The Simcoe’s Gentry project began in 1997, led by volunteer Diana K. Park (1926–2001) whose formidable investigative and organizational skills got us off on the right foot.
This web publication is dedicated to her memory.
Each of the approximately 80 articles that will eventually be a part of Simcoe’s Gentry has been written for the project by a volunteer author. Many researcher/writers have been (and continue to be) involved—members of the Ontario Genealogical Society, Toronto Branch, other genealogists and historians, and even some descendants of the Park Lot owners.
However, Diana Park and her research team spent many hours on basic research that provided a sound beginning for the researcher/writers.
- The first step was to confirm the chronological history of land ownership with extensive research in Crown Land and Land Registry records. This provided not only the names of the grantees, but also clues to establish a timeline for the grantee, and frequently, names of family members.
- The team combed through published books and periodicals for references to the families. Many of the families were prominent and there was plenty of information, but that was not the case for a surprising number of subjects.
- The research team also looked for estate files for the grantees and their descendants in the records of the Court of Probate and Surrogate Courts.
- Manuscript collections at Toronto’s archives and libraries have also been a rich resource. Diana’s research team identified and examined many relevant fonds, adding primary documentation to the subject files.
- A final step in the preparation was to connect the research to the present. Diana and some members of her team did walking tours of many of the Park Lots, looking for buildings, street names and physical features that could be tied backed to the early 19th century.
Generous files of information were compiled for each of the 41 Park Lots and Township Lots. Diana recruited researcher/writers for most of the 80 articles, and had shepherded many draft articles through the proofreading and revision process.
Before she died in April 2001, Diana passed along superbly organized files showing the progress of articles, but without a leader, the task of completing Simcoe’s Gentry was daunting.
Our solution is this web-based publication that will allow us to add articles one at a time. Each article you see on the web site has been updated (and frequently augmented) with information from newly available or newly indexed sources, by the researcher/writer and/or the editorial team.
We have used primary documentation whenever possible, and our aim is for footnotes that are both complete and generously linked. We know there’s more to the story, and we hope that our readers will continue the research.
Jane E. MacNamara, editor.