Haldimand is a rural city-status single-tier municipality (but called a county) on the Niagara Peninsula in Southern Ontario, Canada, on the north shore of Lake Erie, and on the Grand River. Municipal offices are located in Cayuga.
Haldimand was named after the Governor-in-Chief of Canada (1778-1786) Sir Frederick Haldimand. In 1844 the land was surrendered by the Six Nations Indians to the Crown in an agreement that was signed by the vast majority of Chiefs in the Haldimand tract. In return, Joseph Brant and his followers, known as the Six Nations, were granted six miles of land on each side of the Grand River in which to settle. Brant, who originally lived in New York State, took the British side during the American Revolutionary War. When he and his followers were awarded the lands on the Grand River, he invited many fellow Loyalists not of native heritage to settle there too. These white settlers arrived in 1784. The county had to be re-purchased from the Indians and was not opened for general settlement until 1832.
In 1816 the townships of Ancaster, Barton, Binbrook, Glanford, and Saltfleet were removed from Haldimand County and established as Wentworth County in the Gore District.
During the early days of Haldimand County, an important industry was lumber. Once the forests could no longer support this industry farming took over. The Grand River, flowing west to east across the centre of the county, had great importance as an internal shipping route during the many years of building the Welland Canal.
In 1974, Haldimand joined with Norfolk, its neighbouring county to the west, as the Regional Municipality of Haldimand-Norfolk.
In 2001, the counties were separated again, but this time each county became a single-tier municipality under their old names. Haldimand was re-formed through the amalgamation of the former Towns of Haldimand and Dunnville, and the eastern half of the City of Nanticoke.
The map of Haldimand 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.
The ghost towns of Cranston, Dufferin, Erie, Indiana Lambs Corners, Lythmore, Sandusk, Upper, Varency, are also located within Haldimand.
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
Some websites with more local information on Haldimand County
Two books referenced in Wikipedia in printed form which can be found on Our Roots, an online e-book site