Newcastle was incorporated as a village in 1856. It was located in Clarke Township in Durham County, Ontario. Its population dropped from 1200 in 1870, to 800 in 1895, and to 625 by 1910. It remained a small place through the 20th century.
In 1974 municipal reorganization of Durham County brought about the merger of Clarke Township with its neighbour Darlington Township and the amalgamation into the new municipality of all the incorporated towns and villages within them. In the beginning it was decided to call the new municipality the City of Newcastle, but the local inhabitants did not take to this idea and in 1993 the municipality was renamed Clarington (combining the names of the forming townships).
In the past Newcastle has been surrounded by agriculture: farms raising cattle, pigs and growing apples, grain, corn and cash crops. A lot of this farmland has been sold off for housing developments.
Early settlers using sticks and spears could catch as many as 100000 salmon in one night from streams running into Lake Ontario. One man who had a great influence on the village was Samuel Wilmot. He became interested in the salmon as early as 1860 and built a "fish hatchery" at Newcastle - one of the world's first. Wilmot would eventually become head of fisheries for Canada, and in the 1890s he was running a small generating station which supplied Newcastle with its first electrical power.
Other notable inhabitants were Daniel Massey (1798-1856), whose farm implement business, established in 1847 in Newcastle, eventually formed the Massey-Ferguson farm implement business; and Joseph E. Atkinson (1865-1948) whose newspaper career ended as publisher of the Toronto Star, one of the largest and most influential newspapers in Canada.
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 Durham County