The farming town was founded by Colonel James Vrooman, who was granted free land here in 1820 for his heroic service in the War of 1812. (The Vrooman family- namely brother Solomon Vrooman's- participation in the Battle of Queenston Heights was vital in the victory for the British over the Americans, as the cannon at Vrooman's Point kept over 4000 American troops from crossing the Niagara River). The son of Dutch settlers James was born here in 1796 at Queenston Heights. He is buried along with his 2 wives at the United Church cemetery at Conc. 7 and Sideroad 17A.
Other early settlers in the village were: Wilson, Glendenning, Oke, Shier, Keenan and Speiran.
The Vroomans played a major role in the village's development. Colonel Vrooman offered land to John Gelbrae to build a grist mill on Vrooman Creek. Prior to this settlers had to walk 14 miles through the forest to the nearest grist mill in Uxbridge, Ontario with wheat bundles strapped to their backs. With the opening of the mills the population increased and soon the village had wooden sidewalks lined with shops
In its heyday the village had the two mills- a sawmill and gristmill, set-up where they dammed up the local Vrooman Creek and made a large pond. There was a school (built 1868), 2 churches, a post office (postmasters: M. McPhaden and N. Bolster), a hotel, 3 stores, a carriage shop, blacksmiths and an Orange Hall. These existed after the town plan was made with a total of 6 streets named: King, Queen, Simcoe, Nelson, Victoria and Brock. At its height the population was about 200.
Unfortunately as the village prospered the railway lines (Toronto and Nipissing Railway) did not come through. Instead, the lines came through at Sunderland, Ontario in 1871. Sunderland was a smaller village at the time, but quickly became the hub of Brock Township, Ontario, leaving Vroomanton to wither. Villagers moved away, buildings were torn down, until only the church, Orange Hall and school remained.
The Catholic Church on the east side of town was called St. Malachy's and was the central Catholic church for all of the former Ontario County (all the way to Uptergrove in the north). It had wooden shingles. An inspector warned the church to change the shingles as they were a fire hazard. On May 14, 1942, while the caretaker was burning leaves, a spark became lodged in a crack in the wooden shingles on the roof of St. Malachy's destroying its structure in a few hours. The story goes that asphalt shingles were purchased and stored in the basement waiting to be put on the roof. The Pastor, Father Toomey and the congregation thought that the damage was too great to repair so no new church was built in its place.
There are some remains of the past in this village. A very old wooden barn still stands rickety as can be on the main road behind some trees. The old school, built in 1868, has been lived in since 1972 at its original location at Queen and King Streets. The old Methodist Church is now a United Church, built in 1909 on the site of a previous wooden church built in 1854. Beside this church is the Vrooman's cemetery. An old wooden home decays beside the creek bridge. Queen Street and King Street are the village's only 2 remaining streets of its original six.
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 Ontario County