Place:Elgin, Ontario, Canada

Coordinates42.7°N 81.3°W
Located inOntario, Canada     (1851 - )
Also located inUpper Canada, Canada     (1792 - 1841)
Canada West, Canada     (1841 - 1867)
See alsoLondon District, Upper Canada, Canadaadministrative distict 1800-1849
Middlesex, Ontario, Canadacounty Elgin was part of 1849-1851

The text in this section is based on an article in Wikipedia.

Elgin County is located in southwestern Ontario. It was established as a county from townships in Middlesex County in 1851 following the abolition of the District system of administrative government in Canada West (later Ontario). The county town is St Thomas.

The map of Elgin 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.


Elgin County was organized as a separate county in 1851 and named after Lord Elgin, the governor-general of Canada. Settlement was first encouraged by Thomas Talbot (1771-1853) who originally came to Canada as personal secretary to John Graves Simcoe in 1791. After returning to England, Talbot convinced the British government to allow him to implement a land settlement scheme along the shore of Lake Erie. Eventually this scheme brought about the settlement of the Townships of Aldborough and Dunwich. As time passed, Talbot placed settlers on lands in Southwold, Yarmouth, Malahide and Bayham townships as well.

Originally Elgin County was once part of a county named Suffolk which was located on the shore of Lake Erie west of Norfolk County. Suffolk County also included the present Middlesex County. Suffolk disappeared from use before 1850.

There were seven townships and two towns (separately incorporated) in 1851, namely

  • Aldborough. In the early days it had a forest of oak, chestnut and black walnut. It was first settled in 1804 as part of the Talbot Settlement. In the county municipal reorganization of 1998 it merged with the Town of West Lorne to become the District Municipality of West Elgin.
  • Bayham was organized for settlement in 1810. It was named from Bayham Abbey in Kent, England.
  • Dunwich was first settled in 1803. During the War of 1812 only twelve families were living there, but in 1817 a company of Selkirk's Highlanders came to settle. The Township is named after a town in Suffolk, England. In 1998 it was reorganized, along with the Town of Dutton into the District Municipality of Dutton/Dunwich.
  • Malahide was organized for settlement in 1810, named for Malahide Castle in Ireland, the former home of Thomas Talbot, patriot of the region.
  • South Dorchester. Although it was surveyed in 1798, it was not settled until 1826. It merged in 1988 with Malahide Township into the Municipality of Malahide.
  • Southwold was opened for settlement in 1797, however the first settler did not arrive until 1809. It was named for a town in Suffolk, England.
  • Yarmouth was surveyed for settlement in 1792 and settled in 1810. In the county reorganization of 1998 it became the District Municipality of Central Elgin.
  • St Thomas is an independently incorporated town or city outside the county administration.
  • Aylmer is an independently incorporated town.

Research Tips

Ontario GenWeb provide a sketchmap of the townships of Elgin County.

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 Elgin County

  • The Elgin Branch of the Ontario Genealogical Society provides an old map of the county and online databases of cemetery transcriptions, vitals, census and newspaper indexes for the county, including a transcription of the 1842 Elgin County census.
  • The Elgin OGS website also includes an online copy of the book Discovering Your Roots in Elgin: A Guide to Genealogical Resources in Elgin County, Ontario, by James L. McCallum, edited by Jean Bircham.
  • There is an extensive collection of Tweedsmuir Histories for Elgin. These were written by members of local Women's Institutes 1925-1947. The above book outlines where they are obtainable.
  • Internet Archive has a large collection of Ontario references and is always worth checking. Enter the town or township in the seach engine.
source: Family History Library Catalog
This page uses content from the English Wikipedia. The original content was at Elgin County. The list of authors can be seen in the page history. As with WeRelate, the content of Wikipedia is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.