Peterborough County Genealogy

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   The area is well served historically, partly because of the remarkable Strickland family.  Samuel Strickland and two of his five sisters, Catharine Parr Traill and Susanna Moodie, settled in the area and wrote about their experiences.  (Another sister, Agnes, stayed in England and wrote highly regarded histories of British Queens.)
      Moodie, Susanna - Roughing It in the Bush - (1852)
      Moodie, Susanna - Life in the Clearings - (1853)
      Strickland, Samuel - Twenty-Seven Years in Canada West - (1853)
      Traill, CP - The Backwoods of Canada, being letters from the wife of an emigrant officer (London, 1836)

   Edwin C Guillet, descendant of pioneers of the area wrote numerous books of interest.
      Guillet, Edwin C (ed) - The Valley of the Trent - UofT Press (1957)
      Guillet, Edwin C - The Pioneer Farmer and Backwoodsman - UofT Press (1963) Two volumes

   Another excellent history of the early days is:
      Poole, Dr TW - The Early Settlement of Peterborough County - (1867, reprinted 1941 and 1967)

   In the 1870's, atlases of many Ontario counties were published, giving histories of the early settlers and indicating who was then on each farm.  Peterborough County was not one of them, but in 1975 the Peterborough County Historical Society and the Peterborough Centennial Museum Board created an 1875 Atlas:
      Illustrated Historical Atlas of Peterborough County 1825-1875 - Peterborough Historical Atlas Foundation Inc (1975)

   There are many other books of interest, such as:
      Peterborough, Land of Shining Waters
      Peterborough Past and Present
      Portraits: Peterborough Area Women Past and Present

Useful Dates

The area is occupied by Hurons.

Mohawks (one of the Six Nations of the Iroquois) defeat the Hurons and occupy the area.

Mississagas (one of the Algonkin people) move in from Georgian Bay and gradually displace the Mohawks. There are many bloody battles, particularly around what are now Lakefield, Peterborough, and Rice Lake.

1615 Sep - The first white man visits the area, Samuel de Champlain, as part of a Huron raiding party against the Iroquois.

1788 Jul 24 - What is now Ontario (but at that time part of Quebec) is divided into four districts (Lunenburg, Mecklenburg, Nassau, and Hesse). The Peterborough area is in Nassau District (the area between lines running due north from the mouth of the Trent River and the tip of Long Point on Lake Erie).

1791 - Quebec divided into Upper and Lower Canada. The Peterborough area is in Upper Canada.

1792 Oct 15 - The four districts are re-named respectively Eastern, Midland, Home, and Western. The Peterborough area is in Home District. (32 Geo III c.8)

1798 - Legislation allowing the creation of Newcastle District, which includes Peterborough area, when population reaches 1000. (38 Geo III c.5).

1802 Jun 23 - District of Newcastle proclaimed.

1818 - Indian treaty (#20) gives Europeans access to the Peterborough area.

1818 - First township surveyed (North Monaghan and Smith).

1818 - First legal European settler (in North Monaghan and Smith Twps)

1834 Mar 6 - Townships not previously part of counties attached to counties. Ennismore, Harvey, Douro, Dummer, Belmont, Burleigh, and Methuen attached to Northumberland County. Verulam, Fenlon, and Eldon attached to Durham County. (4 Wm IV c.15)

1838 Apr 20 - Proclamation of Chap CXV, 7 William IV c.115 which created the District of Colborne from part of the District of Newcastle. The new district consisted of "... the Townships of Belmont, Methuen, Burleigh, Dummer, Asphodel, Otanabee (note spelling), Douro, Smith, Ennismore, Harvey, Verulam, Emily, Ops, Fenlon, Mariposa, Eldon, Bexley, Somerville, and the seven rear Concessions of Monaghan, together with the unsurveyed lands in rear thereof, and the Islands lying wholly or in greater part opposite thereto ... ". The Act also stated that "... all the Townships and territory comprised within the limits of the said intended district shall form and be called the County of Peterborough, in the District of Colborne." The administrative unit was the District. A County was a political unit also used for land registry purposes until 1849 when Districts were abolished and Counties took over their administrative functions.

The Economic Atlas of Ontario (Plate 98) says that the townships of Asphodel, North Monaghan, Otonabee, and Smith stayed in Newcastle District until 1845.

1841 - Act of Union. The two colonies of Upper and Lower Canada become one colony with two sections, Canada East (the former Lower Canada, now Quebec) and Canada West (the former Upper Canada, now Ontario)

1841 - The North Riding of the County of Northumberland shall consist of Monaghan, Otonabee, Asphodel, Smith, Douro, Dummer, Belmont, Methuen, Burleigh, Harvey, Emily, Gore, Ennismore. (Statutes of Canada 1841 Chap 35)

1841 - District of Colborne created consisting of the Townships of Belmont, Methuen, Burleigh, Dummer, Asphodel, Otonabee, Douro, Smith, Ennismore, Harvey, Verulam, Emily, Ops, Fenelon, Mariposa, Eldon, Bexley, Somerville, and the seven rear concessions of Monaghan Twp plus the unsurveyed lands in rear thereof.

1841 Oct 14 - The effective starting date for both Peterborough Co and Colborne Dist.

1845 - The District of Colborne to consist of the County of Peterborough (8 Victoria Cap 7)

1845 - Twp of North Monaghan named (before that it was Monaghan). The townships of Asphodel, North Monaghan, Otonabee, and Smith moved from Newcastle District to Colborne District (according to the Economic Atlas of Ontario).

1849 May 30 Districts abolished by the Baldwin Act (12 Vic c.78). The County of Peterborough takes over from the District of Colborne. This county included present Victoria Co and parts of present Haliburton Co.

1849 May 30 - Municipal government changed. Town of Peterborough created. (12 Vic c.81)

1851 - The County of Peterborough shall consist of the Townships of Belmont, Methuen, Burleigh, Dummer, Harvey, Douro, Smith, North Monaghan, Asphodel, Ennismore, and Otonabee. (14&15 Vic Cap 5 p1798)

1851 - Peterborough Co re-named United Counties of Peterborough and Victoria.

1856 Jul 1 - Victoria County separated from Peterborough County (Statutes of Canada 1856 Cap 95 p361). It seems it did not happen for another act was assented 1861 May 18 (Statutes of Canada 1861 Cap 50 p 104) and an act confirming the separation was assented 1863 May 5 (Statutes of Canada 1863 Cap 10 p24)

1858 Jun 30 - New townships of Snowdon, Minden, Stanhope, Guilford, Dysart, Glamorgan, Monmouth, Dudley, Harburn, Bruton, Harcourt, Cardiff, and Chandos attached to Peterborough County (Cap 14)

1858 - The village of Ashburnham created from parts of Otonabee and Douro Twps.

1860 Jan 1 - Town of Peterborough removed from County administration.

1863 - Victoria becomes a separate county.

1867 Jul 1 - The Dominion of Canada formed. Canada West becomes the Province of Ontario.

1874 - The village of Lakefield created from parts of Smith and Douro Twps.

1874 Mar 24 - Provisional County of Haliburton created from parts of Peterborough, Victoria, and Nipissing. (37 Vic Cap 65 p 469)

1877 - The village of Norwood created from part of Asphodel Twp.

1892 - The village of Havelock created.

1974 - South Managhan Twp moved from Northumberland Co to Peterbrough Co, and Cavan Twp moved from Durham Co to Peterbrough Co.