Listowel was formerly an incorporated town surrounded by the Township of Wallace in Perth County in Ontario, Canada. Since the municipal reorganization of 1998 it has been unincorporated and located in the municipality or Township of North Perth.
Settler John Binning arrived in 1857 and was the first to create a permanent residence in the area. The community was originally named Mapleton, but the name was changed when a post office was established. The new name was chosen by a government official and refers to Listowel, Ireland. The majority of early settlers were of Protestant Irish origin (Ulster Scots Planters, or English Planters). Incorporated in 1867 as a village and in 1875 as a town, Listowel is now part of the town of North Perth.
A notable citizen of Listowel was John Livingstone. John was the older brother of David Livingstone, the Scottish missionary who explored Africa in the mid-19th century and discovered Victoria Falls. While his brother went to Africa, John emigrated to Canada, settling in Listowel.
In 1871 the Wellington, Grey and Bruce Railway extended its line to Listowel. It was joined in 1873 by a second railway, the Stratford and Huron Railway, and Listowel soon became an important shipping point. The population doubled when industries, including a woollen mill, a sawmill, a planing mill and a tannery, were established. In 1891 the Morris, Field, Rogers Company Ltd began to manufacture Morris pianos in Listowel.
The Campbell Soup Company was a major local employer for 48 years, operating a frozen, foodservice and specialty food plant in Listowel. The factory closed in 2008.
The surrounding area is mostly agricultural land located on the Perth Plain, dominated by the beef and pork industries.
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 1915 are now available [October 2014]; 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, known to Canadians as "LAC". Copies of original microfilms are online at the LAC website for all censuses up to 1911. Each census database is preceded with an explanation of the geographical area covered, the amount of material retained (some census division material has been lost), the questions on the census form, and whether there is a name index. Census divisions were redrawn as the population increased and more land was inhabited. The 1921 census is only available through Ancestry.ca, but it is free-to-view.
E-books and Books
Some websites with more local information on Perth County