Ridgetown is a "small urban community" in the former Township of Howard in Kent County in Ontario, Canada. Since the municipal reorganization of 1998 Kent County has become the unitary Municipality of Chatham-Kent.
Ridgetown is a community located in south-east Chatham-Kent, Ontario, Canada. It is home to the University of Guelph Ridgetown Campus. It has a population of roughly 3,500 and is one of many small farming communities in Chatham-Kent. The town motto is, "The Friendliest Town in Ontario".
Ridgetown was incorporated as a village in 1875 with just over 2,000 citizens. In 1975, with well over 3,220 residents, Ridgetown celebrated its centennial. Residents celebrated by dressing in 1875 costumes, conducting beard-growing contests, barbecues, and other activities.
The Rotary Club of Ridgetown bought the Galbraith house and formed the Ridgetown Historical Society. The Ridge House Museum is now a living history museum that gets many visitors.
The name of Ridgetown came from it being situated on a gravel ridge, a remnant of the glacier age. The families Marsh, Mitton, Watson and Colby were the first settlers. William "Daddy" Marsh, who was known for making up far-fetched stories, once said that at York (now Toronto) where they were from, he climbed up a tall tree, saw the ridge and the plentiful land and said that was the place to be.
Today, with over 3.500 residents, Ridgetown proudly shares the outlying areas that produce major crops such as soybeans, corn, wheat, grains, apples and peaches. There is also a large percentage of dairy farms that are operated mostly by eastern European settlers.
The water supply is drawn from a number of deep wells around the town and is not connected to a piped system from a lake or river.
The railway tracks of the Canada Southern/Michigan Central/New York Central and Detroit River and Lake Erie/Pere Marquette/C&O railways used to run through Ridgetown, though these are both gone now – the last steam train through Ridgetown was in 2005. The railways formed an important part of Ridgetown's heritage, because there had been competition between Ridgetown and Morpeth (now a small hamlet on Highway 3 - Talbot Trail) to get them. Ridgetown 'won' and expanded, to the everlasting cost of Morpeth which had to that point been advantageously situated on the major east-west highway in the area.
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