This page follows the main heading page, “Origins” and is basically a review of Wilmot Township’s history from prehistoric times to the present. In point form summary, the story of ‘occupation‘ or ‘territorial dominance‘ or ‘ownership‘ in Wilmot Township is as follows:

  • Pre-Paleo People Period – 17000 – 12000 BC
  • Paleo/Clovis People Period – 12000 – 8000 BC
  • Archaic People Period – 8000 – 3000 BC
  • Early Woodland People Period – 3000 BC – 200 BC
  • Middle Woodland People Period – 200 BC – 500 AD
  • Later Woodland People Period – 500 AD – 1000 AD
  • Mississippian People Period – 1000 – 1500 AD
  • Exploratory Period – 1500 – 1670 AD
    • Huron-Wendat – 1500 AD
    • Neutrals (Attawandaron) / between Huron-Wendat and Haudenosaunee – about 1500
  • Historic Period – 1600 – Present
    • 1651 – the Neutrals were attacked, villages destroyed and culturally eliminated by the Iroquois Confederacy (Haudenosaunee Mississaugas) ,
    • 1792 – British Crown bought 3 million acres from Mississaugas, “Between the Lakes Treaty” – (Wilmot was never in dispute as it was outside the Haldimand grant which is still in dispute and thus became Crown Land)
    • 1791 – Constitutional Act (Canada Act) created Upper Canada and surveys of Townships
    • 1824 – government surveys created ‘lots’
    • 1828 – Canada Land Company assumed responsibility for selling lots
    • 1840 – District of Wellington includes Wilmot Township
    • 1845 – Wilmot Township is now within Waterloo Region
    • 1849 – Baldwin Act – Municipal Government
    • 1850, January 21 – Wilmot Township has its first Council
Any “territorial acknowledgement” should start with the recognition of the traditional territory of the Pre-Paleo Peoples (17000 years ago) and include, up to and including the present, each and every one of the inhabitants of Wilmot Township.
The Webmaster of this site takes the position that we need to:
  •  discover all those who came before us, and who are here with us now on this land area – Wilmot Township.
  • learn about our predecessors’ lifeways/culture (how they each fed, clothed, housed themselves, language, religion, social structures).
  • discover who subsequently replaced each predecessor, how or why.
  • recognize that the total land area belongs to all of us, but some of us “own” deeded parts of it that others cannot “take” away.
  • “teach the history” so the experiences of each of us are known to all, interpreted in the context of when those events occurred, and discussed in the context of present values. ALL our experiences need to be displayed and taught to all of us.
  • not be afraid of our history, not to deny it, not to hide it away in storage, not to belittle it, insult it, vandalize it, desecrate it.
  • learn from our history and not repeat the “bad” parts.
  • move forward together, for “Together, We Are Better!”


How we move forward to discuss what information is factual, how we synthesize facts into concepts that we can act on – together – is often determined by “How we see the information!”.
For example, everyone can agree that the disc above is SPINNING. BUT how we “see it” determines our conclusion regarding, “WHICH DIRECTION IS IT SPINNING?” Some will see it as spinning clockwise, and others will see it as spinning counter-clockwise.
However, if we stop focussing on only one spot in the centre, only seeing it from one position – our fixed position – we will eventually be able to “see it” as spinning in either direction we “want it to”. [Put your finger at a red spot at the top of the circle and follow it with your finger from left to right in a circle = going clockwise. Then put your finger at a red spot and follow it around the circle from right to left = counter-clockwise. Now try doing it without your finger, and only your brain as the guide.]
Our task as citizens living in Wilmot is to “see” any issues as possibly spinning in more than one direction, and we need to try to put ourselves into each other’s “position/point-of-view”. We can resolve issues democratically, respectfully and with an assumption that we not only have “freedoms from”, but also “responsibilities to”.
Freedom is not free. The cost of our “freedoms” is the counter-balancing “responsibilities to” all others with whom we share this space
  • We need not be afraid of our shared history, not to deny it, not to hide it away in storage, not to belittle it, insult it, vandalize it, desecrate it.

