Lincoln County is an historic county in the Canadian province of Ontario, formed in 1792, and named after the County of Lincoln, or Lincolnshire, in England. In 1845, the southern portion of Lincoln County was separated to form Welland County.
Lincoln benefits from a very mild climate and from the Niagara Escarpment which follows the line of the Lake Ontario shore, but is situated about 10 miles inland. The land on the lake side of the escarpment is good for growing fruit and vegetables of all kinds, and the land on the slope of the escarpment is used as vineyards. Above the escarpment the land is flat and arable crops are grown. Lincoln is known as Ontario’s bread basket.
In some census and election records from the late 19th century, the townships of Caistor and Gainsborough were enumerated as part of Monck County, while Grantham and Niagara Townships were enumerated as part of Niagara County. However, neither Monck nor Niagara ever existed as incorporated municipal counties, but rather as electoral districts.
In 1970, Lincoln and Welland Counties were amalgamated to form the Regional Municipality of Niagara.
The map of Lincoln 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.)
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 Lincoln County