The Township of North Dumfries is a rural township in Ontario, Canada, part of the Regional Municipality of Waterloo. The township includes the communities of Ayr, Branchton, Clyde, Reidsville and Roseville.
Dumfries Township started as a single township in the Gore District. It was part of the large Grand River purchase bought by William Dickson in 1816 from Joseph Brant and his First Nation peoples and originally known as "Block One". The division into two townships--North Dumfries and South Dumfries--occurred in 1852 after the counties had taken the place of the districts in the local administration of the province. North Dumfries became part of Waterloo County and South Dumfries joined Brant County.
The township developed from less that 100 settlers in 1818 to over 4000 by 1834. All the lots were filled by 1832. Shade's Mill was the heart of the township. It was named after Absalom Shade, who was responsible, along with William Dickson, in opening the township. The original settlers were Scottish (hence the name of the township), but some Mennonites from Pennsylvania were present in North Dumfries. When Shade's Mill obtained its first post office in 1925, it was renamed Galt. Galt became an independently incorporated town around 1852.
In 1973, when municipal restructuring turned the County of Waterloo into the Regional Municipality of Waterloo, the township expanded to the east to include the Village of Clyde which had formerly been in Wentworth County and some sections of the township were annexed or amalgamated into the new City of Cambridge (formerly Galt, Preston and Hespeler). North Dumfries has continued to be called a township under the Regional Municipality and continues to surround its urban hub even though the name of the urban hub has changed).
The map of Waterloo 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.)
A sketchmap from Ontario GenWeb gives an outline of the townships.
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