Tecumseh is a town on Lake St. Clair east of Windsor, Ontario, Canada. In the municipal restructuring of 1999 the town of St. Clair Beach and the Township of Sandwich South were amalgamated into Tecumseh. Previously, in 1991, part of Sandwich East also merged into Tecumseh.
From its origins in the late 1700s as a small Franco-Ontarian settlement with only a church, a school, a post office, a hotel and a general store, it has evolved into a thriving town or 23,500 people at the 2011 census. Food processing is a major industry in Tecumseh.
The map of Essex County circa 1951 from Ontario Archives locates the individual townships, city, towns and villages of the county. (Click at the bottom of the page to see the map enlarged.)
A sketchmap from Ontario GenWeb provides a simple illustration of the location of the former townships.
This is a sketchmap from Wikipedia illustrating the new subdivisions of Essex County.
In 1792, Tecumseh, then known as Ryegate Postal Station, had only three families. In 1912. Ryegate Postal Station was renamed Tecumseh in honour of Tecumseh, leader of the Shawnee Tribe who was killed at battle in the War of 1812. Tecumseh had a large Franco-Ontarian population, and when nearby Windsor started to grow into the area, there arose conflict between the Loyalists and the Canadiens.
The creation of Tecumseh Road in 1838 and the establishment of the Great Western Railway opened up the area for settlement. The town became an important railway depot and stopover for travellers. County residents took horse and buggy into Tecumseh and then transferred onto the train, journeying by rail the rest of the way into Windsor. Several popular hotels were started in Tecumseh to accommodate travellers. The Bedell Hotel, the Soulliere Inn, the Hebert and the Hotel Perreault were some of the places most frequented by travellers and locals alike.
The French were for the most part the original settlers of Tecumseh, the majority of them descendants of the Frenchmen who had established their seigneural land holdings along the banks of the Detroit River in 1700s.
As the Town of Windsor grew, Tecumseh began to experience new blood when the overflow of immigrants coming to the city began to settle in the peripheral regions as well. Indicative of the change was the mix-up created by the introduction of the tomato to the area of Tecumseh. Many of the English residents of the community refused to touch the suspicious red vegetable believing it to be a "Love Potion"concocted by the amorous Frenchmen. The first post office was located on the northeast corner of Tecumseh and Lesperance and was operated by a Mr. Christie. Some of the first businesses in Tecumseh included a lumber mill operated by J.B.Cada; a grocery store operated by Arthur Cecile; a cheese factory on Banwell Road operated by Joseph Breault; a bakery owned by John Dugell; three butcher shops; a canning factory and a brewery eventually closed under Carling Company. In 1921 it was felt that Tecumseh was not getting its fair share of improvements in proportion to the taxes paid to the municipality of Sandwich East. A group of people headed by Malcolm Clapp petitioned the legislature to separate from the township and incorporate as the Town of Tecumseh with a population of 978. Dr. Paul Poisson was appointed as the first mayor of the town.The real growth in Tecumseh occurred in 1931 with the establishment of the Green Giant Factory as Fine Foods of Canada. Green Giant (now Bonduelle) is still located in Tecumseh and continues to employ full and part-time workers.
As the population grew, so did the demands for services. The Ontario Provincial Police started policing the Town in 1948 with 2 officers. In 1922 a fire chief was appointed although no fire department was in existence, the fires were fought by town volunteers.
In 1999, as part of a reorganization of Essex County, Tecumseh was merged with the Village of St. Clair Beach, and the Township of Sandwich South into the Town of Tecumseh. In 2003, the City of Windsor annexed approximately from the Town of Tecumseh. Now considered to be a bedroom community of Windsor, Tecumseh is often cited as an example of urban sprawl; new subdivisions have developed on some of Canada's most valuable agricultural land beginning in the late 1980s.
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 Essex County