After the War of 1812, loyal settlers were sought for Upper Canada (now Ontario). The United Empire Loyalists, who, after the American Revolution, had helped to settle areas further south and west in Upper Canada were being regarded with increasing suspicion. Instead, disbanded soldiers were the most immediate loyal settlers for this new era of development.
The village was laid out for the Government in 1817 by Colonel Fortune, and settlement commenced as early as 1818. This was a military point for a number of years. The Duke of Richmond, then Governor General of Canada, died here in 1819 from the bite of a rabid pet fox, in a frame barn on Chapman's farm, about 2 miles from the village, on the Goodwood river. The Masonic Arms Tavern, his abode on the previous night, was renamed Duke of Richmond Tavern in his honour. The village derives its name from the Duke of Richmond.
Richmond was selected by the British Army in 1818 as one of the first military settlements. Others included Perth and Lanark. Named after the Duke of Richmond, who was the newly appointed Governor General of the Canadas, the village of Richmond was laid out in a grid on the north bank of the Jock River (which for a while was renamed the Goodwood after the Duke’s English estate). Richmond was the centre for the administration of lands in the area. Military supervisor, Major Burke, placed mainly Irish soldiers of his 99th Regiment in Goulbourn. Scottish settlers from Perthshire were placed in the adjoining area of northeast Beckwith, while Irish civilians were settled in southeast Beckwith, Goulbourn, and other parts of the neighbouring townships.
In the spring of 1818 the officers and men of 99th were at Quebec, and, in common with those of other regiments, had their choice of a passage home to Ireland or, if they so elected, to remain here in Canada where they would receive free grants of land in the new country to be settled on the Ottawa and Rideau rivers. Thus, in late 1818 (with the help of neighbours in Hull, Quebec assisting in construction) the village of Richmond was born.
From 1818 to 1822, the village was managed by the Settling Branch of Upper Canada's Military Department. Village life was dominated by military culture and institutions during these early years. While official plans of the village demonstrate an optimism for its future growth and importance, this never came to pass. By the time the military relinquished control of the village in 1822, very few civilians had settled. Many historians argue that the highly planned villages of early nineteenth century Ottawa Valley were a failure compared to villages and towns that sprang up in a more "organic" nature in response to such factors as proximity to transportation routes, natural resources, and quality farm land. In the case of Richmond, the rising importance of Bytown and the building of the Rideau Canal several kilometres east of Richmond significantly contributed to its failure to thrive. By 1832, Hamnett Pinhey described the state of Richmond to the Freeholders of Carleton as, "a jail in itself." He goes on to note that, "I have known that place these thirteen years, it was then a rising place, but it has been falling ever since, and is now almost nothing; not a house has been built but many a one has fallen down and still are falling... if you get into it in the Spring, you can't get out till Summer; and if you get into it in the Fall, you must wait till the Winter, and whose fault is it but the Magistrates and Gentry of Richmond; that is to say the Shopkeepers?"
Richmond was incorporated as a village on the Goodwood river, in the east corner of the township of Goulbourne, 21 miles from Ottawa City, and 11 miles from the Ottawa river in 1850. For a number of years the trade and business was very active, but by the 1860s appears to have declined. By 1866, the village with a population of 600, contained several general stores, flouring mills and tannery; a grammar school, building of frame, W. Houghton, master. There were four churches-Church of England, built of stone, Rev. J. C. B. Pettit, rector; Church of Scotland, building of frame, Rev. Wm. P. White, minister; Wesleyan Methodist, building of frame; and the Roman Catholic church, built of stone, Rev. Peter O'Connell, parish priest.
It was annexed by Goulbourn Township in 1974. In 1969, Richmond became part of Regional Municipality of Ottawa-Carleton until 2001. It has been within the City of Ottawa since January 1, 2001 as one of the many rural villages recognized by the City of Ottawa. Each of these amalgamations has resulted in a significant reduction in democratic representation for villagers. Some residents in Richmond are displeased about the most recent amalgamation into the Ottawa city structure and would like to de-amalgamate along with other areas of rural Carleton County.
Map of Ottawa and Carleton County from Wikipedia Commons
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
Researching in Eastern Ontario
The website of the Ottawa Branch of the Ontario Genealogical Society offers a number of search engines for databases of material they maintain:
The Society covers the counties of Carleton (combined with the city of Ottawa), Lanark, Renfrew, Prescott and Russell. There is a note on the website that the URL will be changing soon (Jun 2012). It may be best to “google” the Ottawa Branch of OGS.