A petition was a letter from a settler to the Lieutenant Governor requesting a grant of crown land. Before 1826, most settlers were able to petition for free land grants. After 1826, free grants were available only to loyalist or military settlers. All other settlers had to purchase land. The petition usually included the name of petitioner, date of petition, military regiment if applicable. Some include additional information about the petitioner's family and/or situation.
The petitions themselves are at Library & Archives Canada and/or Archives of Ontario. They are indexed by surname with place of application, date of petition and the number of the petition (which you will use to locate the actual petition on microfilm).
How to Use It
- Search the index first.
- Write down the details, including microfilm, volume, bundle and page numbers.
- Browse the Upper Canada Land Petitions (1763-1865) (ARCHIVED - Microform Digitization) to find the petition. Be aware that some of the "reels" are more than 1000 pages long, so the browsing process can be quite time-consuming.
Tip: One way to approach such a large file is to "keep splitting in half." For example, if you're browsing a 1000-page "reel," start with page 500 and decide whether you need to browse forward or backward from there. If forward, split the last half of the reel in half—i.e. try page 750. If backward, split the first half of the reel in half—i.e. try page 250. Keep applying this principle until you zoom in on the correct page; it is more efficient than making random guesses.