NOTE: one should not get confused between Pelee Island and its archipeligo which makes up Pelee Township, and Point Pelee on the mainland which is a part of the Municipality of Leamington (and formerly the Township of Mersea).
Pelee Island is part of the Township of Pelee in Essex County, and has its own mayor, deputy mayor, and three councillors. It is what is called a separated township. The township comprises nine islands, the largest being Pelee Island, and including Middle Island, Middle Sister Island, Hen Island, Big Chicken Island, Little Chicken Island, Chick Island, East Sister Island, and North Harbour Island. The total land area of all islands in the township is 41.84 km2 (16.15 sq mi). Middle Island is the southernmost point of land in Canada.
Its climate, classified as Carolinian, is one of the mildest in the country, and the island has long been used for vineyards and wine making. The wine industry was started here in 1860 and died out in the early twentieth century, but restarted in the 1980s. The island is an agricultural based community which grows about 5,000 acres (20 km2) of soybeans, about 1,000 acres (4.0 km2) of wheat, 500 acres (2 km2) of grapes, and a few acres of specialty corn.
Transport to the mainland is mostly by ferry, but also by air.
The map of Essex County circa 1951 from Ontario Archives locates the individual townships, city, towns and villages of the county. (Click at the bottom of the page to see the map enlarged.)
A sketchmap from Ontario GenWeb provides a simple illustration of the location of the former townships.
There is a sketchmap illustrating the new subdivisions of Essex County at Wikipedia.
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 Essex County