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Description of the districts and counties of Ontario

This was written to give genealogists alternative geographic names to search.

Many older records are listed under the names of former jurisdictions that and may easily be overlooked. This is because before 1849 districts were the levels of government between municipalities and provincial governments while counties were merely militia districts.

Counties were more numerous and of smaller area than districts and took over district functions when the population justified the change. Do not expect boundaries to neatly overlap.

For example: Parts of Carleton County were formerly within the following districts at various times: Eastern, Midland, Johnstown, Ottawa, Bathurst and Dalhousie. Some records were also are listed under Eastern Ontario which may include several counties.

DISTRICTS -- OVERVIEW

1788 - To 1788 all of southern Ontario was part of the Montreal District. Then Southern Ontario was sub-divided into the Districts of Hesse, Nassau, Mecklenburg and Lunenburg.

1791 - The old Province of Quebec was divided into Lower and Upper Canada.

1792 - The districts were renamed (Hesse to Western; Nassau to Home; Mecklenburg to Midland and Lunenburg to Eastern).

1798 - Boundaries of were redrawn and new districts created.

1802 - Newcastle District formed from the Home District.

1816 - Ottawa District was formed from the Eastern District. Gore District was formed from the Home and Niagara Districts.

1822 - Bathurst District formed from the Johnstown District.

1831 - Prince Edward District formed from the Midland District

1837-8 - Major reorganization of the districts resulted in many new districts.

1849 - Districts discontinued. Counties take over former duties of districts.

For maps showing these changes see Ontario Genealogical Society's 'Families' Volume 20 No.2 1981 - 'Districts and Counties of Ontario, 1777-1975 - Two Centuries of Evolution'.


INDIVIDUAL DISTRICTS

BATHURST - Formed from Johnstown District, 1822. In 1838 loses east part to Dalhousie District and gains part of Johnstown District

BROCK - Formed from part of the London District, 1837.

COLBOURNE - Formed from the Newcastle District, 1837. By 1845 the southern border was moved south to take over more of the Newcastle District.

DALHOUSIE - Formed from Johnstown, Ottawa and Bathurst Districts, 1838.

EASTERN - The successor to the Lunenburg District, 1792. The western part was transferred to the Johnstown District, 1798. The north half was transferred to the Ottawa District, 1816.

GORE - Formed from the Niagara and Home Districts, 1816. Loses part to Wellington District, 1837.

HESSE - Formed 1788. Renamed Western District, 1792.

HOME - The successor to the Nassau District, 1792. Loses the south-western part to Niagara District and gains part of the Western District, 1798. Loses eastern part to Newcastle District, 1802. Loses part to Gore District, 1816. Loses part to Simcoe District, 1837.

HURON - Formed from unorganized territories, 1838. By 1845 more of the unorganized territories are added.

JOHNSTOWN - Formed form parts of the Eastern and Midland Districts, 1798. Loses the eastern half to Bathurst District,1822. Loses parts to Dalhousie and Bathurst Districts.

LONDON - Formed from the Western District, 1798. Loses part to the Niagara District, 1816. Loses parts to the Talbot and Brock Districts, 1837.

LUNENBURG - Formed in 1788. Renamed Eastern District, 1792. Originally spelt Luneburg.

MECKLENBURG - Formed in 1788. Renamed Midland District, 1792.

MONTREAL - District that included southern Ontario and part of Quebec. Divided in 1788.

MIDLAND - Successor to Mecklenburg District, 1792. Loses eastern part to Johnstown District but gains part of the Home District. Loses part to Prince Edward District, 1831. Loses western part to Victoria District, 1837.

NASSAU - Formed in 1788. Renamed Home District, 1792.

NEWCASTLE - Formed from the Home District, 1802. Loses part to Colbourne District, 1837. By 1845 northern border with Colbourne District moved south.

NIAGARA - Formed from the Home and Western Districts, 1798. Loses part to Gore District and gains part of London District, 1816

OTTAWA - Formed from the Eastern District, 1816. Loses western part to Dalhousie District, 1838.

PRINCE EDWARD - formed from the Midland District, 1831.

SIMCOE - Formed from part of the Home District, 1837. By 1845 southeastern part transferred was to Wellington District.

TALBOT - Formed from part of London District, 1837.

VICTORIA - Formed from the western half of the Midland District, 1837.

WELLINGTON - Formed from the Gore District and unorganized territories, 1837. By 1845 part of Simcoe District and unorganized territories were added.

WESTERN - Successor to Hesse District, 1792. Loses large parts to Niagara and London Districts, 1798.


COUNTIES

ADDINGTON - see LENNOX and ADDINGTON

BRANT - Formed from parts of Wentworth, Oxford and Halton Counties, 1851. Districts: Western, 1788-1798; Niagara, 1798-1816; London, 1798-1837; Home, 1798-1816; Gore, 1816-1850 and Brock, 1837-1850.

