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Historical Notes



The Atlas of Canada.

Following the Constitutional Act of 1791, the colony of Quebec was divided to create Upper Canada (today Ontario) and Lower Canada (today Quebec). According to the Act of Union of 1841, Upper and Lower Canada were united into the Province of Canada. Upper Canada was renamed Canada West and Lower Canada was renamed Canada East. The Province of Canada joined Confederation on July 1, 1867 and Canada West officially became Ontario.

This area was originally inhabited by a number of Native tribes, including the Huron, Iroquois, Ojibwa and Cree. The first European settlement, the Jesuit mission of Sainte-Marie-au-pays-des-Hurons (Sainte-Marie Among the Hurons), goes back to the seventeenth century.

Although there were a few French settlements in the Detroit area in particular, there was not intensive settlement before the 1780s. The basic population of Ontario consisted of Loyalists who had fled the American Revolutionary War, followed in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries by immigrants from the United States and the British Isles.

There were also some Quebec inhabitants who settled in eastern and northeastern Ontario beginning in the late-nineteenth century.

Researchers interested in ancestors who lived in Ontario use the main types of genealogical sources.

Provincial Websites

Archives of Ontario


Carleton Centre for the History of Migration

Federal Census of 1871 (Ontario Index)

Genealogical Research in the Archives of Ontario


Institute of Canadian Studies, University of Ottawa

Ontario Cemetery Finding Aid

Ontario Genealogical Society

Ottawa Public Library

Société franco-ontarienne d'histoire et de généalogie

Toronto Reference Library

Vital Statistics: Birth, Marriage and Death Records

The official provincial government Web site
[] contains useful information about the province and its historic records.

The Canadian Encyclopedia Online
[] allows you to learn more about the history, geography and people of Ontario.

Many libraries hold reference books, local histories, family histories and other books on genealogy. Library and Archives Canada allows you to Browse Lists of Canadian Library Web Sites and Catalogues by province.

The sections on What to Search: Topics and Genealogy Links of this site can provide more useful information about how to do genealogical research in Ontario. You can also access databases from our Directory of Canadian Genealogical Resources - AVITUS.

To Learn More

You can also consult the following book:

Genealogy in Ontario: searching the records, by Brenda Dougall Merriman, 2002.