Courtice (pronounced "Court-iss") is a community located in Ontario, Canada, about sixty kilometers east of Toronto, adjacent to Oshawa and west of Bowmanville in the Municipality of Clarington. Courtice Road (Durham Road 34) connects with Highway 401 at Interchange 425, providing arterial access to the community. Darlington Provincial Park is located just south of Courtice.
The area was first settled in 1795 by the James and the Trulls families. Courtice, however, takes its name from another one of the early families who settled the area. Thomas Courtice arrived in Darlington Township in 1831, followed by his brothers Christopher and James in 1833. The family emigrated from Putford Bridge, Devonshire, England. The community was centred on the Ebenezer Church/Schoolhouse which was erected in the 1850s. For a while the growing settlement was called "Ebenezer", and as it grew it would eventually encompass another hamlet called "Short's Corners". Short's Corners was located at King St. E (Highway 2) and Courtice Rd. George Short owned the blacksmith shop there where today Roy Nichols Motors sits. This became downtown Courtice. Across the street on the north side of Highway 2 was where A.F. Rundles' Market was built in 1860. Beside it on the east was James Courtice's carpenter shop, built in 1874; and on the west was the Post office run by John Walter in 1908. Just west of the Post office was the old Methodist Church. All of these buildings were torn down when Highway 2 was widened in 1988. The present NW corner of Courtice Rd. and Highway 2, where a townhouse complex sits, is where the Courtice Cheese factory and shop was located. Across the street at the present day auto body shop there used to be a wagon maker's shop.
Just to the west of Courtice was a neighbouring hamlet called Prestonvale (today part of Courtice). It was once called Black's Hill and in 1825 was the site of the first post office in Darlington Township located just east of today's Preston Pub. The postmaster was none other than Colonel James Black, the originator of the name. It was also later called Tooley's Hill after Augustus Tooley who ran the grist mill at Kingston Road where Farewell Creek crosses underneath Highway 2. Today this is the present location across the road from the Tim Horton's. The children of Prestonvale went to a school (Section #8) called Mount Carswell located on the north side of Concession 3 (now Nash Rd), just west of Trulls Rd on James Reynolds' farmstead. Alf Wilborn ran the blacksmith shop at the corner of Kingston Rd. and Prestonvale Rd. A sawmill existed on the north side of Nash Rd. just to the east of Farewell Creek, where you can see an old bridge just to the north of the present day bridge. This property was the farmstead of William Scott. Across the street from the school was the Temperance Hall located on A.V. Scott's property.
A post office with the name "Courtice" was finally established in the mid 19th century, and rail connections became available on both the Canadian Pacific and Grand Trunk main lines which passed south of the village closer to Lake Ontario. Courtice remained primarily a small rural village well into the 20th century, but housing developments beginning in the mid-1980s caused the community to grow rapidly. In 1988 Highway 2 was widened from its 2 lanes to its present 5 lanes. By the mid-1990s growth had slowed somewhat, although new housing developments are continuing and the area remains popular due to relatively low prices. Housing is primarily single-family detached residential, and most residents travel to Toronto or points west in Durham Region for employment. Commercial development is centred along Highway 2, with particular concentrations at the intersections with Townline Road (at the boundary with Oshawa) and Courtice Road.
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 Durham County