Place:Welland, Ontario, Canada

Coordinates43°N 79.2°W
Located inOntario, Canada     (1845 - 1970)
Also located inUpper Canada, Canada     (1792 - 1841)
Canada West, Canada     (1841 - 1867)
See alsoHome District, Upper Canada, Canadaadministrative district 1792-1800
Niagara District, Upper Canada, Canadaadministrative district 1800-1850
Niagara, Ontario, Canadacounty municipality which replaced Welland County in 1970

This article is based on Wikipedia and also on various articles in Ontario GenWeb

Welland County is an historic county in the Canadian province of Ontario. The county was established from sections of Lincoln and Haldimand in 1845, but until 1851 continued to be unified with them, first as the Niagara District, and then from 1849 onwards as the Unified Counties of Lincoln, Welland and Haldimand.

The county was named after the Welland River which, in turn, had been named by John Graves Simcoe after a stream in Lincolnshire, England. Niagara Falls, and the townships surrounding it were among the earliest settlements in Upper Canada.

The most significant thing in the history of Welland County was the building of the Welland Canal and the canal's effect on transportation since its completion. Niagara Falls made the Niagara River impassible to shipping, yet there was a great impetus to get goods from the inland of Canada down to Lake Ontario and onward to the ports on the St Lawrence River.

The first Welland Canal was completed in 1829 and during the 19th century two further canal improvement projects took place. A third occurred between 1913 and 1932. The steepness of the Niagara Escarpment obliged the building of 26 locks on the final canal of the 19th century which were reduced to eight in the 20th century Welland Ship Canal.
For more information on the Welland Canal, see Wikipedia.

In 1970, Lincoln and Welland Counties were amalgamated to form the Regional Municipality of Niagara. NOTE: In some census and election records from the late 19th century, the townships of Pelham and Wainfleet (which can be seen on the map below) were enumerated as part of Monck County. However, Monck never existed as a county in the political sense, but only as an electoral district.

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.

Historic Townships

  • Bertie Township: Area 34,486 acres (139.56 km2), facing Lake Erie and the Niagara River. Organized in 1784. Named in honour of Peregrine Bertie, 3rd Duke of Ancaster and Kesteven. Population centres: Fort Erie, Bridgeburg and Ridgeway.
  • Crowland Township: Area 18,871 acres (76.37 km2), bounded by other Welland townships on all sides. Organized in 1788 and named from an ancient town in Lincolnshire. Veterans of Butler's Rangers were the first settlers. Population centre: Welland.
  • Humberstone Township: area 29,477 acres (119.29 km2), facing Lake Erie between Bertie and Wainfleet. Opened in 1787 and named for the Lincolnshire town.
  • Pelham Township: Area 23,394 acres (94.67 km2), the most northwest of Welland's townships. Opened in 1790 and named in honor of the Duke of Newcastle; Pelham is one half the family name of Pelham-Clinton. Population centres: Fonthill, North Pelham, Ridgeville, and Fenwick.
  • Stamford Township: Area 20,876 acres (84.48 km2), facing the Niagara River at Niagara Falls. Opened in 1784 under the name of Mount Dorchester. John Graves Simcoe changed the name in 1792 honouring an old town in Lincolnshire. Population centres: Niagara Falls (first called Clifton), Drummondville and Stamford.
  • Thorold Township: Area 21,853 acres (88.44 km2), on the north boundary of the county between Stamford and Pelham. Settled by Butler's Rangers in 1784, but officially set apart in 1788. Named in honour of Sir John Thorold, Member of Parliament for Lincolnshire (1734–1815). Population centres: Thorold, St. John's, Allenburg, Port Robinson.
  • Wainfleet Township: Area 49,805 acres (201.55 km2), facing Lake Erie between Humberstone and Haldimand County. Opened in 1798 and named after a town in the Lincolnshire fens. Population centre: Marshville.
  • Willoughby Township: Area 18,711 acres (75.72 km2), facing the Niagara River between Stamford and Bertie. Opened in 1787 and named after an English village.

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.
This page uses content from the English Wikipedia. The original content was at Welland County, Ontario. 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.
source: Family History Library Catalog