Pefferlaw is a community within the Town of Georgina (and formerly in the Township of Georgina), located 3 kilometres south of the southeastern shores of Lake Simcoe. A river, known officially as the Pefferlaw River, runs just south of the community's commercial district. Pefferlaw is passed on the north by Highway 48 and Lake Ridge Road (Durham Road 23) to the east, and is serviced by Pefferlaw Road which links these two traffic arteries. The Canadian National railway passes through Pefferlaw and, until the early 1990s, served a railway station in the community's commercial district. This railway links Toronto with Orillia, as well as to Northern Ontario where Via Rail transcontinental trains head to Vancouver.
Pefferlaw was founded in the late 1820s by Captain William Johnson; a British Naval Officer who was released from service in 1815 following the Battle of Waterloo. The name, Pefferlaw, was suggested to Captain Johnson by his brother in remembrance of a field among the heather on their old homestead and means, “a beautiful greensward.”
The first preserved diaries of William Johnson begin in 1832. By that time he had a sawmill, woolen mill and gristmill built at Pefferlaw.
The first store in the village of Pefferlaw was built in August 1833. Soon after, Robert Johnson, brother of William, took over running the store and shortly thereafter built a large two-story red brick house on the edge of the bank beside the store which still stands today. The second store in Pefferlaw was built by George Johnson, son of Captain William, this in 1856.
Banking came to Pefferlaw with the arrival of the C.N.R. Railway in 1906.
The Pefferlaw area like all early hamlets had its share of hotels – one at every crossroad. The Morning Glory Hotel was built in the 1860s and stood for many years on the site of the present day Morning Glory Public School. The tavern was well patronized by river drivers, lumber workers and stage coach passengers and drivers. The Mansion House Hotel was built in 1884. When it changed owners in 1906 the establishment was renamed, Hotel Belvedere.
Captain Johnson died in 1851 at "Oldcastle", lot 6, conc. 7, Georgina, which was always his home. He is buried there.
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