Place:Prescott and Russell, Ontario, Canada

NamePrescott and Russell
Alt namesPrescott and Russell United Counties
United Counties of Prescott and Russellsource: Wikipedia
Located inOntario, Canada
Also located inUpper Canada, Canada     (1792 - 1841)
Canada West, Canada     (1841 - 1867)
See alsoEastern District, Upper Canada, Canadaadministrative district 1792-1816
Ottawa District, Upper Canada, Canadaadministrative district 1816-1849
Prescott, Ontario, CanadaCounty from which Prescott-Russell formed
Russell, Ontario, CanadaCounty from which Prescott-Russell formed

The United Counties of Prescott and Russell are "consolidated" or united counties located in the Canadian province of Ontario. The county seat is L'Orignal, Ontario. A substantial part of the United Counties are French-speaking.

The two counties were originally (1792) the northern sections of Glengarry and Stormont Counties to the south west. At that time the entire area, including Carleton County to the north east. was governed locally as the Eastern District of Upper Canada. In 1816 Prescott and Russell were made counties separate from Stormont and Glengarry, and the Eastern District was divided into two with Prescott, Russell and Carleton Counties being given the name Ottawa District because they faced the Ottawa River. The slow growth of population in the region resulted in a merger between the counties in 1822. This unification has continued even when District administration was abolished in favour or county administration in 1849. However, the counties have never been given a single name and there is a definite border between them.

In 1969 Cumberland Township became part of the Regional Municipality of Ottawa-Carleton, and is now part of the single-tier city of Ottawa.

Archives of Ontario provide a map of Prescott County and a map of Russell County to locate the individual towns and villages. These maps are circa 1951.

Original Townships (arranged basically east to west)

Municipalities since reorganization in 1997

  • Alfred and Plantagenet (township): the amalgamation of Alfred Township, Alfred Village, North Plantagenet Township, and Plantagenet Village. All in Russell County.
  • Casselman (municipality): surrounded on all sides by The Nation, since Casselman citizens refused to join the fusion of municipalities. Casselman is located in Russell County.
  • Champlain (township): the amalgamation of Hawkesbury West Township, Longueuil Township, Town of Vankleek Hill, and the Village of L'Orignal. All in Prescott County.
  • Clarence-Rockland (city): amalgamation of the Town of Rockland with Clarence Township, located adjacent to the City of Ottawa. All in Russell County.
  • East Hawkesbury (township): as above. All in Prescott County.
  • Hawkesbury (town): formerly in Hawkesbury West Township. In Prescott County.
  • Russell (township): as above. In Russell County.
  • The Nation (municipality): consists of the former geographic townships of Caledonia, Cambridge and South Plantagenet. Townships from both Russell and Prescott Counties.

A diagrammatic map from Wikipedia illustrates the new divisions of Prestcott and Russell.

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 Prescott and Russell Counties

  • The Prescott GenWeb pages include details from Lovell's Directories of 1851 and 1871, descriptions of the original townships made in 1896, as well as descriptions of the presents towns (= municipalities), and a list of Prescott County families being researched. The map page is very interesting. There is a list of published books.
  • The publications of the Ottawa Branch of the Ontario Genealogical Society include transcriptions of cemeteries in Prescott and Russell Counties.
  • Internet Archive has a large collection of Ontario references and is always worth checking. Enter the town or township in the seach engine.