Lanark County is a county located in the Canadian province of Ontario. Its county seat is Perth, which was first settled in 1816. Most European settlement of the county began in 1816, when Drummond, Beckwith and Bathurst townships were named and initially surveyed. The first farm north of the Rideau was cleared and settled somewhat earlier, in 1790. The county took its name from the town of Lanark in Scotland. Nearly all the townships were named after British public and military figures from the era of early settlement.
Lanark County was established in 1824 from Carleton County which at that time was part of the Bathurst District. When the District form of administration was abolished in 1849, Lanark joined with the neighbouring county of Renfrew in a judicial union. This was dissolved in 1866 and the counties have since been independent of each other.
The following section is taken from the Ontario GenWeb article on Lanark County:
Settlement began in 1815 when free passage was offered to British emigrants to Canada. The first settlers arrived from Scotland that fall but were unable to take possession of their land until 1816. They settled near the military settlement of Perth where soldiers had lived since the end of the 1812 war.
There were several emigration schemes that helped to settle Lanark County, like "such organizations as the Lesmahago and Transatlantic Societies which sent groups of Scottish settlers to Dalhousie Township in 1820" (source:Places In Ontario by Nick & Helma Mika, 1977).
The map of Lanark County circa 1951 from Ontario Archives locates the individual municipalities, townships, city, towns and villages of the county.
Lanark went through its municipal reorganzation in 1997. The new townships and towns have all been identified as "municipalities" for the sake of uniformity here. Wikipedia has producted a series of diagrammatic maps of the county indicating the new municipalities.
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 Lanark County