Matilda has an area 62,327 acres (252 km2) and is located on the St Lawrence River in eastern Ontario. It was first settled in 1784 by Loyalists to the British crown after the American Revolutionary War. Many of these Loyalists were of German descent and had been settled in America for two or three generations.
The Township was formally organized in 1787 and named in honour of the Princess Royal, Charlotte Augusta Matilda, who married the King of Württemberg in 1797. During the War of 1812 a fort was located at Point Iroquois.
Communities: Iroquois, Irena, Dundela, Glen Stewart, Brinston, Hulbert and Pleasant Valley.
Since 1998 this Township has been part of Municipality of South Dundas.
The county was named in 1792 to honour Henry Dundas, who was Lord Advocate for Scotland and Colonial Secretary at the time. Matilda and Williamsburgh were two of Upper Canada's original eight Royal Townships. The northern portions of Matilda and Williamsburg townships were separated in 1798 to form the new townships of Mountain and Winchester within Dundas County.
The McIntosh apple was invented, or discovered, in South Dundas near Williamsburg. John McIntosh's parents emigrated from Inverness, Scotland to the Mohawk Valley in New York, and John moved to Upper Canada in 1796. In 1811 he acquired a farm in Dundela, and while clearing the land of second growth discovered several apple seedlings. He transplanted these, and one bore the superior fruit which became famous as the McIntosh Red apple. John's son Allan established a nursery and promoted this new species extensively. It was widely acclaimed in Ontario and the northern United States, and was introduced into British Columbia about 1910. Its popularity in North America and propagation in many lands attest the initiative and industry of John McIntosh and his descendants.
James Pliny Whitney, Ontario's sixth premier, is buried here in the cemetery of Holy Trinity Anglican Church in Riverside Heights, just east of Morrisburg and north of County Road 2 (formerly Highway 2). Whitney was born in Williamsburg in 1843, represented Dundas County in the Legislature from 1888 to 1914 and served as Premier from 1905 to 1914.
Morrisburg and Iroquois were partially flooded by the creation of the St. Lawrence Seaway in 1958. Unlike the Lost Villages of Cornwall and Osnabruck Townships, however, the two towns were simply relocated to higher ground in the same area. There was an international design competition in 1954 to design the new Iroquois townsite. Canadian-British architect Wells Coates was among those who submitted redevelopment concepts.
An artificial lake, Lake Saint Lawrence, now extends from a hydroelectric dam at Cornwall to the control structure at Iroquois, and replaces the formerly narrow and turbulent section of river that was impassable to large vessels. It replaces, in part, the Long Sault rapids.
In 1976, stuntman Ken Carter attempted to jump a one mile portion of the Saint Lawrence River by taking a one million dollar Lincoln Continental rocket car off an eight-storey ramp. This was billed as The Super Jump. The ramp and its runway were located in a field just west of Hanes Road, South of County road 2. The ramp has since been demolished, but the concrete runway still exists as of 2012.
Charles A. Barkley, who was elected mayor of the municipality in the 2006 municipal elections, died unexpectedly on June 17, 2009. He was a municipal politician since 1981 when he joined the Township of Matilda council. He was succeeded by deputy mayor Robert Gillard.
The map of Dundas County circa 1951 from Ontario Archives locates the communities and physical features 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 Dundas County
This information was gathered July 2012.