Wilmot Township is a Place

The story of human life in Wilmot Township, as we have seen after clicking on the dropdown heading “Origins” page, began over 17,000 years ago after glacial ice melted and retreated. Since that time the area of southwestern Ontario had been inhabited, at different time ‘periods’ by subsequent groups of people whose ‘lifeways’ changed. In this context, “place” is an ‘association’ concept. A specific place or location was an area ‘associated’ with the ‘lifeway’/culture of the group that occupied that location/region at some point in time. For example, Wilmot Township was a place where Palaeo-Indian Culture/Lifeway was evident in prior times.

We now name ‘places‘ based on what we know about who was doing what, in that region, at a specific point in time. We put names onto places because that’s what we do with ‘recorded/written’ history. The ‘places’ and the people of that ‘lifeway’ obviously existed at a geographical location before written history.

The knowledge we have about the peoples’ lifeways in specific regions is a result of research such as is done by archaeologists, geneticists, etc. We also have some recent written evidence from early visitors from Europe, mostly in journals by Jesuit priests. There are stories of places and people before modern written records. They were anecdotal histories passed down from voice to voice by the native people themselves.

There is archaeological evidence that indicates the movement of ‘lifeway’ groups/tribes, before written history, to demonstrate where genetically aligned groups appeared. The descendants of these people/tribes have no memory of these past events hundreds or thousands of years past, and in many cases have only relatively recently reformed alliances with ‘common ancestors, now located in distant places, using the data of modern scientists. The descendants of the ‘Neutrals‘ are examples.

A ‘place’ was where a ‘lifeway’ occurred. The evolution of ‘lifeways’ in southern Ontario transitioned from hunters and fishers (Early Paleo) to hunters and gatherers (Late Paleo), to hunters-gatherers-seasonal camps (Early-Middle-Late Archaic), to hunters-gathers-seasonal camps with pottery/maize/villages (Early-Middle-Late Woodland), to Post Contact.

Estimated Population Before European Contacts

Agriculture gradually spread northward from the Mississippi River Valley into the region occupied by the Iroquian-speaking tribes south of Lake Erie in the New York region, the Hurons who lived south of Georgian Bay, the Tobacco Nation or Petuns to the west, and the Attiwandaronk or Neutrals along the north shore of Lake Erie (Wilmot). The Iroquois cultivated corn, beans, squash, and sunflowers, and the Petuns also grew tobacco. semi-permanent villages developed using a slash-and-burn technique which required moving every eight to twelve years to areas where the soil was not depleted of nutrients. Residing for several years in one spot led to the construction of large ‘longhouses’, 25 feet wide and up to 100 feet long that accommodated about 5 families. Large villages could have up to 100 longhouses with up to 3,000 people. Smaller villages were more common as a large area of open land was needed to cultivate and support a large population, supplemented by hunting and fishing.

The climate and proximity to arable land and fishing and hunting. The seasonal cycles for farming and hunting were different, and whichever food source dominated determined the population’s seasonal cycles. The land was cultivated with each family having its plot as large as it could cultivate, and unused land was held ‘in common’. Land did not confer wealth or status as in Europe. Hoarding was discouraged and ceremonies evolved to facilitate sharing.

Barter/trade was conducted with neighbouring tribes, and goods could be passed from tribe to tribe with items travelling great distances from source to final user. The agriculturists fought with one another through blood feuds or ritual warfare before the Europeans arrived. This inter-tribal warfare often led to the loss of tribal members. These became feuds to ‘steal’ women and young warriors that had to be replaced to maintain the viability of the tribe. There was some competition to control the flow of some valued goods such as the flint used in arrowheads from north of Georgian Bay to the south. After Europeans arrived and introduced the trade in furs warfare between the Iroquois of New York, armed by European traders, and those tribes in what is now Ontario increased dramatically.

Before Europeans arrived in North America tribal groups were aligned with peoples in different locations through trade.

In southern Ontario, it appears that the subsequent sequence of ‘occupying’ groups in the Wilmot area was as follows.

