How the Ontario Genealogical Society's Toronto Branch is making records more accessible—and how you can help

Fred Blair’s Militia Research

Fred Blair’s work with the 3rd York Militia rolls began with research into his own family. “In 1990, one of my cousins travelled to the archives in Ottawa to look through the York Militia Rolls microfilms from the War of 1812 for records for our ancestor, Ebenezer Blair, who claimed to have been a “York Volunteer” in his 1824 Upper Canada Land Petition. I enjoyed this research challenge and became interested in helping other family historians find their ancestors within this collection and other war records. My interest broadened into compiling stories of life in Upper Canada during the War of 1812 and the creation of my blog at warof1812cdnstories.blogspot.ca.”

It became obvious that transcripts, indices and other research aids to the records would make research into the York Militia regiments and work on related War of 1812 memorial projects much easier. Fred has, as a result, produced:

  • An index to the known militia rolls. A number of rolls have not survived the last 200 years for a number of reasons. There is an index to the 3rd York Militia rolls at Collections Canada, although this is not the only source for the rolls. Some rolls were found in the Ridout Fonds at the Ontario Archives along with a transcript of one of Lieutenant Ely Playter’s rolls and some of Duncan Cameron’s as well.
  • Transcribed the militia rolls into a digital format so that they could be easily searched. The transcripts of the 3rd York Militia from Collections Canada will be added to this project.
  • Prepared an alphabetical muster roll of all the known veterans in the regiment from all the known collections and index which collection contained each name. The 3rd York Muster Roll will be added to this project. It will also record known years of birth and death, probable area of residence during the war, and occupation.
  • Compiled all the service records for each name in the alphabetical roll to form a service record for each veteran. Other documents helped fill in some information from missing militia rolls.
  • Added information from other War of 1812 documents to each veteran’s service record. This step required looking at orphan pensions, widow pensions, wounded pensions, aid from benevolent societies, war loss claims, militia land grant claims, militia land grant recipients, Detroit prize money recipients, the 1847 General Service Medal recipients, a prisoner of war register, the 1875 pensioners list and a large number of local and war histories.
  • Researched family histories for as many veterans. This work required partnerships with local groups and family historians interested in their ancestor’s experiences during the war. Some of the sources used were online genealogy groups, historical societies, the Upper Canada Land Petitions, land records, the Upper Canada Sundries, assize court records, post war township assessments, historical atlases and first patent maps.

The results to date of this work on the 3rd York Militia War of 1812 Veterans can now be viewed on the Veteran’s Profiles pages.