Place:Niagara District, Upper Canada, Canada

NameNiagara District
TypeAdministrative region
Located inUpper Canada, Canada     (1798 - 1841)
Also located inCanada West, Canada     (1841 - 1849)
See alsoHome District, Upper Canada, Canadaregion administering the same territory prior to 1798
Lincoln, Ontario, Canadacounty within the Niagara District (1800-1850)
Haldimand, Ontario, Canadacounty within the Niagara District (1800-1850)
Welland, Ontario, Canadacounty within the Niagara District (1845-1850)
Contained Places
Ancaster (township) ( 1802 - 1816 )
Barton ( 1802 - 1816 )
Binbrook (township) ( 1802 - 1816 )
Glanford ( 1802 - 1850 )
Saltfleet ( 1802 - 1816 )
Much of the information in this article has been gathered from Ontario GenWeb and The Archives of Ontario online article: The Changing Shape of Ontario

Niagara District was established in 1800 from the Home District. Only eight years after its formation, the Home District administration found itself with a much larger territory and population than it could cope with. The original Niagara District covered the present the present County of Lincoln, most of the present County of Haldimand, and eight townships then attached to the north of Haldimand which later formed Wentworth County. The original Haldimand County also included the County of Welland which was not made a separate county until 1845 (see below). Newark, which had previously been the Home District’s administrative centre, became the administrative centre for Niagara Region. Newark was renamed Niagara and would later become Niagara-on-the-Lake.

In 1816, parts of the Niagara District and parts of the Home District were separated to form the Gore District. This was when the townships in the northern part of Haldimand were cut away to form part of Wentworth.

In 1826 Norfolk County (then in the Talbot District) yielded its four easternmost townships (Seneca, Oneida, Rainham, and Walpole) to Haldimand.

In 1845 Welland County was separated from Haldimand County but continued to be under the administration of Niagara District until the Districts were abolished in 1849. Immediately after the districts were abolished the area was named the United Counties of Lincoln, Welland and Haldimand. The three counties each formed individual administrations within the next few years.

The Archives of Ontario has produced a series of maps illustrating the growth of the District system across the province. Each map ought to be expanded to its maximum size in order to benefit from the information it contains. Return to the collection using the "back" button on your browser.

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.