The map of Glengarry County circa 1951 from Ontario Archives locates the communities and physical features of the county. (Click at the bottom of the page to see the map enlarged.)
A sketchmap from Ontario GenWeb gives a more visible outline of the townships.
Glengarry County (Scottish Gaelic: Siorrachd Gleanna Garadh), an area covering 288,688 acres (1,168 km2), is the most eastern county in the Canadian province of Ontario.
Glengarry was first settled in 1784 by Highland Scottish emigrants, mainly from the Clan MacDonnell, coming north from the Mohawk Valley in New York State. The settlement also became a destination for Scottish emigrants displaced in Scotland due to the recent Highland Clearances. Throughout the late 18th and the 19th century, other Highland emigrants arrived knowing it to be a place where they could preserve their Highland Scottish Culture.
The county was established in 1792 as part of the Eastern District of Upper Canada. The original territory of Glengarry also included Prescott County to the north and west, which became a separate county in 1800.
The county was named after the Scottish Glen where the MacDonnell family was based. The Glengarry Highland Games are an example of the county's culture. They were first celebrated in 1948, and have been held annually since in the first week of August. These Games are one of the largest of their kind outside of Scotland.
Canadian Gaelic (i.e. Scottish Gaelic with practical local additions) used to be a common language in this region. Though the number of speakers has steadily decreased over the past years, those wanting to learn Gaelic are able to do so in classes held throughout the county.
During the 19th century the original Scots settlers were joined by French-speaking farming families from nearby Quebec who moved west to find land less densely populated.
In 1849 Glengarry united with the counties of Stormont and Dundas to the west to form a regional United Counties of Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry. The union between them was never a complete one. For this reason and for geographical simplicity, each of the three counties is discussed separately in WeRelate.
Glengarry was originally divided east and west into Charlottenburg and Lancaster Townships. Very early in their history Charlottenburg and Lancaster were divided north and south into two townships each, with the northern townships being named Kenyon and Lochiel, respectively. In 1998 the townships were reorganized into the municipalities of North Glengarry and South Glengarry.
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 Glengarry County