Place:Midland District, Upper Canada, Canada

NameMidland District
TypeAdministrative region
Located inUpper Canada, Canada     (1792 - 1841)
Also located inCanada West, Canada     (1841 - 1849)
See alsoPrince Edward District, Upper Canada, Canadaadministrative region separated from Midland District in 1831
Victoria District, Upper Canada, Canadaadministrative region separated from Midland District in 1837

Maps of the Early Ontario Districts

The Archives of Ontario provides two Maps of the original Districts of Upper Canada as they were in 1788 before Upper Canada was created and three years later in 1791. Note that the only surveyed townships in 1788 were in Mecklenberg and Lunenburg Districts, but by 1791 there were surveyed townships all around the shore of Lake Ontario, and along the St Lawrence and the Ottawa Rivers.

A further series of maps illustrate the growth of the District system across the province.

The Midland District

The Midland District was called the Mecklenburg District from 1788 to 1792. The district was originally bounded to the east by a line running north from the mouth of the Gananoque River and to the west by a line running north from the mouth of the Trent River. Its southern boundaries were Lake Ontario and the St Lawrence River and the northern boundary was the Ottawa River. The district town was Kingston.

The original counties within the Midland District were Frontenac, Addington, Lennox, Prince Edward, Lanark and Renfrew. Parts of Hastings and Leeds were also included. In 1792 Mecklenburgh was renamed the Midland District. The Midland District retained its original composition until the 1830s. In 1831 Prince Edward County was made into Prince Edward District and in 1837 Hastings County was separated out into another District called Victoria. (At that time Hastings included today’s counties of Victoria and Haliburton). The Midland District was comprised of the counties of Frontenac, Addington and Lennox when it was abolished in 1849.

Ontario Districts: an Explanation

When Upper Canada was formed in 1788 it was immediately divided into four districts: Hesse, Nassau, Mecklenburg and Lunenburg. In 1792 these names were changed to Western, Home, Midland and Eastern respectively. The expansion in population of the province, and in the area settled, obliged the number of Districts to increase. By 1849 there were twenty individual districts, each with a number of counties under its jurisdiction.
After 1841, when the government of Upper Canada was reorganized and the province became known as Canada West, some of the responsibilities of the districts were transferred to local municipal councils in cities and towns (e.g. property tax collecting), although the districts still retained complete control over judicial matters.
From 1788 until 1849 in the area which is now Ontario, the District was the layer of government responsible for all judicial and administrative functions that could be carried out at a level below that of the province itself. Counties existed in the province from 1792, but they were little more than electoral and census divisions.
In 1849 the Districts were abolished and their functions were taken over by the individual counties or by united counties working within one municipal administration.

Most of the government documents the genealogist may require—those dealing with land, the registration of marriages, and minor criminal proceedings--will have been produced by the District before 1849 and by the Counties after that date. Serious land conflicts, or those concerning more than one District, will have found their way into Provincial Records. The same will have been true of criminal matters. Divorce was not even a provincial matter, but a federal one, until 1930.