Upper Canada Chronology

This list of events was compiled from a variety of on-line and print publications* to help you place your ancestors' lives in historical context and understand the events that might have an important bearing on the success of your research. Where exact dates are known, these have been provided.

Pre-1791     1792-1800     1801-1810     1811-1820     1821-1830     1831-1842


The area now known as southern Ontario is considered part of the French Colony of New France; very few Europeans in territory, mostly fur trading posts and military forts

1670 Charles II (British King) grants the Hudson's Bay Company control over what is now Northern Ontario, known then as Rupert's Land

1673 The French establish the first permanent European settlement on the Great Lakes, Fort Cataraqui (later becomes Kingston)

1749 French Canadian farmers establish the first permanent European agricultural settlement at present-day Windsor

1763, 10 February. Treaty of Paris ends the Seven Years War (between France and Britain); New France (including present-day Ontario) is ceded by France to Great Britain; Present-day Ontario becomes known as the Western part of the Montreal District of the Province of Quebec

1775-1783 American Revolutionary War

1780 The first post office in Ontario is opened at Kingston. The first United Empire Loyalist refugees, consisting of men who had served in Butler's Rangers (and their families) begin to settle in the Niagara Peninsula.

1783, 3 September. American Revolutionary War ends; Royal instructions allow land grants to American loyalists; Heads of families receive 100 acres, members of families 50 acres each, single men 50 acres, and non-commissioned officers 200 acres; the first United Empire Loyalists (UELs) begin to arrive in Quebec and Nova Scotia

1783 Townships in present-day Ontario begin to be surveyed for settlement by United Empire Loyalists

1784 United Empire Loyalists begin settling along the St. Lawrence River and the Bay of Quinte

1784 Population of present-day Ontario estimated at 6,000

1785 Rev. John Stuart opens the first school in Ontario, at Kingston

1786 Guy Carleton (later to become Lord Dorchester) becomes the Governor of British North America

1786 The first Methodist minister in Ontario, George Neal, begins to preach in the Niagara area.

1787, 23 September. The site of Toronto is purchased from the Mississauga Indians

1787, 27 December. The first stage coach service in Ontario is established between Queenston and Fort Erie

1787 Severe winter, drought and crop failures across the province lead to famine in Upper Canada/Ontario in the following year; this is made worse by the loss of government provisions which were provided to all Loyalists in the previous three winters

1788, 24 July. Lord Dorchester divides present-day Ontario into four new administrative districts (and land boards) cut out of the district of Montreal: Hesse, Nassau, Mecklenburg, and Lunenburg. A judge and a sheriff are appointed for each district

1789, 9 November. Lord Dorchester creates (by order-in-council) a Mark of Honour for the Loyalists (UE, Unity of Empire) and establishes special privileges for Loyalist settlers (every son of a loyalist receives 200 acres, every daughter 200 acres when married)

1790 Active congregations are established in the original Loyalist settlement areas; Anglican, Catholic, Presbyterian and Lutheran and traveling preachers or missionaries are serving smaller denominations and more isolated communities

1791, 19 June. Canada (constitutional) Act; Quebec is divided into Upper and Lower Canada with Upper Canada (now Ontario) containing all that land lying west of the Ottawa River, and Lower Canada (now Quebec) containing all the land lying east

1791 Population of Upper Canada estimated at 10,000

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Pre-1791     1792-1800     1801-1810     1811-1820     1821-1830     1831-1842


1792, 15 October. John Graves Simcoe becomes the first Lieutenant Governor of Upper Canada; the first meetings of the Executive Council and Legislative Assembly are held at the capital, Newark (now Niagara-on-the-lake); The four original district names are changed: Hesse becomes the Western District; Lunenburg becomes the Eastern district; Mecklenburg becomes the Midland district and Nassau becomes the Home District; Counties are created; English Civil Law is established (including trial by jury) and English weights and measures are adopted

1793, 18 April. The first issue of the Upper Canada Gazette is published at Newark by Louis Roy

1793, 27 August. Simcoe establishes what was intended to be the first permanent capital of Upper Canada at Toronto, which was then renamed York

1793, 28 September. Act of the Upper Canada legislature states that all slave children born in Upper Canada after this time will be free at the age of 25

1793 Marriage Act: the right to perform marriage is extended to magistrates (justices of the peace) in addition to the exclusive privileges of Catholic and Anglican clergy; “regularization” of existing unions

