Merritton is both a distinct community within and a council ward of St. Catharines, Ontario, Canada. It was named after William Hamilton Merritt, a prominent local entrepreneur and founder of the Welland Canal Company. Until 1858, Merritton was named Welland City, but exchanged names that year with Merrittsville (Today's Welland City), when that town became the "seat" of Welland county.
Merritton is often referred to as The Heart of St. Catharines, due in large part to the location. Prior to amalgamation in 1960 which saw the original city of St. Catharines absorb several satellite towns, Merritton was a separate entity (along with Grantham and Port Dalhousie). To this day, residents maintain a sense of distinct community identity. The original town hall, on Merritt St., once the City of St. Catharines Museum, is now home to the St. Catharines Senior's Centre.
Merritton has developed a significant system of community organizations, including the Merritton Lions, who oversee the Community Days Parade (formerly known as the Labour Day parade) and Carnival, the Dunc Schooley Memorial Pool, and several other sports and recreation facilities. It is also home to one of St. Catharines' arenas, and a Community Centre.
As a former industrial center on the Welland Canal, Merritton retains a small yet impressive number of heritage sites. Among them are the Merritton Tunnel (under the third Welland Canal), remnants of the three previous Welland Canals and several early industrial ruins, and The Keg restaurant, which is housed in the former Independent Rubber Company / Merritton Cotton Mills Annex. The area has undergone a major infrastructure facelift involving the re-alignment of Glendale Avenue and the replacement of the Merritt Street Bridge. It is also experiencing a significant increase in residential construction, especially on property designated as brownfield by the city.
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 Lincoln County