Hamilton was located in Wentworth County, Ontario until the county was turned into the Regional Municipality of Hamilton-Wentworth in 1974. In 2001 Hamilton-Wentworth became a new single-tier City of Hamilton including all the townships and towns that made up the original County of Wentworth.
Hamilton (; 2011 population 519,949; UA population 670,580; CMA population 721,053) is a port city in the Canadian province of Ontario. Conceived by George Hamilton when he purchased the Durand farm shortly after the War of 1812, Hamilton has become the centre of a densely populated and industrialized region at the west end of Lake Ontario known as the Golden Horseshoe. On January 1, 2001, the new City of Hamilton was formed through the amalgamation of the former city and the other constituent lower-tier municipalities of the Regional Municipality of Hamilton-Wentworth with the upper-tier regional government. Residents of the old city are known as Hamiltonians. Since 1981, the metropolitan area has been listed as the ninth largest in Canada and the third largest in Ontario.
Hamilton is home to the shared Royal Botanical Gardens, the Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum, the Bruce Trail, McMaster University and Mohawk College. The Canadian Football Hall of Fame can be found downtown right beside Hamilton City Hall and across town to the east, the Canadian Football League's Hamilton Tiger-Cats will begin playing at the new Tim Hortons Field in 2014, which is being built as part of the 2015 Pan American Games.
Partly because of its diverse environment, numerous TV and film productions have been filmed in Hamilton, regulated by the Hamilton Film and Television Office. A growing arts and culture sector garnered media attention in a 2006 Globe and Mail news article, entitled "Go West, Young Artist," which focused on the growing art scene in Hamilton. The article highlighted local art galleries, recording studios and independent film production.
In pre-colonial times, the Neutral Indians used much of the land but were gradually driven out by the Five (later Six) Nations (Iroquois) who were allied with the British against the Huron and their French allies. A member of the Iroquois Confederacy provided the route and name for Mohawk Road, which originally included King Street in the lower city. In 1784, about 10,000 United Empire Loyalists settled in Upper Canada (what is now southern Ontario), chiefly in Niagara, around the Bay of Quinte, and along the St. Lawrence River between Lake Ontario and Montreal. They were soon followed by many more Americans, some of them not so much ardent loyalists but attracted nonetheless by the availability of inexpensive, arable land. At the same time, large numbers of Iroquois loyal to Britain arrived from the United States and were settled on reserves west of Lake Ontario.
The town of Hamilton was conceived by George Hamilton (a son of a Queenston entrepreneur and founder, Robert Hamilton), when he purchased farm holdings of James Durand, the local Member of the British Legislative Assembly, shortly after the War of 1812. Nathaniel Hughson, a property owner to the north, cooperated with George Hamilton to prepare a proposal for a courthouse and jail on Hamilton's property. Hamilton offered the land to the crown for the future site. Durand was empowered by Hughson and Hamilton to sell property holdings which later became the site of the town. As he had been instructed, Durand circulated the offers at York during a session of the Legislative Assembly and a new Gore District was established of which the Hamilton townsite was a member.
Initially, this town was not the most important centre of the Gore District. A permanent jail was not constructed until 1832 when a cut-stone design was completed on one of the two squares created in 1816, Prince's Square. Subsequently, the first police board and the town limits were defined by statute on February 13, 1833. Official City status was achieved on June 9, 1846, by an act of Parliament, 9 Victoria Chapter 73.
As the city grew, several prominent buildings were constructed in the late 19th century, including the Grand Lodge of Canada in 1855, West Flamboro Methodist Church in 1879 (later purchased by Dufferin Masonic Lodge in 1893), a public library in 1890, and the Right House department store in 1893. The first commercial telephone service in Canada, the first telephone exchange in the British Empire, and the second telephone exchange in all of North America all were established in the city between 1877–78. The city had several interurban electric street railways and two inclines, all powered by the Cataract Power Co.
On January 1, 2001, the new city of Hamilton was formed from the forced amalgamation of the Regional Municipality of Hamilton-Wentworth and its six municipalities: Ancaster, Dundas, Flamborough, Glanbrook, and Stoney Creek. Before amalgamation, the "old" City of Hamilton had 331,121 Hamiltonians divided into 100 neighbourhoods. The new amalgamated city has 519,949 people in over 100 old neighbourhoods, and surrounding communities.
The city experienced a devastating fire at the Plastimet plastics plant in 1997. Close to 300 firefighters battled the blaze, and many sustained severe chemical burns and inhaled volatile organic compounds when at least 400 tonnes of PVC Plastic were consumed in the fire.
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 Wentworth County