  1. Huron-Wendat about 1500 A.D., occupied territory north of Lake Ontario and the Bay of Quinte area.
  2. Neutrals (Attawandaron) about 1500 A.D.. occupied territory in the Hamilton-Niagara area, into western New York and north of Lake Erie in south-western Ontario.
  3. Iroquois Confederacy (Haudenosaunee) occupied territory south of Lakes Ontario and Erie. They went to war with the Huron-Wendat, and the Neutrals to control trade with European fur traders. The Haudenosaunee (1649-1651) attacked and destroyed Neutral villages. The Haudenosaunee culturally destroyed the Neutral Nation and replaced them in the ex-Neutral territory.
  4. The British Crown negotiated the “Between the Lakes” treaty No. 3 with the Mississauga (Haudenosaunee) and got access to 3 million acres of land. Wilmot was purchased.

Huron-Wendat vs Haudenosaunee (Seneca)

The Haudenosaunee had lost many members from disease epidemics. Their women’s councils advised clan members to replace their lost through warfare. The council of Haudenosaunee warriors saw this as an opportunity to “extend the rafters of the longhouse” by absorbing neighbouring groups. According to Jesuit missionary, Father Joques, in the Relations, the plan was to kill all the important Neutrals (chiefs and warriors) as well as most of the rest of the men and absorb the women and young children. The Hurons had been displaced by the Iroquoians to Mackinac, to Huronia to the northeast and farther east to the French-controlled area along the St. Lawrence River area to Montreal and Québec. The rest were absorbed by the Haudenosaunee.  [Some of this information is from Jesuit Relations – written and native oral sources.]

Between 1642 and 1646, the Haudenosaunee dispersed the Algonquians from the Ottawa Valley and attacked eastern Huron-Wendat villages. In 1648-1649, using arms traded from the Dutch, the Haudenosaunee defeated and dispersed the Huron-Wendat. They did the same to the Petun in 1649-1650, and the Neutral in 1651. They defeated the Erie nation by 1656. During these wars with the Haudenosaunee, the post-epidemic population of the Huron-Wendat was decimated by half.

It is estimated that 3,000 Huron-Wendat were absorbed into the Haudenosaunee culture, with the Seneca, during and after the war. About 1,000 fled in 1649 to join the Jesuits on Christian Island in Georgian Bay, but due to famine and cold only 300 were left in the spring of 1650, who went to Ile d’Orléans at Québec.

Peace negotiations in 1656-1657 resulted in the remnants of the Huron-Wendat being absorbed by the Haudenosaunee (Mohawk), except for a few who left Ile d’Orléans for Sillery and then to Lorette where the descendants still live. There is presently a Huron-Wendat First Nation in Wendake, Quebec.

Also, a group of Huron-Wendat who were “anti-Haudenosaunee” fled to the Petun in 1649, and with them subsequently to Michilimackinac, and Green Bay where they were attacked by Dakota Sioux. By 1671 they were back at Michilimackinac and finally settled at Detroit (established in 1701) in 1704. There are a few Huron-Wendat / Wyandot descendants who have returned to the Windsor area. Others ended up first in Kansas and then moved by the Americans to Oklahoma.

As a result of the Haudenosaunee wars of decimation and absorption, there is no Huron-Wendat culture remaining in Waterloo Region.

Neutral vs Haudenosaunee (Seneca)

The Neutral Nation was first mentioned in written history in the Jesuit Relations and by Samuel de Champlain in 1615. This Nation existed between where the Huron-Wendat and Haudenosaunee / Iroquois were located and were defined as Neutral because “they are at peace and remain neutral”. The Neutral were located west of Lake Ontario, and “two days south of the Petun” tribe. It is reported that the Neutral called themselves the Chonnonton, “the people who tend or manage deer”. They were the largest Indigenous society in the Eastern Woodlands with about 40,000 people in the early 1600s, and an army of 4-6,000 warriors. Due to disease, there were only about 12,000 Neutral remaining in 1641.

Petun is from the French word pétun, which translates as Tobacco people. The Petun, or Tionontati, (“People among the Hills”), were an Iroquoian tribe living just south of Georgian Bay.

As of 1641 Father, Jerome Lalemont confirmed that the Neutral still occupied the area where Wilmot now is and that they each referred to the other as “Atti8andaronk” which means “Peoples of a slightly different language”.

