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Crown Land Records: Introduction


Black and white photograph of River Running Through a Pristine Wilderness Area
Trees at Shell Brook, 1955
Ontario, Northern
John MacFie
Black and white negative
Reference Code: C 330-13-0-0-94
Archives of Ontario, I0000421

The following microfilm contains documents relating to the grant, sale or lease of Crown Lands. Most of these records originated in the Office of the Surveyor General or the Crown Lands Department. Land patent indexes created by Provincial Secretary's Official Documents section are also included here as well as records of the Heir and Devisee Commission.

Many of the records are summarized in the Ontario Land Records Index, available on microfiche at many libraries and archives.

The following records are available on interloan


With the exception of the land patents, all of the records listed below will be found in RG 1 (Crown Lands and Resources).  These records were initially processed into series that had reference codes composed of numbers, letters and Roman numerals (e.g., RG 1-C-VII).  These alphanumeric reference codes were used in the creation of the Ontario Land Records Index (see Research Guide 205 “How to Use the Ontario Land Records Index” [Word, PDF]) and during the microfilming of hundreds of the most heavily used Crown Land volumes.

In 2001-2002, a comprehensive re-arrangement of RG 1 was carried out, with the new series being assigned strictly numeric codes (e.g., RG 1-99).  These new descriptions are listed below and in Research Guide 215 “From Grant to Patent: A Guide to Early Land Settlement Records” [Word, PDF].

The RG 1 Reference Code Conversion List has been created to link the old alphanumeric reference codes used in Ontario Land Records Index and the RG 1 microfilm with the current series presented below and in the Archives Descriptive Database.

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Petitions for land, 1827-1856. (Series RG 1-54-2)

This microfilm contains petitions for grants or leases of crown lands as well as petitions for licenses as Provincial Land Surveyors. Library and Archives Canada/Bibliothèque et Archives Canada hold the majority of petitions for crown land in Upper Canada. The Upper Canada Land Petitions (NAC Series RG 1, L 3) can be borrowed on microfilm from the Library and Archives Canada/Bibliothèque et Archives Canada.

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Orders-in-Council kept by the Office of the Commissioner of Crown Lands, 1787-1873. (Series RG 1-50)

This microfilm contains Orders-in-Council issued by the Lieutenant Governor, authorizing the sale, lease or free grant of crown lands. The majority of Orders-in-Council for crown land in Upper Canada are held by Library and Archives Canada. They form the Upper Canada Land Books (NAC Series RG 1 E 1) and can be borrowed on microfilm from the Library and Archives Canada/Bibliothèque et Archives Canada.

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Fiats for land grants - old regulations, 1796-1851. (Series RG 1-145)

The Attorney General's Fiat was a key document in the land granting process. After an Order-in-Council authorizing the land grant was issued, the Attorney General issued a fiat containing the petitioner's name and details of their land grant. Upon receiving the fiat, the Surveyor-General assigned a parcel of land to the petitioner and issued them a location ticket. In the Surveyor-General's Office, the fiats were renumbered and categorized according to the regulations under which they were issued

Fiats - Old Regulations

After 1818, the Attorney General's fiat began to be replaced by the Warrant. In 1835, the Attorney General's fiat was discontinued except for extraordinary land grants. In the Surveyor-General's Office, warrants were categorized according to the regulations under which they were issued

In addition to the above Fiats and Warrants, the following registers have also survived:

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Returns, lists and schedules of locations, 1793-1904. (Series RG 1-174)

This microfilm contains registers of location tickets issued by the Office of the Surveyor General or Commissioner of Crown Lands.

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Assignments of land grants and sales registered with the Commissioner of Crown Lands, 1838-1869. (Series RG 1-57)

This microfilm contains assignments, whereby an individual entitled to a free grant of land assigned his or her grant to another person.

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Settlement duty agreements, [ca. 1800-1818]. (Series RG 1-167)

This microfilm contains volumes recording the completion of settlement duties required for the issuance of a patent on free grants land in Upper Canada.

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Descriptions of land grants, leases, sales, assignments, and licenses of occupation, 1794-1996, predominant 1794-1916. (Series RG 1-53)

Descriptions are the authorization to the Provincial Secretary to prepare and issue a patent. Prepared by the Surveyor-General after the completion of all conditions attached to a land grant or lease, descriptions were assigned a number according to the regulations under which the grant or lease was made. There were 30 different types of description at various times, of which only 12 have survived. For an indexes of the various types, please see MS 693, reels 179 and 180.

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Nassau District Land Board minutes, 1788-1792. (Series RG 1-177)

This microfilm contains miscellaneous documents pertaining to land grants and the administration of crown lands.

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Sales

Applications to purchase public lands, 1826-1854. (Series RG 1-182)

Under the 1826 regulations, people wishing to purchase crown land had to submit a written application to the Surveyor-General, and after 1827, to the Commissioner of Crown Lands.

Clergy reserve sales registers, 1829-1924. (Series RG 1-386)

In July 1827, the Imperial Parliament ordered the clergy reserves to be sold. To limit speculation, actual settlement on the land was mandatory, and payment of rent arrears on leased lots was required before any sale.

Returns and statements relating to the sale of Crown lands and clergy reserves submitted to the Crown Lands Department by land agents, 1821-1871. (Series RG 1-21-2-6)

This series contains registers recording to the sale of crown lands across Ontario.

Crown and Clergy Reserves, 1832-1905. (Series RG 1-21-2-13)

This series contains incomplete set of registers recording relating to the sale of crown and clergy lands.

Register of fiats for school land sales, 1824-1845. (Series RG 1-173)

This series contains registers recording the sale of School Lands.

Indian land sales records, 1807-1867. (Series RG 1-88)

This series contains registers recording the sale of Indian Lands.

