Place:Crowland, Welland, Ontario, Canada

Coordinates43°N 79.2°W
Located inWelland, Ontario, Canada     ( - 1970)
See alsoNiagara, Ontario, Canadacounty municipality established 1970

Crowland is a former inland township, bounded on all sides by other Welland townships. Crowland is criss-crossed by a number of railway lines and the Welland Canal. When the Regional Municipality of Niagara was established in 1970, Crowland was amalgamated with its principal town of Welland into the new municipality or town of Welland.

The map of Welland 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.


the text in this section is copied from an article in Wikipedia

The area was settled in 1788 by United Empire Loyalists who had been granted land by the Crown to compensate for losses due to property they left in the British Thirteen Colonies during and after the American Revolutionary War.

Tensions continued between Great Britain and the newly independent United States, and the War of 1812 broke out. On 19 October 1814, Canadian forces led by George Hay, 8th Marquess of Tweeddale, met an American raiding party, numbering approximately nine hundred, near the eastern edge of the present community during the Battle of Cook's Mills. After an intense skirmish, the Americans retreated to Buffalo, New York. Cook's Mills was the second to last engagement of the War of 1812 on Canadian soil.

The First Welland Canal was extended in 1833 to reach Lake Erie and has influenced development of this city ever since. A wooden aqueduct was built to carry the Welland Canal over the Welland River at what is now downtown Welland, and the area became known as simply Aqueduct. A lock to cross from the canal to the river and vice versa was also built. A small shantytown soon developed around the facility, providing essential services in what was a convenient stop-over location for travelers and workers on the canal.

The growing town was later named Merrittsville, after William Hamilton Merritt, the initiator of the Welland Canal project. This name is reflected in the name of the Merrittville Highway (Niagara Road 50), which served as the primary north-south route in central Niagara before the construction of Highway 406. Welland gained its present name when it was incorporated on 25 July 1858. It became a city in 1917.

One of the few railway crossings across the canal was near Welland. Together with the canal, these two factors attracted the development of heavy industry in Welland. In 1906 the Plymouth Cordage Company was the first major industrial company to open a plant in Welland. By the 1930s, Welland was an important industrial city in the region and was developing rapidly.

In the 1960s, the city was starting to outgrow the canal passing through its core. The Welland By-Pass project, started in 1967 and finished in 1973, provided a new, shorter alignment for the Welland Canal by moving it from downtown Welland to the city's outskirts. With the completion of the bypass, Welland's east end (and the former town of Crowland) was like an island between the new and old canal channels.

Residents and businessmen were originally enthusiastic that the canal had been moved from downtown, as its traffic had interfered with transportation within the city. The canal's old alignment was renamed the Welland Recreational Waterway and the city intended to develop several recreational facilities and tourist attractions along its shores. The original plans called for fishing platforms, water slides, and boat rental points, as well as marine and rail historical exhibits.

But the canal relocation had unintended effects; at the same time there was a gradual but steady move of industry out of Welland as part of restructuring in North America, as industry moved offshore to other manufacturing sites. The loss of jobs reduced city and business revenues, resulting in deterioration in downtown Welland in the years immediately after the project. Many businesses relocated to the city's north end, where a retail hub was developing in and around the Seaway Mall.

The City of Welland is working to revitalize the downtown core through an ongoing community improvement plan. Integral to the program is the use of incentives to promote revitalization and redevelopment. A report published by the City of Welland in 2013 said, "for over 10 years now, these programs have produced only very moderate uptake and development since being introduced." Other former industrial cities have grappled with similar painful transitions.

Research Tips

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.

Early Records

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.
Images and indexes of civil registrations for the "viewable" years can be found on paid websites, and indexes only on FamilySearch. The FamilySearch Wiki on Ontario Vital Records explains how these records are organized and their availability.
In September 2014 announced that its paid website has been subjected to a "houseclean" of its Ontario BMD database, adding data that had been omitted and making many corrections. Its provision now includes

  • Births, with 2,172,124 records covering 1869-1913.
  • Marriages, with 3,393,369 records for 1801-1928 including Ontario county, district and Roman Catholic origins as well as province-wide civil registration.
  • Deaths, with 2,190,030 records comprising Ontario civil registrations of deaths, 1869-1938 and registrations of Ontario overseas deaths for 1939-1947.

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 1921. 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.
Other websites, some paid and some free, also provide Canadian census originals and/or indexes online. One can also view censuses on microfilm at the LAC, at the Archives of Ontario (see address above), or at large libraries throughout Canada.

Hard-to-Find Places

E-books, Books and Newspapers

  • The Internet Archive, particularly texts from Canadian universities, can contain interesting material
  • Our Roots is a Canadian website similar to The Internet Archive
  • Global Genealogy is an online bookshop specializing in Ontario material who will ship anywhere in the world.
  • The Ancestor Hunt is a blog listing old Ontario newspapers that are available online, both free and pay websites. This is a very extensive list.

Some websites with more local information on Welland County

  • Niagara GenWeb provides a combined site for Lincoln and Welland. In places it appears to be "under construction" but another click away is a list of early settlers for a township with the date they settled, birthplace, post office address and business. There is also a surname database, a query page, a list of the census microfilms with LAC code numbers (not FamilySearch), a list of cemeteries in the county, biographies of settlers, libraries and county offices, land records, links to family websites and other links.
  • The Niagara Branch of the Ontario Genealogical Society have a list of their publications both online and off- and their research facilities. Niagara Branch will be hosting the OGS annual province-wide conference in 2014.
  • Niagara Falls City Hall has a cemetery search website
  • Willougby Historical Museum appears to be a place to visit.
source: Family History Library Catalog