1647 is the first recorded date of an attack by the Haudenosaunee (Seneca) on a Neutral town. Father Paul Ragueneau indicated that it was to avenge one man’s death and in retaliation, 1,650 captives were taken – which was a major decimation of its population. In autumn 1650 and spring 1651 the Iroquois (Seneca) returned and destroyed and depopulated two Neutral villages. In 1651 Father Paul Ragueneau recorded,

“Great was the carnage, especially among the old people and the children, who would not have been able to follow the Iroquois to their country. The number of captives was exceedingly large, – especially of young women, whom they reserve, in order to keep up the population of their own villages. This loss was very great, and entailed the complete ruin and desolation of the Neutral nation; the inhabitants of their other villages, which were more distant from the enemy, took fright, abandoned their houses, their property and their country; and condemned themselves to voluntary exile… Famine pursued these poor fugitives everywhere, and compels them to scatter through the woods and over the more remote lakes and rivers, to find some relief from the misery that keeps pace with them”.

The surviving populations of the two destroyed Neutral villages were therefore incorporated into the Iroquois/Seneca. The Neutral culture was lost and its people were assimilated into the Haudenosaunee / Iroquois culture. The Neutral became Haudenosaunee. There are numerous documents that Iroquois considered anyone accepted into or living within the Iroquois were Iroquois.

Archaeological finds at Elora (Waterloo Region) have been interpreted as being left by Neutral refugees fleeing after 1651 to find and join remnants of the Hurons. That route was via the Grand River, overland portages to the Thames River, and then to southern Michigan. This group became the Senecas of Sandusky, not because they were Seneca but because they were under Seneca jurisdiction. In 1653 there were 800 Neutrals at Sken’chio,e in southern Michigan. By this time the migrating Petun-Huron western Wyandots were in Wisconsin, not Mackinac. After this, the Neutrals were not heard of again as an independent tribe. They had been ‘absorbed/assimilated. As a result of the Haudenosaunee wars of decimation and absorption, there is no Neutral culture remaining in Waterloo Region. There are some Neutral descendants in the Region, by genetic analysis, but those individuals have no memory of a Neutral culture.

When the number of Hurons, Petuns and then the Neutrals and other tribes became too large to be absorbed into Seneca villages they were given their own partial or whole villages in Seneca territory. Some were placed in Ohio but were ‘dependent on the Seneca dwelling on Seneca lands under the jurisdiction of their conquerors’.

By 1657 the Seneca had incorporated eleven different tribes and had become the largest and most important/influential tribe in the Iroquois Confederacy League. The Seneca gained two more Chiefs on the Iroquois Confederacy Council. The strategy of ‘prisoners of war’ from neighbouring tribes had been effective.

Although prisoners, the captives were given degrees of freedom of movement and it is recorded that by 1668 more than 200 persons from the Iroquois country had been educated at the Huron mission at Québec. In 1671 a village of “Iroquois” Christians housed Iroquois, Hurons, Andastes and Neutrals.

By the time the colonists were pushing westward south of the Great Lakes, the Seneca had let the subject tribes fend for themselves as independent nations and the Seneca focussed on how to fend off the colonial intrusions. These now independent tribes did not fare well against the larger numbers of newcomers settling the lands.


The Pétun were close to Georgian Bay, the Neutral were along the north coast of Lake Erie, and other Haudenosaunee / Iroquoian tribes were located south of Lake Erie, and east but south of Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River.

Saugeen Ojibway

Today the Saugeen Ojibway Nation (also known as the Chippewas of Saugeen Ojibway (Anishinaabe) Territory) has territory in the region of the Bruce Peninsula.  Though predominantly Ojibway, there was a large influx of ‘refugees’ from the south and west forced off their territory by the American forces after the War of 1812.  People came from Ohio, New York State, Michigan, and Wisconsin. Thus the descendants of the Chippewas of Saugeen Ojibway Territory are members of the Council of Three Fires with ancestry traced to the Ojibway, Odawa and Potawatomi people. The ‘Council of Three Fires’ fought against the incursions of the southern Iroquoians, but they peacefully shared this territory with the Wyandotte/Wendat nation who also lived in this region.

