Exeter is located on the Ausable River--the dividing line between the former townships of Usborne and Stephen.
Exeter was first founded in the winter of 1832 by the Irish settlers James and Jane Willis and also Amanda. By 1853, Exeter had grown into a community of over 300 with the help of Isaac Carling bringing immigrants from the Exeter and Devon areas of England.The original Carling homestead, a designated historical landmark still stands on Huron St.W. It was on July 1, 1873, when the villages north and south of the Ausable River (Francistown and Exeter respectively) merged to form the Village of Exeter. Exeter eventually became a town of over 4,500 people. Paintings of some of Exeter's historical citizens, by the late artist Harry Burke, may be seen at the Exeter Legion Hall.
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 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
Websites with more local information on Huron County