1793 Provincial Court of Probate and District Surrogate Courts are established

1794 Able Stevens brings 200 Baptists from Vermont to settle in Kitley and Bastard townships (Leeds County)

1794 William Berczy brings German colonists from New York to Markham Township (York County)

1794 Samuel Stafford of Saratoga Springs, New York, attracts 24 people to Marlborough, Montague, Oxford and Wolford townships (along the Rideau River); by 1803 they number 408

1794, 19 November. Jay's Treaty between Great Britain and the United States provides for the transfer of the Old Northwest, administrated from Upper Canada by 1 June 1796 and requires the ceding of British forts Detroit and Michilimackinac to the United States

1795 Land registry system is established in counties

1796 Jay's Treaty takes effect regarding boundary with U.S.; British withdrawal from Detroit and Michilimackinac

1796, 1 February. The capital of Upper Canada is transferred from Niagara to York

1796, 20 February. Yonge street is opened from York to Pine Fort Landing (on Lake Simcoe), 34 miles

1798, 7 October. Forty-four refugees from the French Revolution are given land in Uxbridge, Gwillimbury and Whitchurch Townships (York County)

1798 Complete territorial redistribution, several new districts are created and old ones redefined: the Johnstown district is created out of the Eastern District; the London District is created out of the Home and Western Districts; the Newcastle District is created out of the Home District; the Niagara District is created out of the Home District

1798 New Marriage Act extends the right to perform marriages to Presbyterians, Calvinists and Lutherans

1799 Peter Hunter becomes Lieutenant-Governor

1800 The districts are divided into counties and the boundaries of the various divisions (townships, counties and districts) are regularized so that each township is contained in a single county and each county in a single district

1800, June. Timothy Rogers obtains an 8000-acre grant of land for a Quaker settlement in York County (King and Whitchurch Townships)

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Pre-1791     1792-1800     1801-1810     1811-1820     1821-1830     1831-1842


1802 First issue of The York Gazette appears

1803 Colonel Thomas Talbot is granted 48500 acres for settlement on the north shores of Lake Erie (south of London)

1803, 5 November. A weekly public market is established at York

1804 Lord Selkirk's short-lived Baldoon settlement

1805 German Company settles in Waterloo County

1806 Frances Gore becomes Lieutenant-Governor

1807 Legislation establishes a grammar school in each district

1807, 1 June. First public school in York is opened by Dr. George Okill Stuart

1807, 22 December. Embargo Act, President Thomas Jefferson of the U.S. suspends Canada-US trade

1808 The Militia Act states that all males between ages of sixteen and sixty are required to enroll as militiamen and are to be called out once a year for exercises

1809, 15 March. Embargo Act repeal into force; Trade resumes between Canada and the U.S.

1810 The Kingston Gazette is published for the first time

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Pre-1791     1792-1800     1801-1810     1811-1820     1821-1830     1831-1842


1811 Population of Upper Canada estimated at 77,000

1812, 18 June. United States declares war on Great Britain; The town of York (present day Toronto) is burned; Newark (Niagara) is also burned; Many records are lost

1814 Battle of Lundy's Lane ends in a draw with the heaviest casualties of the war

1814, 24 December. Treaty of Ghent ends war of 1812; Britain gives up captured Fort Niagara, Michilimackinac, Prairie de Chien and part of Maine; U.S. returns Sandwich and Fort Malden

1815 A large number of Scottish immigrants settle in Lanark County; The majority of Selkirk settlers at Red River leave for Upper Canada (due to conflict with the Metis) and arrive at Holland Landing Sept 5

1815 British and American Methodist Societies become active in Upper Canada.

1816 The Gore district is created out of the York and Niagara Districts; the Ottawa district is created out of the Eastern District

1816, 7 September. The first steamship on Lake Ontario, the Frontenac, is launched at Bath, near Kingston

1817 First regular stage coach lines begin to operate between Kingston and York

1818 Peregrine Maitland becomes Lieutenant-Governor

1819 Legislation authorizes grants to 1812 war veterans

1819 John Gilchrist of Hamilton becomes the first legally licenced doctor in Upper Canada

1819 Post-war depression hits British North America and the United States

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Pre-1791     1792-1800     1801-1810     1811-1820     1821-1830     1831-1842


1821 The Bathurst District is created out of the Johnstown District; the Simcoe District is created out of the Midland District

1823 Peter Robinson emigrants from Ireland begin to settle in Lanark and Peterborough counties

1824 The Canada (land) Company is incorporated to colonize the Huron tract and Crown Reserve lands

1824 Controversy rages over equal status of the Church of England (Anglican) and the Scottish Kirk (Presbyterian)

1824, 18 May. William Lyon Mackenzie publishes the first issue of The Colonial Advocate at Queenston. In November the paper is moved to York

