established in 1627 and used until 1854.

Seigneuries were granted by the King to members of the "bourgeoisie," members of important families or former military officers. As proprietor of a seigneurie, the "seigneur" had privileges and obligations towards the King or his representative. The "seigneur" granted parcels of land (concessions) on his seigneury to tenants called "censitaires."

The granting of land by the "seigneur" produced a notarial act. This contract gives:

  • the names of the parties;
  • the dimension and locality of the land; and
  • the various obligations of the "censitaire."

Consult our section on Notarial Records to find out how to locate such a contract.

Consult our Bibliography for further information on this topic.

A Map [http://services.banq.qc.ca/sdx/cep/query_notice.xsp?f=date_publication&v=1709-01-01T00%3A00%3A00Z&sortfield=titre_trie&order=ascendant&col=america] drawn up in 1709 by Gédéon de Catalogne gives the location of the seigneuries and the names of the "censitaires."

Starting in 1763, new lands were granted according to the township system. Quebec was divided into counties that were divided into townships or "municipalités de paroisses."

Research at Library and Archives Canada

Lower Canada Land Petitions (RG 1 L3L)

The index and digitized images of the Lower Canada Land Petitions are available in a searchable database online.

Research in Provincial Sources

A list of Crown grants, 1763-1890, arranged by townships within counties, and indexed by grantees, was published in 1891.

  • Liste des terrains concédés par la Couronne dans la province de Québec, de 1763 au 31 décembre 1890.

Microfilm copies of the records listed in this book are available at the Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec. Requests for copies should be addressed to:

Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec
1012, avenue du Séminaire
CP 10450
Sainte-Foy, QC
G1V 4N1

In 1841, the government created registration offices, which today are called the Bureau de la publicité des droits [www.mrn.gouv.qc.ca/foncier/registre/index.jsp]. Records of land transactions subsequent to the original grant or purchase are in the custody of the Bureau de la publicité des droits for each county or district.

Conversion Table for French Measurement Units

Saskatchewan

Research at Library and Archives Canada

Library and Archives Canada holds the Letters Patent issued by the Lands Patent Branch of the Department of the Interior. The records refer to grants issued in Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta and the railway belt of British Columbia, 1870-1930. Those records can be searched in the following database.

The land system in the western provinces was arranged by sections, townships and ranges. Detailed information is provided on the online help of the above database.

Research in Provincial Sources

The Saskatchewan Archives Board holds homestead records. A database [www.saskhomesteads.com/] is available online.

Copies of the patents for grants, and records of subsequent transactions, are located in the eight district Land Titles offices.

Sales of agricultural land by the Canadian Pacific Railway to settlers in Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta, 1881-1906, can be searched in the Glenbow Archives CPR Database [www.glenbow.org/lasearch/cpr.htm].

Yukon

Research in Territorial Sources

All original land titles and documents for properties are registered and stored at the Yukon Land Titles Office [www.justice.gov.yk.ca/prog/ls/lto/].

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