Because there was so much movement of various tribal groupings after the American War for Independence, the War of 1812, and the ‘American Indian Removal Policies in the 1830s there is much ‘mixing’ in the history of any particular ‘place’. It appears that a ‘place’ belongs to those who occupy it – wherever they may have “originated”.

The largest pool of Neutral blood and genetic tracing today is among the Six Nations Iroquois, particularly the Seneca. Some Senecas went with Joseph Brant to Ontario in 1784. Many stayed in New York. Some memories of ancestral origins remained at that time. They knew that Joseph Brant was a descendant of Wyandot prisoners adopted by the Mohawks through both parents.

If the Seneca who chose to move to Ontario knew they were of Neutral ancestry, intentionally returning to their Neutral homeland, then those memories are now reported as lost among the Seneca of the Grand River, and so too is the ancient ‘Neutral’ identity itself.

[Source: Wyandotte Nation, Abler]

The Royal Proclamation of 1763

The Seven Years’ War (1756-1763) was fought between the French and The British to determine control of North America. The battles in North America ended in 1759 at the Battle of Québec in which General Wolfe defeated General Montcalm, and was wrapped up in 1760 with the British defeat of the French at Montreal (see Haldimand on this site). The Treaty of Paris ended the war on a macro scale in Europe, and The Royal Proclamation of 1763 dealt with issues in North America.

As the “winners” of the war, the British wanted more power in North America than the French (who, like the Native People were still here), and they wanted the French to become like them.

IRONY: The British wanted to “assimilate” French to become “English”, just as European settlers wanted the natives to become assimilated, and the Iroquois had assimilated the Neutrals before all of them.

The Royal Proclamation’s terms provided that:

  • the French were to now use British Common Law instead of French Civil Law,
  • French-speaking citizens found it very difficult to get important jobs in government,
  • to get any job in government a Catholic had to swear loyalty to the British King.


  • the French did not want to become British (they liked their language, culture, traditions, Catholic faith,
  • the seigneurial system of landholding was abolished,
  • very few settlers moved from Britain to North America and the British were outnumbered.

Note: Wilmot is in “Indian Reserve” territory as of 1763.

The British government wanted to ‘appease’ the native people onto whose lands European settlers had been imposing. Thus, The Proclamation of 1763 map was a ‘line’ drawn to separate the natives’ lands from settlers – a kind of “Do Not Cross” line. The area of Québec and Nova Scotia was British now. The Hudson Bay Company lands were controlled by a British company. The area to the west and outside the settlement lands of the colonies was reserved as Native lands.

  • Settlers were to stay east of the line which followed the ‘height of land’,
  • Traders in native lands were to be licensed and regulated by the British administration to prevent criminals and fugitives from entering native lands,
  • the terms were agreed to by all parties, BUT it was not formalized,
  • white settlements continued to grow, and settlers, traders, speculators and hunters continued to impose on native lands to the interior because the British administrators were not given sufficient funds by the home British office to enforce the terms for superintendents, garrisons for forts and gifts for native allies,
  • in 1768 the British Board of Trade returned control of British-Native trade to the colonial governments as the colonies did not want to pay Britain for the services,
  • British garrison forts were left ‘in limbo’ in the native territory and there was native resistance to their presence,
  • land investors were upset and wanted access to native lands (Virginia especially as a prior charter had granted them land from sea to sea),
  • a treaty conference in 1768, at Fort Stanwix, New York, “induced” the Iroquois to cede huge areas of hunting land on the Ohio River, belonging to the Shawnee, Delaware and Cherokee. These lands had never been occupied by the Iroquois and had no ‘authority’ to make such a treaty agreement,
  • a rush inland resulted in Virginians killing natives in the Ohio territory.

