Dresden is a "small urban community" in the former Township of Camden in Kent County in Ontario, Canada. Since the municipal reorganization of 1998 Kent County has become the unitary Municipality of Chatham-Kent.
Dresden was independently incorporated in 1882 but lost its incorporated status in the municipal reorganization.
Dresden is an agricultural community in southwestern Ontario, Canada, part of the municipality of Chatham-Kent. Dresden is best known as the home of Josiah Henson, the former U.S. slave whose life story was the inspiration for the novel Uncle Tom's Cabin. It has been, therefore, characterized as the "Terminus of the Underground Railroad", although many escaped slaves were known to gather, at least to worship, as far south and east as what is today Chatham, Ontario. The Henson homestead is a historic site located near what is today the town of Dresden, and is owned and operated by the Ontario Heritage Trust. Dresden is located on the Sydenham River. The community is named after Dresden, Germany.
Dresden was once home to not only Rev. Josiah Henson famous because of his association with the title character of Harriett Beecher Stowe's Uncle Tom's Cabin, but a variety of prominent figures from the Underground Railroad period. A recent discovery through the Trillium Trail Project which has been verified by research done in partnership with the Promised Land Project, headed by Boulou de B'beri of the University of Ottawa, is that large sections of the original town site were owned between 1853 and 1873 by William Whipper, a prominent member of the William Still Underground Railroad network. Today a number of artifact houses from this time period are still extant in the community.
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