Amherstburg (2011 population 21,556) is a Canadian town near the mouth of the Detroit River in Essex County, Ontario. It is approximately 25 kilometres (16 mi) south of the U.S. city of Detroit, Michigan.
In 1998 the Town of Amherstburg was amalgamated with the Townships of Anderdon and Malden as part of the restructuring of municipalities that occurred across Ontario. The enlarged municipality continued to be called the Town of Amherstburg.
The map of Essex County circa 1951 from Ontario Archives locates the individual townships, city, towns and villages of the county. (Click at the bottom of the page to see the map enlarged.)
A sketchmap from Ontario GenWeb provides a simple illustration of the location of the former townships.
This is a sketchmap from Wikipedia illustrating the new subdivisions of Essex County.
Across the Detroit River from what developed as the state of Michigan in the United States, the town was permanently established in 1796 as a British military fort. Fort Malden was occupied as a garrison. The town was developed by Loyalists who were granted land by the Crown in Ontario after the British lost the American Revolutionary War. They built many of their houses in the French style of a century before, giving the new town an historic character.
During the days of the Underground Railroad before the American Civil War, fugitive African-American slaves often crossed the river to escape to freedom in Canada, after slavery was abolished there. They used Fort Malden as an entry point.
By 1869, the town of Amherstburg in the Township of Maiden County Essex had a population of 2,500. Fort Malden was adapted for use as a Lunatic Asylum. Its main building was later used as a Port of Entry Money Order office and Post Office savings bank. Amherstburg was incorporated as a town in 1878.
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
Some websites with more local information on Essex County