Monday, April 26, 2010

Canadian Districts, Jurisdictions, Counties, et al - Are You Confused?

On February 13, 2010, I posted a blog entry entitled, "What is Canada West?." When I first saw the term "Canada West," I assumed that Canada West referred to the Northwest Territories and the provinces of British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan and even Manitoba. As I pointed out in the February 13th blog entry, I was quite wrong. I am repeating below a bit of what I said in that blog entry.

The variations between French law and British law became an issue in Canada when the Loyalists from the American War of Independence, were settling into the parts of French Canada that are currently in the Province of Ontario. French Canada was split into Lower Canada and Upper Canada. Lower Canada retained the French rules of law. Upper Canada comprised the southern part of today's Ontario. This split occurred December 26, 1791.

The Rebellion of Upper Canada in 1837 over the allocation of land resulted in changing the names of Upper and Lower Canada. On February 10, 1841, Lower Canada became known as Canada East and Upper Canada called Canada West. These names lasted about 27 years when the Dominion of Canada was established in 1867. At this time Canada West was called the Province of Ontario. You can guess what Canada East was called.

Just when I got the dates of the various names for Ontario and Quebec memorized, I find myself being confused about which county a town resides. I have relatives who were Loyalists and settled around Niagara Falls, Ontario. The early records indicate that they settled in what was called the Home District. However, in 1798, a new district was formed from the Home District and was called the Niagara District.

As I was locating records of these relatives and their descendants throughout the 19th century, I found records that had Niagara Falls in Lincoln County and then later in Welland County. The Niagara District existed between 1798 and 1849. Between 1849 and 1851, the southern portion of Lincoln County was split off and called Welland County.

Just when I thought that I had all this straight, I have come to learn that in the latter part of the 20th Century, this area became part of the Regional Municipality of Niagara. So it seems that we and our ancestors researching us will always be faced with the changes of time.

No comments:

Post a Comment