BRUCE - Formed from unorganized territories in 1850.

CARLETON - Eastern District, 1788-1838; Midland District, 1788-1798; Johnstown District, 1798-1838; Ottawa District, 1816-1822; Bathurst District, 1822-1838 and Dalhousie District 1838-1850.

DUFFERIN - Formed form Simcoe, Wellington and Grey Counties in 1881. Districts: Western, 1788-1798; Home, 1788-1837; Gore, 1821-1837; Simcoe, 1837-1850; Wellington, 1837-1850.

DUNDAS - Eastern District, 1788-1850.

DURHAM - Home District, 1788-1802; Newcastle District, 1802-1850.

ELGIN - Western District, 1788-1798; Newcastle District, 1802-1850.

ESSEX - Western District, 1788-1850.

FRONTENAC - Midland District, 1788-1850.

GLENGARRY - Eastern District, 1788-1850.

GRENVILLE - Eastern District, 1788-1798; Johnstown District, 1798-1850.

GREY - Formed from Waterloo and Simcoe Counties, 1850. Districts: Western, 1788-98; Home, 1798-1837; Simcoe, 1837-1850; Wellington, 1837-1850.

HALDIMAND - Home District, 1788-1798; Western District, 1788-1798; Niagara District, 1798-1850; London District, 1798-1826; Talbot District, 1845-1850; Gore District, 1845-1850.

HALIBURTON - Formed from Peterborough County, 1874. Districts: Home, 1788-1802; Newcastle, 1802-1837; Colbourne, 1837-1850.

HALTON - Home District, 1788-1821; Western District, 1788-1798; Gore District, 1816-1850.

HASTINGS - Home District, 1788-1798; Midland District, 1788-1837; Victoria District, 1837-1850.

HURON - Western District, 1788-98; unorganized territories, 1798-1838; Huron District; 1838-1850.

LAMBTON - Formed from Kent County, 1849. Western District, 1788-1850

LANARK - Midland District, 1788-1798; Eastern District, 1788-1798; Johnstown District, 1798-1838; Bathurst District, 1838-1850.

LEEDS - Eastern District, 1788-1798; Midland District, 1788-1798; Johnstown District, 1798-1850.

LENNOX and ADDINGTON - Midland District, 1788-1850.

LINCOLN - Home District, 1788-1798; Niagara District, 1798-1850.

MIDDLESEX - Western District, 1788-1798; London District, 1798-1850; Brock District, 1838-1850; Huron District, 1838-1850.

MUSKOKA - Formed from unorganized territories, 1868.

NIPISSING - Formed from unorganized territories, 1856.

NORFOLK - Western District, 1788-1798; London District, 1798-1837; Talbot District, 1837-1850.

NORTHUMBERLAND - Home District, 1788-1802; Midland District, 1788-1798; Newcastle District, 1802-1850.

ONTARIO - Formed from York County, 1850. District: Home, 1788-1850. NOTE: The name Ontario County was also used as to for the islands at the eastern end of Lake Ontario, 1792-1798.

OXFORD - Western District, 1788-98; London District, 1798-1837; Brock District, 1837-1850.

PARRY SOUND - Formed from unorganized territories, 1870.

PEEL - Formed from York Co., 1851. Districts: Western, 1788-1798 and Home, 1788-1850.

PERTH - Formed from Huron County, 1849. Districts: Western, 1788-1798; unorganized territories, 1798-1798; Huron, 1836-1850.

PETERBOROUGH - Home District, 1788-1802; Newcastle District, 1802-1837; Colbourne District, 1837-1850.

PRESCOTT - Eastern District, 1788-1816; Ottawa District, 1816-1850.

PRINCE EDWARD - Midland District, 1788-1831; Prince Edward District, 1831-1850.

RENFREW - Home District, 1788-1798; Midland District, 1788-1831; Eastern District, 1788-1822; Bathurst District, 1822-1850.

RUSSELL - Eastern District, 1788-1816; Ottawa District, 1816-1850.

SIMCOE - Home District, 1788-1837; Western District, 1788-1798; Simcoe District, 1837-1850.

STORMONT - Eastern District, 1788-1850.

VICTORIA - Formed from Peterborough County, 1851. Districts: Home, 1788-1802; Newcastle, 1802-1845; Colbourne, 1827-1850.

WATERLOO - Western District, 1788-1798; Home District, 1798-1816; Gore District, 1816-1850; Wellington District, 1837-1850.

WELLAND - Home District, 1788-1798; Niagara District, 1798-1850.

WELLINGTON - Western District, 1788-1798; Home District, 1798-1821; Gore District, 1816-1837; Wellington District, 1837-1850.

WENTWORTH - Home District, 1788-1816; Western District, 1788-1798; Niagara District, 1798-1816; Gore District, 1816-1850.

YORK - Home District, 1788-1850.

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