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Description found in Archives

Land submissions to the Executive Council [textual record]. 

Series consists of

Date(s)

1783-1865, predominant 1783-1841

Place of creation

Ontario

ca. 46.0335 m of textual records.

Scope and content

Series consists of the petitions and related records submitted to the Executive Council, sitting as a land committee in the performance of its land disposal functions. The "land committee" dealt with all manner of petitions for grants and leases, requests for title deeds and reports from the Surveyor General or, after 1827, the Commissioner of Crown Lands. Even after the introduction of the system of land sales, committee work continued. The recommendations of the committee were entered in the land minute books of the Executive Council (see the Land Minute Books of the Executive Council series, elsewhere within this fonds) while the petitions and other documents submitted to the committee for its consideration were filed separately. It is the latter records, commonly called the Upper Canada Land Petitions, which make up the present series. Petitions and other documents submitted by applicants for land grants or leases were forwarded by the governor's Civil Secretary to the Executive Council and were filed there in one series with all other submissions to the land committee. A variety of certificates and other documentation submitted in support of individual requests, as well as reports by the Surveyor General or the Attorney General on technical and legal matters, and some lists of settlers by region, will be found filed with the petitions. The great majority of the records in this series date from the years 1783-1841, although in a small number of cases records which post-date Union will be found here.

Textual records
Microfilm reel C-1726
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Textual records: microform
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90: Open
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90: Open
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Textual records: microform
90: Open
Microfilm reel
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90: Open
Archival reference no.
Former archival reference no.

Terms of use

In order to protect the fragile originals, most records in this series have been microfilmed and the originals withdrawn from circulation. The microfilm must be used for consultation and copying rather than the originals.

Textual records The CAB RG 1 Shelf List (see RG 1, L3 section) is a typed volume-level description which provides bundle alpha-numeric reference, petition number range, inclusive dates and corresponding microfilm reel numbers. It provides an overview of the series. It shows changes in the filing of the I-J and U-V bundles, separation of Mc and M bundles, and the special grouping of records relating to the Canada Company, the Perth Military Settlement, or the "Division Line" (boundary) with Lower Canada. CAB RG 1 Shelf List 90 (Paper)

Textual records See also the CAB RG 1 Shelf List (L6B section) for a description of a single volume (vol. 15) which, although heretofore linked to a different series, was determined in the most recent intellectual re-arrangement exercise to belong more correctly with the present series. CAB RG 1 Shelf List 90 (Paper)

Textual records Finding Aid MSS1802, commonly called the "Upper Canada Land Index", is an alphabetical nominal card index serving both the land petitions and the land books of Upper Canada (records found in this fonds), as well as both the land petitions and land books of the Province of Canada (records found in the Records of the Executive Council Office of the Province of Canada fonds). As such, the common designation "Upper Canada Land Index" is something of a misnomer since the index includes references not only to lands situated in Upper Canada but also to lands situated in the entire Province of Canada after 1841, including lands in Canada East. MSS1802 90 (Paper)

Textual records The Upper Canada Land Index is estimated to be 90% accurate and complete. As described in Patricia Kennedy's Introduction to the Index to the Upper Canada Land Books - Volume 3 (January 1806 to December 1816), the index cards were derived from list compilations, not directly from the petitions, with the result that errors or omissions in the lists were repeated on the index cards. Moreover, the spelling of names on petitions varies widely and handwriting is sometimes scarcely legible. Searching for the petitions submitted by persons whose names might be spelled variously or misread can benefit from careful correlation of land minute book and land petition references. In the event that only a land minute book entry is found in the index (as when the corresponding petition was indexed under an alternate spelling), the petition can be identified and traced from the alpha-numeric reference in the margin of the land minute book. Thus, for example, in land minute book E (i.e., vol. 23, covering 1802-1804), the reference M 80 corresponds to bundle M 6 petition 80. According to the Shelf List, petition M 6/80 will be found in vol. 332, on microfilm reel C-2194. MSS1802 90 (Paper)

