The text in this section is based on an article in Wikipedia.
Prince Edward County is located in Southern Ontario on a large irregular headland or littoral at the eastern end of Lake Ontario, just west of the head of the St. Lawrence River. This headland (officially named Prince Edward County in 1792) is surrounded on the north and east by the Bay of Quinte. As the Murray Canal now connects the bay to Lake Ontario across the only land connection, the county is technically an island.
In 1998, all of the former municipalities in Prince Edward County amalgamated to form a single-tier municipality as part of province-wide municipal restructuring. Each of the former municipalities is now a "ward". The former county seat and current council hall is located at the Shire Hall in Picton.
“WHEN the thirteen American Colonies forcibly severed themselves (with the assistance of England’s ancient rival and enemy) from the protection of the mother country, a large number of the colonists would not allow the illjudged legislation of a political party, who for a time held the reins of power at home, or the still more wicked, insane and ungenerous conduct of their unthinking fellow-subjects in America, to deprive them of their proud birthright as British subjects, and of the benefit to themselves and posterity of that excellent constitution and those just laws, which in their minds were associated with and hallowed by every sentiment that tends to the elevation and advancement of humanity. Preferring to live under the old flag in a strange and comparatively unexplored country, than to remain in their old homes, where the great mass of the people had thrown off allegiance to the British Crown, they came to Canada, bringing with them those high principles of loyalty and honor which their descendants yet retain, many of whom still live on the same property in Prince Edward County which was bestowed by a grateful Sovereign in appreciation of their unwavering loyalty.”
The settlement for European-Canadians was facilitated when the county was created by Upper Canada's founding lieutenant-governor John Graves Simcoe on July 16, 1792. It was named after Prince Edward Augustus, Duke of Kent (the fourth son of King George III) who was commander-in-chief of British North America.
Shortly after the American Revolution, the Crown made land grants to some of the earliest United Empire Loyalists to encourage their settlements in Ontario and provide compensation for property lost in the Thirteen Colonies. The county was originally composed of three townships named in honour of three of George III's daughters.
For many years Prince Edward County has been closely associated with the wholly mainland Hastings County. Its longtime militia unit has been The Hastings and Prince Edward Regiment (locally known as the Hasty Ps), whose most famous member was Farley Mowat. This noted nature author wrote And No Birds Sang, about his experiences with the Hasty Ps during the Second World War's Italian Campaign.
In 1998, all of the former municipalities in Prince Edward County amalgamated to form a single-tier municipality as part of provincewide municipal restructuring. Each of the former municipalities is now a ward.
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 1915 are now available [October 2014]; 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, known to Canadians as "LAC". Copies of original microfilms are online at the LAC website for all censuses up to 1911. Each census database is preceded with an explanation of the geographical area covered, the amount of material retained (some census division material has been lost), the questions on the census form, and whether there is a name index. Census divisions were redrawn as the population increased and more land was inhabited. The 1921 census is only available through Ancestry.ca, but it is free-to-view.
E-books and Books
Some websites with more local information on Prince Edward County