Ancaster is a "small urban community" located in the former Ancaster Township in Wentworth County in southern Ontario. Ancaster Township remained a municpality throughout the existence of the Regional Municipality of Hamilton-Wentworth (1974-2001) and is now a part of the new City of Hamilton.
Ancaster is a picturesque and historic community located on the Niagara Escarpment, within the greater area of the city of Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. This former town was founded officially in 1793 and was one of the oldest European communities established in present day Ontario along with Windsor (1749), Kingston (1780), St. Catharines (1787–89), Grimsby (1790), Niagara-on-the-Lake (1792) and Toronto (1793).
By 1823, due in large part to its easily accessible water power located at the juncture of already existing historical trading routes, Ancaster had become Upper Canada's largest industrial and commercial center. At that time, it also had the largest population in Upper Canada with 1,681 townspeople surpassing both Toronto's 1,376 and Hamilton's 1,000 residents. After this initial period of prosperity beginning in the late 18th century, sudden significant water and rail transportation advancements of the early 19th century would soon better benefit Ancaster's neighbouring towns situated closer to the Lake Ontario waterfront. Stationary steam engines for industries were also being rapidly developed in the 19th century that would eventually make Ancaster's water powered industries less vital. As a result, after the 1820s, Ancaster's influence during the remainder of the 19th century would begin to wane.
From the late 19th century Ancaster's population would remain static until 1946 when new subdivisions around the village were established. The population expanded further with the completion of the Hamilton-Ancaster section of Highway 403 in 1968 and the introduction of sewer systems in 1974. After 1970, its population essentially doubled from 15,000 residents to its present-day 33,000. Today, Ancaster's primary points of interest are its historical village core, its abundant recreational walking trails and its unique variety of restaurants, pubs and shops.
For more information, see the EN Wikipedia article Ancaster, Ontario.
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 1914 are now available [October 2012]; 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. All of the original census (1851-1911) images are online with the exception of that for 1861. Not all of them are indexed. Later censuses are not yet available. Census divisions were redrawn as the population increased and more land was inhabited.
E-books and Books
Some websites with more local information on Wentworth County