The text in this section is based on an article in Wikipedia.
The rolling hills of the Oak Ridges Moraine are the most prominent visible geographical feature of King. The Holland Marsh, considered to be Ontario's "vegetable basket", straddles King Township and Bradford West Gwillimbury. King is known for its horse and cattle farms.
See the note at the end of the History section with regard to the change in boundaries of King Township between the days of York County (pre 1971) and the present York Region.
Ontario GenWeb has a sketchmap of the original townships of York County and York GenWeb provides another sketchmap of the equivalent municipalities in York Region (established 1971). Note that after 1971 the boundaries of the towns of Newmarket, Aurora and Richmond Hill are defined. These towns were all separately incorporated from the townships many years before that date, but none would have had such a large geographical footprint.
The map of York County circa 1951 from Ontario Archives locates the individual municipalities, townships, city, towns and villages of the county. (Click at the bottom of the page to see the map enlarged.)
King Township is named for Major John King, an English Under-Secretary of State from 1794 to 1801 for the Home Department in the Portland administration. The township was created as part of the subdivision of York County, itself a subdivision of the Home District. The lands were originally acquired by the British in an agreement with the Mississaugas, known as the Toronto Purchase; it was enacted in British parliament as the Toronto Purchase Act in 1787. Approximately of land were administered by the township in 1878, according to the Historical Atlas of York County, but by 1973 this had been reduced to 82,000; some of its land has been ceded to what are now known as Newmarket, Aurora and Oak Ridges.
Lieutenant-Governor John Graves Simcoe planned Yonge Street, which was built between 1793 and 1796 by the Queen's Rangers. By 1801, Timothy Rogers, a Loyalist from Vermont, had travelled the road and found an area on its western boundary immediately southwest of Newmarket very appealing. He applied for and received a grant for land totalling 40 farms, each of , and subsequently returned to Vermont to recruit families to operate those farms. By February 1802, he had set out for King Township with the first group of settlers for those forty farms. A second group followed later that month.
The area would become known as Armitage, in honour of its first settler Amos Armitage. It was the first of King's settlements, and now part of Newmarket. Soon after the establishment of Armitage, the communities of Kettleby and Lloydtown were established to the west. More settlers arrived from New York, Pennsylvania, and other Loyalist enclaves over the subsequent years to populate the region, drawn by the abundant, fertile land being apportioned relatively cheaply to newcomers.
The first survey of King Township was conducted in 1800 by Hessian soldier Johann Stegmann. At the time, the area's population was twenty residents. According to a letter by Benjamin Cody to the Newmarket Era published on 7 May 1892, there were church records listing births in the area, and the first white child in King may have been Sarah Rogers, born April 1800. At least four children were born in King by July 1802. By 1809, the township's population had increased sevenfold, to 160.
There is some evidence of a large Huron encampment at Hackett Lake. Residents in the area in the 1950s and 1960s would discover arrowheads and other archaeological items indicating a Huron presence. This is consistent with the fact that the Toronto Carrying-Place Trail, a major route used in the 17th and 18th centuries, passes through the township. The route was used by explorer Étienne Brûlé, who first travelled along the trail with twelve Huron guides in 1615.
Early settlements in the area developed primarily around gristmills and sawmills. These were important economic engines in the region during the 19th century, which resulted in the establishment of other communities and businesses nearby. Some settlements have since been abandoned, or are no longer communities per se, including Bell's Lake, Davis Corners, and King Ridge.
In 1971, with the formation of the Regional Municipality of York and dissolution of York County, the township's boundaries were changed, shifting west by one concession from Yonge Street to Bathurst Street, and north by one lot from the King-Vaughan town line.
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