The map of Brant County circa 1951 from Ontario Archives locates the communities and physical features of the county. (Click at the bottom of the page to see the map enlarged.)
A sketchmap from Ontario GenWeb gives a more visible outline of the townships.
Brant County is located in southwestern Ontario. It was established as a county in 1851, originally from townships in Wentworth, and Oxford Counties. South Dumfries Township was taken from Waterloo County within a year or two. The county town is Brantford.
The county was named for Joseph Brant, a Mohawk Chief who fought for the British during the American Revolution. In 1784 he led his people from New York State to the valley of the Grand River where they had been granted land for their loyalty during the war. The land grant covered six miles on each side of the river. This grant covered the Grand River not only in its course through Brant County but also through Haldimand, Oxford and Wellington Counties as well.
Immediately prior to being established, the lands which made up Brant County were under the administration of the Gore District of Upper Canada and Canada West. Its townships had previously been located in Wentworth, Oxford and Waterloo Counties. The six townships of Brant County are
In 1999, the county was reorganized and all its individual municipalities, except Brantford and Paris, were amalgamated into a single-tier municipality with city status. The City of Brantford and the Town of Paris remain independently incorporated municipalities outside of the government of the county.
For more information, see the EN Wikipedia article Brant, Ontario. This includes further descriptions of the original townships.
NOTE: Prior to 1850 Canada West and Upper Canada, the predecessors to Ontario, were divided up into Districts. The counties did exist but they had no place in the administrative structure. Brant was put together immediately after the District system ended. The townships that made it came from different counties in different districts.
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
Brant County additional sources