Textual records Index entries are almost exclusively personal names. Petitions on behalf of groups were indexed, but not necessarily under modern headings. A few entries were made by names of Indian tribes, by place names (as for the Military Settlements, or statistical reports on lands granted in a specific township) and by office titles (as for the Surveyor General). The cards provide only the bundle and petition number; researchers must consult the Shelf List to identify the number of the microfilm reel on which that petition will appear. MSS1802 90 (Paper)

Textual records Conversely, when the index identifies a petition under one surname spelling, the corresponding land minute book entry can be traced by noting the date of reading in Council, which is given in the endorsement on the back or last page of the petition, and consulting the CAB RG 1 Shelf List (section L1) for the Land Minute Books of the Executive Council series to identify the appropriate land minute book. Note that faulty instructions to the typist resulted in index cards bearing the label "Land Index 18.. - 18.." in place of the term Land Book and the correct letter designation for the 1840s through 1860s. The identification of the microfilm for these Land Books is nonetheless easy to accomplish by using the date of the land minute books as the key when consulting the Shelf List. MSS1802 90 (Paper)

Textual records As noted elsewhere within this descriptive entry, the alphabetically-arranged nominal index cards which make up Finding Aid MSS1802 have been microfilmed (reels C-10810 to C-10836 and H-1976 to H-1978). The CAB RG 1 Shelf List (see RG 1, L3 section) includes a microfilm shelf list for these reels. This shelf list indicates the range of petitioner names appearing on each reel (e.g., reel C-10810: from Aaron (Mohawk Chief) to Baker, G. W.).When using the microfilm of the index, researchers should search under possible variant spellings of a surname, and watch for inconsistencies in the filing order of the cards. MSS1802 90 (Paper)

Textual records Since the card index identifies the page reference for a Land Book or the alpha-numeric reference for a petition, copies of the CAB RG 1 Shelf Lists (L1 and L3 sections) were included as a preface to each reel when the index was microfilmed so that users may identify the corresponding microfilm reel numbers for the land minutes. MSS1802 90 (Paper)

Upper Canada Land Petitions (1763-1865): All or some of the documents described have been digitized and are available at the following address: 90 (Electronic)
http://www.collectionscanada.gc.ca/microform-digitization/006003-110.02-e.php?&q2=29&interval=50&sk=0&

Demandes de terres du Haut-Canada (1763-1865) : Les documents décrits ont été complètement ou en partie numérisés et sont disponibles à l'adresse suivante : 90 (Electronic)
http://www.collectionscanada.gc.ca/numerisation-microforme/006003-110.02-f.php?&q2=29&interval=50&sk=0&

Additional information

Related materials
The land granting process was complex and involved many officials. Records relating to land are found in other fonds in Library and Archives Canada. For example, matters of policy are the focus of land-related records found in the Office of the Governor General of Canada fonds (R-178, formerly RG7). Matters of practice relating to individual cases are the focus of land-related records found in RG 5 (Records of the Civil and Provincial Secretaries, Upper Canada and Canada West). Operational records of the Surveyor General and other officials, on the other hand, are found in the provincial archives of Ontario. For minutes of the Executive Council's deliberations and decisions on land matters, see the Land Minute Books of the Executive Council series, elsewhere within this fonds. For various other land-related records maintained by the Clerk of Council, see the Office Records of the Clerk of the Executive Council series, found elsewhere within this fonds. Not all submissions relating to lands in Upper Canada have survived and been preserved in the present series. Records created and accumulated by the District Land Boards in the period 1789-1794 form a separate series (see the Minutes and Records of the Land Boards Accumulated by the Executive Council series, elsewhere within this fonds), although their reports to the land committee of the Executive Council will be found with the land petitions in the present series. Some petitions and other submissions antedating the creation of Upper Canada as a separate province (i.e., those relating to the disposition of lands prior to 1791 in that part of the "old" Province of Quebec which became Upper Canada) are found with the Lower Canada land petitions (see the Land Petitions and Related Records of the Executive Council series in the Records of the Executive Council Office of the Province of Lower Canada fonds. Reports and other records of the Heir and Devisee Commission, which were submissions to the land committee, are found in the Records of the Heir and Devisee Commission Accumulated by the Executive Council series, elsewhere within this fonds. Further exceptions in the filing of land records are noteworthy. Questions of general land policy were not dealt with by the land committee, so the relevant documents will be found with the state submissions of Upper Canada (for which see the State Submissions of the Executive Council series, elsewhere within this fonds). Indian land titles appear to have been considered more a matter of policy than of practice. Documents relating to Indian lands may also be found in the Indian and Inuit Affairs Program sous-fonds (R216, formerly RG 10), within the Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development fonds.

