Algoma was created by proclamation in 1858 as a provisional judicial district of the Province of Canada comprising territory north of the French River as far west as Pigeon River (Minnesota-Ontario), including all Canadian islands in Lakes Huron and Superior. The authorizing act of the Legislative Assembly of the Province of Canada was An Act to provide for the Administration of Justice in the unorganized Tracts of Country within the limits of this Province (known by its short title as The Temporary Judicial Districts Act, 1857).
As the population grew and the northern and northwestern boundaries of Ontario were determined by the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council, Algoma shrunk. Other districts were created from it by the provincial government of Ontario:
There are a total of 440 townships in Algoma District. http://www.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~canon/research-area-algoma.html Ontario GenWeb] supplies a complete list together with a map and modern alterations. The Archives of Ontario do not supply a map of Rainy River District circa 1951. Their map of all the northern districts in 1927 may be helpful.
The primary source for basic documents (vital statistics, land records, wills) for people who lived in the Province of Ontario is the Archives of Ontario, 134 Ian Macdonald Blvd, Toronto, Ontario, Canada M7A 2C5.
Civil registration did not begin in the province until 1869. Before then there may be church records of baptisms and burials. For the most part these are still held by the denomination who recorded them. Copies of marriage records made pre-1869 had to be sent by individual clergymen to the registrar of the county in which the marriage took place. These marriage records are available through Ontario Archives, on micorfilm through LDS libraries, and on paid and unpaid websites, but because they were copied at the registrars' offices, they cannot be considered a primary source.
Vital Records after 1869
Birth, marriage and death registrations are not open to the public until a specific number of years after the event occurred. Births to 1915 are now available [October 2014]; dates for marriages and deaths are later. Birth and death registration was not universally carried out in the early years after its adoption. Deaths were more apt to be reported than births for several years. The more rural the area, the less likely it would be that these happenings were reported to the authorities.
Land Records and Wills
Information on how to access land records and wills is best sought on the Archives of Ontario website. An ancestor's land holding might be found on Canadian County Atlas Digital Project if he was in occupancy circa 1878.
Association for the Preservation of Ontario Land Registry Office Documents (APOLROD). A list of Land Registry Offices for all Counties of Ontario.
The original censuses are in the hands of Library and Archives Canada, known to Canadians as "LAC". Copies of original microfilms are online at the LAC website for all censuses up to 1911. Each census database is preceded with an explanation of the geographical area covered, the amount of material retained (some census division material has been lost), the questions on the census form, and whether there is a name index. Census divisions were redrawn as the population increased and more land was inhabited. The 1921 census is only available through Ancestry.ca, but it is free-to-view.
E-books and Books