The text in this section is based on an article in Wikipedia.
Elgin County is located in southwestern Ontario. It was established as a county from townships in Middlesex County in 1851 following the abolition of the District system of administrative government in Canada West (later Ontario). The county town is St Thomas.
The map of Elgin County circa 1951 from Ontario Archives locates the individual townships, city, towns and villages of the county. (Click at the bottom of the page to see the map enlarged.)
A sketchmap from Ontario GenWeb provides a simple illustration of the location of the former townships.
Elgin County was organized as a separate county in 1851 and named after Lord Elgin, the governor-general of Canada. Settlement was first encouraged by Thomas Talbot (1771-1853) who originally came to Canada as personal secretary to John Graves Simcoe in 1791. After returning to England, Talbot convinced the British government to allow him to implement a land settlement scheme along the shore of Lake Erie. Eventually this scheme brought about the settlement of the Townships of Aldborough and Dunwich. As time passed, Talbot placed settlers on lands in Southwold, Yarmouth, Malahide and Bayham townships as well.
Originally Elgin County was once part of a county named Suffolk which was located on the shore of Lake Erie west of Norfolk County. Suffolk County also included the present Middlesex County. Suffolk disappeared from use before 1850.
There were seven townships and two towns (separately incorporated) in 1851, namely
Ontario GenWeb provide a sketchmap of the townships of Elgin County.
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 Elgin County