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Inspector General's Office

Inspector General's Loyalist registers, [ca. 1802-1875]. (Series RG 1-515)

This microfilm contains two registers of United Empire Loyalist claimants in Upper Canada complied by the Inspector General's Office.

The first register (RG 1-515-0-0-1) is labelled "Old U.E. List" and consists of two parts. Part 1 is an alphabetical listing of Loyalist claimants. With entries cross-referenced to a variety of military, Land Board, and Provision lists and Part 2 is an alphabetical list of Loyalist names, some of which have been crossed off. The cross-offs appear to be individuals expunged from the List.

The second register (RG 1-515-0-0-2) consists of an alphabetical list of Loyalist claimants, providing information about their military service and basis of their claim. The letter "S" beside a name indicates that the individual was suspended from the list because of an invalid claim.

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Land Patents

A land patent is a document transferring ownership of a piece of real estate from the Crown to a private individual or corporation. Once the patent is issued, the land is considered private property. All subsequent ownership records will be at the local Land Registry Office.

Index to Land Patents by District, 1793-1825. (Series RG 53-2)

This series consists of indexes to land patents arranged by District then by surname initial of the grantee, then by the date of the Patent. The Index gives: name of patentee, date of Patent, number of acres, location of property, Liber (Book) number and Folio (Page) number.

Index to Land Patents by Township, 1793-1852. (Series RG 53-55)

This series consists of an index of patents alphabetically arranged by Township, then by date of Patent. The entries give: the patentee's name, the property location, patent date, the Liber (Book) and Folio (Page) numbers, and number of acres granted.

Index to Land Patents by Name, 1826-1967. (Series RG 53-56)

This microfilm consists of a surname index to land patents.

To obtain copies of land patents, please contact:

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Office of the Surveyor General, the Commissioner of Crown Lands:

Inspection and valuation returns on land for the Western District, 1829-1909. (Sub-series RG 1-95-15).

This sub-series consists of inspection and valuation reports on crown lands, clergy reserves and other ungranted public lands.

Statements, returns, schedules and reports relating to the lease of Crown lands and clergy reserves, 1811-1922. (Series RG 1-20).

This series consists of statements and reports documenting the various activities of the Crown Lands Department. Much of the documentation appears to have been prepared for the Legislative Assembly in response to questions or requests for information.

Registers, 1797-1896. (Series RG 1-25).

This series consists of miscellaneous registers used to record the receipt of incoming and outgoing documentation including land scrip.

Schedules and Land Rolls, 1784-1922. (Series RG 1-32).

This series consists of miscellaneous schedules and land rolls documenting various aspects of crown lands administration, especially the disposition of land.

Correspondence and memoranda relating to surveys received by the Surveyor General, arranged chronologically(Sub-Series RG 1-2-2 )

Included are: orders-in-council based on the petitions of individuals; survey instructions and orders, internal correspondence and memoranda on the operations of the Office of the Surveyor General; correspondence with surveyors, Land Board reports; and descriptions of land.

Correspondence and memoranda relating to lands administration received by the Surveyor General, 1786-1905. 1786-1905. (Series RG 1-2-4).

This series consists of correspondence, arranged by date, received by the Surveyor-General and Commissioner of Crown Lands Offices relating to all aspects of land administration, including settlement roads and resource development. Each letter has been assigned a unique number from 1 to 33,896. A partial subject and name index to this series, "Crown Lands Index", is available in the Archives' Reading Room.

Register of memorials, petitions and letters referred to the Surveyor General's Office by Government House (Series RG 1-4)

Series consists of a register of memorials, petitions, and letters which were referred for action to the Surveyor General's Office by Government House (the Lieutenant-Governor's Office).

Registers of letters received by the Surveying Department relating to surveys RG 1-5

Series consists of registers of letters relating to surveys which were received by the Surveying Department, Canada West.

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Military Land Grants

Indices to applications by Fenian volunteers. (Sub-series RG 1-99-1)

This sub-series consists of alphabetical indexes to applications by Fenian volunteers for land grants. The grantees file number is recorded under the heading "pages". The grant files are not available on interlibrary Loan.

Indices to applications by South African volunteers. (Sub-series RG 1-99-3)

This sub-series consists of alphabetical indexes to applications by "South Africans" for land grants. The grantee's file number is recorded under the heading "pages". The grant files are not available on interlibrary Loan.

Registers of Fenian and South African volunteer land grants. (Sub-series RG 1-99-8)

This sub-series consists of registers documenting grants of land made to Fenian and South African volunteers. Each entry contains all or some of the following information: a certificate number; the name of the grantee; the place of their enrolment; their rank, regiment and years of service; the location of the land granted (township, concession and lot) and its acreage; the date of the location; a description for the patent; the date of the patent; and remarks concerning crown sales.

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Township Papers, [ca. 1783-1870]. (Series RG 1-58)

This series consists of a miscellaneous collection of Crown Land documents. They include: copies of Orders-in-Council, location certificates and tickets, assignments, certificates of settlement duties, copies of receipts, some correspondence (mostly inquiries), copies of Surveyor-General's descriptions, and a few patents.

The records are arranged by township, town or village. Within each township, records are arranged by concession and within each concession by lot number. Towns and villages are identified as such and documents within these sections are arranged alphabetically by name of locatee.


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First and Second Heir and Devisee Commission Records

This microfilm consists of records documenting the review and determination of claims for land brought forward by the heirs, devisees, and assignees of individuals originally located by the Crown on land, in cases where no letters patent had been issued. The First Heir and Devisee Commission was in existence between 1797 and 1805. The majority of its records are held by the Library and Archives Canada/Bibliothèque et Archives Canada. The Second Heir and Devisee Commission was in existence from 1805 until 1911, although it ceased meeting in 1896.

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