Arrangement note
The arrangement of the Upper Canada Land Petitions preserves the original alpha-numeric reference assigned by the Clerk of the Executive Council. This alpha-numeric filing system, established in the late 1790s, is based on a close correlation between the petitions and the land minute books. The alpha-numeric references are based on the initial letter of the petitioner's surname, or corporate name (the "bundle letter") and the sequence in which the petition was presented to the land committee (the "petition number"). References were recorded in the margins of the land minute books and endorsed (with the date of presentation in Council) on the backs of the petitions. Petitions assigned the same letter were tied up together as a bundle, and the bundle was subsequently given a number corresponding to the land minute book in which the decisions on those petitions were recorded. The bundle numbers correlate with the land minute books in a fashion which permits tracing from the alpha-numeric designation recorded in the margins of the minutes to the petition filed under that designation; and the endorsements on the petition permit tracing from them to the relevant land minute book. The system took some time to perfect, so Bundles 1-5 overlap Land Books A-D. By 1802 the pattern was established and we see a close correspondence between the petitions in Bundles 6-22 and the minutes in Land Books E-U. It is not perfectly tidy, however, for "Miscellaneous" petitions and petitions for leases of Crown and Clergy Reserves were grouped into bundles designated by date rather than by number. The records creators did not designate bundles as "miscellaneous". That designation was applied to such records during arrangement at Library and Archives Canada. As explained in Patricia Kennedy's Introduction to the Index to the Upper Canada Land Books - Volume 3 (January 1806 to December 1816) (Toronto: Ontario Genealogical Society, 2001), the "miscellaneous" bundles follow several patterns. They include inherited records such as petitions antedating the creation of Upper Canada, many of which are records which are identifiable as having been inherited from the defunct District Land Boards (records which date largely from 1790-1795). Other "miscellaneous" bundles bring together "put by" petitions - those lacking the necessary documentation for immediate action - and those relating to contested claims. Still others include refused/rejected petitions. Archivist intervention at Library and Archives Caanda evidently also contributed in obscuring the nature and order of the "miscellaneous" bundles. As Ms. Kennedy notes in the Introduction mentioned above: "Frequently-used letters of the alphabet may have more than one Miscellaneous bundle of each type - in part because archivists subdivided large bundles. Empirical evidence suggests archivists lumped together several small Miscellaneous bundles for the less-frequently-used letters". Following the union of Upper and Lower Canada in 1841, the Clerk of the Executive Council of the Province of Canada continued the filing system developed in Upper Canada but created a new series of land minute books lettered A-I and bundles of land petitions numbered 1-9. These latter records are described in the Land Submissions to the Executive Council series, in the Records of the Executive Council Office of the Province of Canada fonds. However, since the finding aid which serves the present series also serves petitions in that series, users must exercise caution not to confuse bundle letters and petition numbers relevant to the two separate groups of records. The petition numbers reflect the order in which cases were considered and decided upon by the land committee. Documents submitted in support of a petition might be of significantly earlier date, but formed part of a file under the petition's alpha-numeric reference. When the dates of supporting documents are identified in the a CAB RG 1 Shelf List they create the illusion of a discrepancy between the petitions and the Land Books. Within the series itself, each volume of petitions is prefaced by a list of petitioners. These lists were a means of access prior to the preparation by the National Archives of the card index which today forms the finding aid to the records. The notation "missing" in these lists serves to identify petitions which could not be located at the time the series was first prepared for microfilming. Evidence has been found to indicate that petitions were removed from the series and forwarded to other government offices when questions of land title arose. Tracing the "missing" petitions is rarely feasible. Some petitions were brought forward to support a case, as when a claimant resubmitted his application, and can be found elsewhere within the land petitions. Cross-references have been provided, such as that indicating that Daniel Babcock's 1840 petition B 22/131 is filed with his 1841 petition, B 1/54. Similar cross-references identify maps and plans transferred to the Cartographic and Architectural Archives Section, Government Records Branch for secure storage.