The Québec Act of 1774

  • allowed French Catholics to get good government jobs,
  • allowed the French to practice Civil Law,
  • granted more authority to the Catholic Church (could collect tithes),
  • re-established the seigneurial system,
  • pleased the French and thus they did not rebel against the smaller-numbered British,
  • did not recognize the Native territories that had NOT BEEN CEDED by treaty by the Native Peoples – just divided the map among European powers,
  • angered Americans as it prevented settlers from entering the Ohio River region,
  • placed some tax responsibilities on colonial settlers (which the Americans thought ‘intolerable’)

Note: Wilmot is in the ‘Province of Québec’ as of 1774

Native People and the American ‘Revolution’

The American War for Independence had severe consequences on Native People south and north of the Great Lakes and some of whom would eventually end up in Waterloo Region and impact Wilmot.

Prior to American Independence, Britain was unable to control, i.e., impose its authority on the territory it was claiming: the map + above acquired Spanish Colonies. This was a huge land area in which Native People, speculative land companies, settlers, aggressive colonial governors and Indian agents were in constant disagreement.

 Overview Causes:

Overview Results:

  • native dislocation,
  • land cession,
  • ethnic cleansing,
  • cultural destruction,
  • inter-tribal warfare,
  • fragmentation of formerly powerful Leagues (Iroquois, Haudenosaunee),
  • the conflict between tribal elders and young warriors,
  • Native people fighting to preserve their hunting grounds, traditions, religions and values,
  • Native tribes who wanted to stay neutral in the American Revolution were compelled to ‘pick a side’ to keep access to trade goods and protection of their territory. (Americans were short on supplies and were less able to bribe native tribes to support them, and failed to keep American settlers from encroaching on Native lands. Americans were poorly disciplined and murdered a Neutral Delaware Chief (White Eyes) and a Shawnee Chief (Cornstalk).

In 1778 Chief White Eyes helped lead an American incursion against Detroit, but the Delawares turned against the Americans and supported a pro-British Chief Pipe. Some Delaware went to Fort Pitt, others to the upper Sandusky River area, leaving others isolated. These residuals were slaughtered by the American militia. American Colonel Crawford attacked the Delaware and Wyandotte at Sandusky but was defeated.

Shawnee Chief Cornstalk’s murder led most of the Shawnees to join the British while others tried to stay neutral, but the Shawnees were subsequently mauled by Bowman & Clark’s expeditions. This injury led the Shawnee to join Tecumseh at the Battle of the Thames in 1813 during the War of 1812.

As native tribes found themselves supporting different ‘sides’ the result was factionalism that divided the Iroquois, Mohawks, Onondagas, Cayugas, and the Seneca fought Oneidas and Tuscaroras.

When Native tribes fought for their own survival and attacked American settlements the propaganda call of “Indian Massacres” caused major, emotionally motivated reprisals on Native people.

The war gave settlers a rationale for further incursions onto native territory, while American military forts became ‘targets of war’ for the natives. Mohawk Chief Brant and his Loyalist allies almost destroyed the New York and Pennsylvania backcountry – which had supplied the American Continental Army with grain and cattle. Hundreds were killed by Joseph Brant’s forces.

George Washington demanded the total destruction of the Iroquois and the burning of all their settlements, crops, orchards, and food stores. General Sullivan was sent to execute the order (1779-80). One incident is known as the Battle of Newtown. It was a region where the native lifestyle was much better than the white farmers’ as the natives had all necessary household utensils, great supplies of grain, a variety of vegetables, horses, cows and wagons. The Haudenosaunee territory was devastated. The winter was terrible and starving Iroquois went to Fort Niagara which was a burden on British supplies there. With warriors away fighting they could not hunt nor clear fields and they became more dependent on British supplies. But still, the Iroquois continued to raid for their survival.

In revenge, Chief Brant led raids against the Oneida and Tuscarora. The Oneida went to Schenectady for American protection. The Iroquois League of Nations had been broken. It was tribe against tribe now.

The war between Britain and the American colonies was settled with the Treaty of Paris of 1783. It completely neglected any of the interests of the native peoples in North America. After the Treaty of Paris Britain established reserves in Canada. 1) Many Mohawks went to the Bay of Quinte area. 2) Those who stayed south of the border saw their reserves shrink, they became dependent upon the new American government, and despair led to much alcoholism. Native lands, customs, values, and regions were under siege by a government that wanted the natives to cease to exist as independent cultures. 3) Many Mohawks, and any other tribes who wanted to accompany them, followed Chief Brant to the Grand River in Ontario.