1824 Population of Upper Canada estimated at 150,000

1826, 26 September. Bytown is founded by Colonel John By (becomes Ottawa in 1855)

1826 London founded

1826 The Canada Company buys 1,100,000 acres of Crown Reserve land, becomes known as the Huron Tract.

1827 Free land grants are stopped to all but military and Loyalist claimants; sale of Clergy Reserve lands is permitted; open land market begins

1827 King's College is founded (later becomes the University of Toronto)

1827 Guelph is founded

1827 Population of Upper Canada estimated at 177,000

1828 John Colborne becomes Lieutenant-Governor

1828 Removal of British garrison on Drummond Island to Penetanguishene; Naturalization Registers begin

1828, 7 November. Militia officers of each regiment are instructed to submit a nominal roll of the men in their units from 19 to 39 years of age (most of these rolls survive)

1829, 21 November. Adolphus Egerton Ryerson publishes the first issue of The Christian Guardian, the organ of the Methodist Church and forerunner of The United Church Observer

1829 The road from Detroit River to York is completed under administration of Colonel Thomas Talbot (300 miles)

1830, 4 January. Upper Canada College opens

1830 Population of Upper Canada estimated at 213,000

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Pre-1791     1792-1800     1801-1810     1811-1820     1821-1830     1831-1842


1831 The Prince Edward district is created out of Midland District

1831, 7 January. Upper Canada government extends the right to perform marriages to Baptists, Congregationalists, Independents, Methodists, Mennonites, Dunkers and Moravians; District Marriage Registers begin to record them

1831 The Cobourg Star is founded (the oldest weekly newspaper in Canada)

1831 Population of Upper Canada estimated at 237,000

1832, 16 June through late September. Epidemic of cholera across entire province starting at Prescott and spreading westwards; Strachan estimates 1000 cases in York alone with 400 dying; At least 550 die across the province

1832, 16 November. Great fire of Hamilton destroys business centre

1832 Peak year for immigration (66,000 arrive in this year)

1833, 13 February. Hamilton becomes the first incorporated city in Ontario

1833 The Royal William becomes the first steamship to cross the Atlantic - The Royal William

1833 Population of Upper Canada estimated at 296,000

1834, 6 March. The City of Toronto is incorporated

1834, March. The first railway in Upper Canada, the London and Gore Railroad (later Great Western) is incorporated

1834, mid-July to mid-September. Epidemic of cholera across entire province

1836 Francis Bond Head becomes Lieutenant-Governor

1836 College of Physicians and Surgeons of Upper Canada is formed

1836 Catherine Parr Traill publishes The Backwoods of Canada

1836 Population of Upper Canada estimated at 374,000

1837 The Brock District is created out of the London District; the Talbot District is created out of the London District; the Victoria District is created out of the Midland District

1837 Economic depression hits lowest point

1837-38 Rebellion in Upper and Lower Canada; American invasions

1838 George Arthur becomes Lieutenant-Governor

1838 Anna Jamieson publishes Winter Studies and Summer Rambles in Canada

1838 The Huron District is created out of the London District; the Wellington District is created out of the Gore and Home districts; the Colborne District is created out of the Newcastle District; the Dalhousie District is created out of the Bathurst, Johnstown and Ottawa Districts

1839 Charles Poulett Thomson (Lord Sydenham) becomes Lieutenant-Governor

1839 The Anglican Diocese of Toronto is formed; John Strachan is first bishop

1839 Population of Upper Canada estimated at 409,000

1840 George Arthur becomes Lieutenant-Governor

1841, 10 February. Act of Union; Upper and Lower Canada become Canada West and East with an elected Assembly; District Councils are established to replace Courts of Quarter Sessions for administrative purposes

1842 Population of Canada West estimated at 487,000

*Sources: "A Chronology of Ontario" by Rick Roberts (globalgazette.net/List001/list43.htm), "The Fitzhenry & Whiteside book of Canadian Facts and Dates" by Jay Myers (1991), "History of Ontario" by Lorine McGinnis Schulze (olivetreegenealogy.com/can/ont/hist.shtml, 1996), "Handbook of Upper Canadian Chronology" by Frederick Henry Armstrong (1967), "Redcoats and Loyalists 1760/1815" by Leslie Hannon (1978), "Days of the Rebels 1815/1840" by Margaret Eleanor Atwood (1977), "Starting Your Genealogy" Ontario GenWeb (www.rootsweb.com/~canon/begin.html), and "Local History (up to 1900)" by Madeleine Malott (www.lsol.com/visitkingsville/history.htm, 1999).


Upper Canada Genealogy © 2001-2009   Last Updated 12 October 2005