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Getting and Keeping Land in Upper Canada

January 12, 2023 @ 7:30 pm – January 26, 2023 @ 7:30 pm
$35 / $30 for OGS members
Getting and Keeping Land in Upper Canada @ THREE-PART ONLINE SERIES

Looking to dig a little deeper into early Ontario research? It is all about land—who got it , how and why, and how they kept it. This three-session series by three in-demand speakers will explore some of the lesser-known but richest sources of land and family information—many of which are now digitized and available for free.

Each session will consist of a presentation and an opportunity to ask questions.

Note: The lectures will be recorded, so that registrants who can’t attend the live presentations may watch at a more convenient time.

January 12, 7:30 pm

The Beginning: From Indigenous to Loyalist Hands
This presentation is the first in a series of three related to getting land and keeping it in Upper Canada. It represents the first steps in our province to grant land formerly occupied by First Nations to early settlers, including many United Empire Loyalists. The three main types of Loyalists are explained, as well as the persecutions they endured, and their journeys to reach safety. It then follows their attempts to seek compensation for losses, to obtain those land grants promised to them, and their first difficult years in a new land. Sources which yield historical and genealogical information from the years of the American Revolution and afterwards will be discussed. Lastly, you will be taken along on the research journey of an American Loyalist descendant, revealing the types of documents leading to a certificate and recognition from the United Empire Loyalist Association of Canada.

Speaker: Linda Corupe, U.E., the author of over 50 books on genealogy and history and a well-known researcher and presenter, is a descendant of a United Empire Loyalist from the Napanee area. Among her notable publications are annotated transcriptions of court records, heir and devisee records, and bastardy affidavits. Linda earned her B.A. from McMaster University and is a member of the United Empire Loyalist Association of Canada, the Ontario Genealogical Society and the Ontario Historical Society. One of her favourite places to be is at the Archives of Ontario, where she has spent countless hours researching for both clients and her own interests.

January 19, 7:30 pm

The Heir & Devisee Commissions for Early Ontario Research
The crown land granting process could get messy in Upper Canada, especially when the original locatee died before he (occasionally she) could complete the settlement duties and paperwork to receive the patent. Enter the Heir and Devisee Commissions. The First and Second Heir and Devisee Commissions were set up to help sort through the mess and determine who was entitled to the patent, sometimes long after the original locatee died. The records generated by the HDCs are a fabulous resource for genealogists, as claimants submitted all kinds of information and documents in their attempt to prove their claims. These can include unprobated original wills, unfiled land petitions, names of children who died young, missing and presumed deceased people, and otherwise undocumented wives’ names. This presentation will explain the history of the HDCs, show you some fascinating examples of what you can find in the records, and walk you through the process of finding your ancestor’s HDC claim file.

Speaker: Janice Nickerson is a professional genealogist based in Toronto. Her expertise includes Upper Canadian history, criminal justice records, turning bare bones genealogies into shareable family stories, and using genealogy gifts and games to create a legacy. Visit Janice’s website:

January 26, 7:30 pm

Untangling Township Papers
This final presentation in the series will show you a highly-organized series of records—resulting from the very hectic and disorganized activities of the Crown Lands Department. Consider some 72 metres of “orphaned” land-related records, often submitted or pulled from their original files because of a dispute or enquiry. Before being sent to the Archives of Ontario, these records were sorted by township and lot to make them accessible. Not quite comprehensive, but covering a large percentage of Ontario properties, these files may contain everything from warrants, location tickets, and settlement duty certificates, to assignments and transfers, explanatory notes and diagrams, letters from neighbours and other witnesses—anything that might prove ownership or occupancy and settle disputes. This session will show you how to check your ancestor’s property and neighbouring properties, understand the documentation you find and to follow the clues to untangle the full story.

Speaker: Jane E. MacNamara is the author of Inheritance in Ontario: Wills and other Records for Family Historians (OGS/Dundurn) and writes about genealogy at A long time member of OGS, Jane lectures about research methodology, Ontario, and English family history to genealogical and historical groups throughout southern Ontario. She teaches courses for Toronto Branch OGS, most notably hands-on courses about Ontario records.

Click here to register.