Whitby is a town found on the north shore of Lake Ontario between Pickering and Oshawa. Whitby was originally located within the township of the same name, but the township and the town amalgamated in 1968 and the whole township area is now titled the Town of Whitby.
The Town of Whitby was chosen as the seat of government for the newly formed County of Ontario in 1852, and was incorporated as an independently governing town in 1855. It is now home to the headquarters of the Regional Municipality of Durham, the local body governing Durham Region (which has included the better part of Ontario County) since 1974. The population of Whitby in 2011 was more than 122,000.
When the township was originally surveyed in 1792, the surveyor, who was an English immigrant, named the townships of the Home District after towns in northeastern England: York, Scarborough, Pickering, Whitby and Darlington. (The namesake towns in England do not follow the same west-east geographic placement.)
Although settlement dates back to 1800, it was not until 1836 that a downtown business centre was established by Whitby's founder Peter Perry. Whitby's chief asset was its fine natural harbour on Lake Ontario, from which grain from the farmland to the north was first shipped in 1833. In the 1840s a road was built from Whitby Harbour to Lake Simcoe and Georgian Bay, to bring trade and settlement through the harbour to and from the rich hinterland to the north. In the 1870s a railway, the Port Whitby and Port Perry Railway, was constructed from Whitby harbour to Port Perry, and later extended to Lindsay as the "Whitby, Port Perry and Lindsay Railway" or the WPP&LR. It was disbanded in 1939.
The Lynde Creek which flows through Whitby was named after Jabez Lynde (1773-1856), a Quaker from Massachusetts who arrived in the area in 1805 and established a farm on the west branch of the creek.
For more information, see the EN Wikipedia article Whitby, Ontario.
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