Prescott (2011 population: 4284) is a town on the north shore of the Saint Lawrence River in Leeds and Grenville United Counties, Ontario, Canada. The Ogdensburg-Prescott International Bridge, east of Prescott at Johnstown, connects it with Ogdensburg, New York. The town was founded in the early 19th century by Edward Jessup, a Loyalist soldier during the American Revolution.
Prescott is the home of Fort Wellington, National Historic Park, which is a tourist destination. The Battle of the Thousand Islands was fought near the present location of the city in August 1760. During the War of 1812, troops stationed at Fort Wellington crossed the frozen river and burned Ogdensburg in retaliation for an American raid further up the river; the American citizens of Ogdensburg, who were profiting by supplying the British army with food and other necessities, drove out their own American military detachment after the raid so that they could continue doing business with the British army in Prescott.
Prescott was originally an important transshipment point for cargo moving from the Great Lakes eastwards towards Montreal, Quebec and the Atlantic Ocean, but the construction of the Saint Lawrence Seaway ended the forwarding trade. Prescott is on the mainline of the Canadian National Railway connecting Toronto to Montreal, and is near the junction of the east-west Highway 401 and Highway 416 north to Ottawa.
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 Leeds and Grenville Counties