This month there was an opportunity to attend a zoom course on Canadian Land Records. Even though I’ve delved into these records in the past, I am a firm believer in revisiting sources. New resources and your own personal growth may lead you to new discoveries. One of our assignments was to verify our land location and history. This led me back to sites I’d used in the past. Let’s look.
I found the Ontario Heritage Pin site to be a great way to find township maps* but I didn’t pay any attention to other links that were available including census records, directories and tax rolls. While the census record links take you to LACS site which does not have the actual images, you could look at these in Ancestry or a similar site. The tab that was most interesting to me is the Assessment Records. In the case of Bentinck Township, Grey County, Ontario, the links to assessments for various years leads directly to the digital files on FamilySearch. This is so much easier than searching through all the records. While not indexed, if you know the location of your ancestor’s land, you can find your person by reviewing the images. Keep in mind that some of these lists include a range of years so your ancestor may be listed in more than one year within those images.
On these Assessment Records, you can find the landowner’s name, age, number of people in family, concession & lot numbers, religion (strange item to capture in this type of record in my opinion), number of acres tilled, number of sheep, cattle, swine, and horses. And since this is a tax assessment, the value of the land is listed. Another interesting column is whether a person is a resident or not. I am in the process of transcribing these records for my ancestor and his brother-in-law. I will then compare that information with the census records, agricultural censuses, and the actual land records. Remember to look at neighbors who appear on census records. It is a great way to see how your ancestor was doing in comparison.
In addition to looking at these records manually, FamilySearch also allows you to search the records. I cross-checked and discovered a couple more years by doing the search, using my ancestor’s name, township, and county in the search.
I think that tax and assessment records are an overlooked resource for genealogists. I certainly didn’t expect to find ages, number in family or religion listed. I hope you find this a valuable resource. Happy searching!
*The links to the maps do not appear to be working right now because that data was moved to the new AIMS database. You can find the maps there, but they are not scanned at a high resolution. If you go to the main page of Ontario Heritage and choose maps, you can view county maps for most. In my case, there isn’t on for Grey County yet. I’ll share more about the AIM in a future blog.
With a lifelong passion for genealogy and history, the author enjoys the opportunity to share genealogy tidbits, inspiring others to research and write their family story.