Cedar Grove is a community in the Township (now City) of Markham, Ontario on the Little Rouge River. It is centred around 14th Avenue and Reesor Road (10th Line) and within the boundaries of the future national Rouge Park.
James Osborne of North Carolina, with wife and children, first settled in the Cedar Grove area in the late eighteenth century. In 1804 Mennonite settlers from Pennsylvania (sometimes called the Pennsylvania Dutch) arrived in Cedar Grove, headed by Peter Reesor, who first scouted the area for his community in the 1790s. Reesor bought the Osborne lot (lot 4, concession 9) and performed the settlement duties for the original grantee in 1804; he then acquired lot 5 in 1805. The stone house on the Reesor homestead was built in 1832.
By 1820, John Eby Reesor helped to construct a log building at the corner of Steeles Ave. and 11th Line to serve as both a school and a church, for Mennonites and Presbyterians. About 1850, a frame school building was constructed on the north side of 14th Ave., east of 10th Line to accommodate the growing community. In 1869, this building was replaced by a red brick school across the south side of 14th Ave. "Cedar Grove school was unique ... in having a gallery where in winter any adult could come and get a bit of learning by listening to the classes below."
By 1878 the hamlet also had four mills, a post office and general store, tavern and inn, and blacksmith shop (now relocated to the Markham Museum and Historical Village). A Mennonite Meeting House was built on lot 4, concession 9 in 1867, although the grounds were used as a cemetery as early as 1824. The Zion Presbyterian Church constructed a frame-building on the 11th Line near Steeles in 1856, which was replaced by a stone building in 1890.
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