Prior to the most recent intellectual re-arrangement exercise (undertaken in 2002-2003), the main body of records which now make up the present series was included within Record Group 1, series L3, a series which also included land submissions and related records from the Province of Canada period. In the intellectual arrangement presented here now, the Upper Canada material has been separated from the records of the Province of Canada, the latter now forming a distinct series within the Executive Council of the Province of Canada fonds. Effectively, this leaves the present series including the Upper Canada portion of former RG 1, series L3. To this one additional volume, the contents of which relate to the Executive Council's land disposition functions but which had heretofore been included within another series of the former Record Group 1, has now been added .

Citation / reference note
Patricia Kennedy's Introduction to the Index to the Upper Canada Land Books - Volume 3 (January 1806 to December 1816) (Toronto: Ontario Genealogical Society, 2001) provides a succinct and extremely useful description of the land-granting process in Upper Canada. It summarizes the steps which an applicant for land was required to take, describes the roles of the various officials involved, and discusses the relationships among the records created in the land-granting process. In addition, Appendix III of the National Archives publication Public Archives of Canada, Manuscript Division: Preliminary Inventory, Record Group 1, Executive Council, Canada, 1764-1867 (Ottawa: Queen's Printer, 1953) reprints Surveyor General Thomas Ridout's 1818 report to Sir Peregrine Maitland in which Ridout summarizes the history of land-granting in the colony to 1818 and outlines the process by which land was disposed.

Preferred citation note
Suggestions on proper citation style for the records in this series are provided in the CAB RG 1 Shelf List (see RG 1, L3 section). In that the preservation of the original alpha-numeric designations for the petitions in this series precluded the use of page numbers, users should take special care in citing material when ordering copies, in order to avoid confusion. Recommended citation for copying order purposes is also provided in the Shelf List.

Availability of other formats note
All but one volume of the records in this series are available on microfilm. Microfilming of all records formerly included within RG 1, series L3 was undertaken in 1962-1965, and re-filmed in 1991-92. Microfilmed copies are available on reels C-1609 to C-1615, C-1618 to C-1636, C-1644 to C-1653, C-1723 to C-1732, C-1740 to C-1745, C-1875 to C-1880, C-1885 to C-1891, C-1893 to C-1900, C-2022 to C-2023, C-2027 to C-2036, C-2041 to C-2053, C-2095 to C-2097, C-2105 to C-2113, C-2115 to C-2120, C-2123 to C-2132, C-2137 to C-2141, C-2188 to C-2204, C-2206 to C-2216, C-2218 to C-2219, C-2233 to C-2236, C-2481 to C-2482, C-2484 to C-2486, C-2488 to C-2492, C-2731A to C-2733, C-2737 to C-2748, C-2803 to C-2821, C-2830 to C-2838, C-2841 to C-2842, C-2947 to C-2961, C-2967 to C-2969, C-2980 to C-2985. For lists correlating volume numbers with microfilm reel numbers, see the finding aids cited elsewhere within this descriptive entry. Microfilming of the card index to the above-noted records (finding aid MSS1802) was undertaken in 1981 and supplementary entries were filmed in 1991. The microfilm copies are available on reels C-10810 to C-10836 (1981 filming) and H-1976 to H-1978 (1991 supplementary filming). For lists correlating microfilm reel numbers with index information contained on each reel, see the finding aids cited elsewhere within this descriptive entry.

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