By Rebecca Murray
Reference Services frequently receives requests about land patents in Canada. In this post, I will focus on post-Confederation land documents. You can also read the Crown land patents: Indian land sales post and my previous post on Pre-Confederation Land Patents issued by the Registrar General.
What is a Land Patent?
The Crown issues Land Patents to grant or confirm title to a portion of land. They represent the first title to land, and serve as proof that the land no longer belongs to the Crown.
How do I find a Land Patent?
The search for a Post-Confederation Land Patent is much more challenging than one for a Pre-Confederation Land Patent. You can only conduct it in person on site or by sending a request to Reference Services. This post will help you to identify the indices that you will need to consult to find a land patent for the 1867–1977 period.
If you are not able to research on site, please prepare a request for Reference Services by providing us with the three pieces of information required in Step 1, and references to the corresponding Key to the General Index and General Index (Step 2). This will help us to triage and respond to your request more effectively.
Step 1: As with pre-Confederation patents, please start with the following information: a date, a location, a person or organization (patentee).
- Date (specific or general): November 4, 1925
- Location (detailed or general): Toronto
- Patentee: Toronto Harbour Commissioners
It is best to use all three pieces of information (especially the date), since this will expedite the search process.
Step 2: Consult the Key to the General Index for the date in question
Here are the complete references you will need to find the Key to the General Index for 1867–1947:
- 1867–1908 (reel M-1630, RG68 volume 899, part 1)
- 1908–1918 (reel M-1632, RG68 volume 899, part 2)
- 1920–1929 (reel M-1634, RG68 volume 902, part 1)
- 1930–1939 (reel M-1635, RG68 volume 902, part 2)
- 1940–1947 (reel M-1636, RG68 volume 902, part 3)
Using our example above, consult RG68 volume 902, “Key to the General Index,” 1919–1929, available on microfilm reel M-1634.
Please note that for the post-Confederation period, the key is in rough alphabetical order, so it is important to review the entire section (in our example, all entries for “T”) before proceeding to the General Index.
Find the patentee in question and copy down each pair of numbers next to the name, as they will allow you to locate the relevant entries in the corresponding General Index. The pair of numbers is associated with two columns: the “No.” column indicating “line,” and the “Folio” column indicating “page.” This allows you to jump directly to the correct page of the corresponding General Index and locate the relevant entry. From this entry, you have more information, namely the liber (register) and folio (page) numbers necessary to locate the patent itself.
Here are the complete references you will need to find the General Index for the period 1867–1947:
- 1867–1908 (reel M-1631, RG68 volume 900)
- 1908–1918 (reel M-1633, RG68 volume 901)
- 1919–1929 (reel M-1634, RG68 volume 903)
- 1930–1939 (reel M-1635, RG68 volume 904)
- 1940–1947 (reel M-1636, RG68 volume 905)
Using our example, the corresponding General Index is available on microfilm reel M-1634.
The General Index tells us that the patent is in liber 298 on page 338.
Step 3: Find the complete reference
When on site at 395 Wellington Street, use finding aid 68-2 to look up the liber number and find the complete reference for the patent, including the corresponding microfilm reel number. If you need assistance while working on this request, please speak to our Reference Services team at the 2nd floor Orientation Desk.
Microfilm reels are available for self-serve consultation in room 354.
To successfully conclude our example: The complete reference for the patent is RG68 volume 658, liber 298 “Lands – Surrenders to the Crown,” 1915–1925. This volume is available on digitized microfilm reel C-4083. The first page of the document is shown below.
Your research may require access to indices for Indian and Ordnance Land Patents, which are available on microfilm reels M-1011 and M-3693 for the 1867–1960 period. Please note that Indian land patents for the 1886–1951 period are part of the Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development fonds (RG10), and as such are organized separately in the Land Patents series.
For post-1947 land documents in the Registrar General fonds, please consult the corresponding General Index:
- 1948–1954 (reel M-1637, RG68 volume 906)
- 1955–1965 (reel M-1641, RG68 volume 907)
- 1958–1964 (reel M-1642, RG68 volume 908)
- 1954–1965 (reel M-5917, RG68 volume 908)
- 1955–1967 (reel M-5918, RG68 volume 908)
- 1967–1970 (reel M-5919, RG68 volume 908)
- 1970–1973 (reel M-5920, RG68 volume 908)
- 1973–1975 (reel M-5921, RG68 volume 908)
- 1967–1977 (reel M-5922, RG68 volume 908)
Navigating this type of research can be very challenging, so please contact us if you need any assistance!
Rebecca Murray is a Reference Archivist in Reference Services at Library and Archives Canada.