Sunderland is described as a "suburban community" by the Natural Resources Canada Database of Geographic Names. Its proximity to Newmarket probably gives it the connotaion of suburb. It is situated in the former Brock Township, and is located approximately 100 km northeast of Toronto. Brock Township was a part of Ontario County until 1974 when it became a township in the Regional Municipality of Durham, Ontario, Canada.
In 1871 Lovell's Canadian Dominion Directory described Sunderland as
The land that the Town of Sunderland was built on was granted in the early 1820s to United Empire Loyalists. (Sir Isaac Brock's Estate was given of free land in the vicinity). Sunderland slowly grew around the Brock Hotel - a popular overnight stop for travelers that was owned by Lorenzo Jones. The first post office was called Brock and was run by Andrew Hill; it was located just north at the modern junction of Highway 12 and 7th Concession.
Sunderland was originally called Jones Corners, as both Arch and Lorenzo Jones owned property in what became the downtown core. They produced a town plan and it was renamed Sunderland by 1871 when the Toronto - Lindsay Line of the Toronto and Nipissing Railway was built. The town's population grew rapidly during this time. (Vroomanton, a larger village to the west was bypassed by the railway, and its population subsequently dropped).
Sunderland's name is thought to come from Charles Spencer, the Third Earl of Sunderland in England. He was the Secretary of State, and he helped move Palatine German families to London and then, with Queen Anne's aid, to Ireland in the early 18th century. Many of the men in these families had ancestors who fought for Britain in the American War of Independence in 1776 and in the War of 1812 in the New World, and so, in 1818, after the wars, for their efforts, they were granted free land in what was to become Brock Township, Ontario. These early Palatine settlers included surnames like: Shier, Baker, Switzer, Lowe, St. John, Lodwick, Brethour and Doble.
Hurricane Hazel struck Sunderland in 1954, and another storm in 1957 destroyed the skating arena and tore out many trees.
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