The Story of Chief Joseph Brant – Thayendanegea [Click]

After the American War for Independence, the Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) Mohawks in New York state south of Lake Erie were displaced and were granted land by the British Crown along the Grand River. This was called the Haldimand Tract. The Haldimand Treaty of October 25, 1784, granted about 950,000 acres of land to the “Mohawk Nation and such others of the Six Nations Indians as wish to settle in that Quarter”. The land extended from the mouth of the Grand River to its source (a spot still under dispute) and extended for 10 km (6 miles) on each side of the river.

The two maps indicate that Wilmot Township was west of the border of the Haldimand Treaty Grant. [See Haldimand on this site.]

Canada Act – 1791

The Canada Act, also known as The Constitutional Act, 1791, received Royal assent on June 10, 1791, and came into effect on December 26th. It was intended to recognize the population increase in ‘the province of Québec’, and the need to divide the territory to reflect the different populations creating Upper Canada (Ontario) and Lower Canada (Québec).

It had four objectives:

  1. guarantee the same rights and privileges as other subjects in British North America,
  2. give colonial assemblies the right to levy taxes to pay for local civil and legal administration, (take the load off the British Treasury),
  3. to legalize the division of Québec into two separate colonies (Upper and Lower Canada) and provide separate legislatures,
  4. to enforce the political dependency of the Canadas on Britain;
    • the governor (Governor-General) had increased authority and was a representative of the Crown, not a colony
    • each colony’s elected assembly had limited powers with the creation of independent legislative councils that were appointed [These became the Chateau Clique in Lower Canada and the Family Compact in Upper Canada, and set the stage for future rebellions.]


  • Land ownership in Lower Canada continued under the Seigneurial System and created Crown and Clergy reserves in Upper Canada. The seigneurial system kept large areas along rivers in the hands of single owners and it was subdivided as tenant/rental holdings with payments to the ‘seigneur’. The clergy reserves were 1/7 of all land areas and were “reserved” for ‘the clergy’, i.e. the Protestant Church of England, which could then lease or sell the property to support itself.
  • Immigrants from Britain were encouraged to keep moving west into English Upper Canada.
  • The government was not ‘responsible’ to the citizen voters as more financial power was given to the appointed body than to the elected assemblies.
  • Voters in Upper Canada were: 21+, ‘natural citizens’ of the monarch, owned land of a certain value or paid rent. Thus, women could vote if they owned property.
  • Women in Lower Canada had rights as inherited from French law (Coutume de Paris) and thus could only vote if they independently owned land or after their husband died and left her 1/2 the property. In 1849 a woman’s right to vote was removed in Lower Canada.

Crown and Clergy Reserves in Upper Canada – Ontario

The Canada Act of 1791 set aside land within each Township to provide revenue by sale or lease to finance ‘government’ and for ‘the Church of England’. Upper Canada was surveyed in different areas at different times to create Townships of ten miles square.

  • 1 Township 10 miles square = 63,600 statute acres (25,739 ha.)
  • 1 Township was divided into 12 concessions
  • 1 concession had 27 lots, each having 200 acres (81 ha.) #1-26 above along each side except,
  • the last lot per concession had only 100 acres (40.5 ha.) #27 above
  • 1/7th of all land per Township was reserved for the Crown or Clergy = 18,171 acres (7,354 ha.)
  • Reserve lands were set out in a checkerboard pattern across each Township in an attempt to “average out” the value of each lot

The theory was, the green lots above would be “sold” or “granted” and the red and blue would be “sold” or “leased”. In reality, military officers or people with political influence in high places were “granted” free land, quite often in large amounts of multiple lots as a form of ‘pension’ or reward for service. [An ensign or lieutenant got 500 acres, a captain got 800 acres, majors got 1,000 acres.] These lots would usually then be sold quite cheaply to others. As a result, there was very little demand for leases. Any leases were usually taken by lumbermen who would strip the land of its valuable timber and then abandon them and not pay the lease. This was what happened to Joseph Brant on the Six Nations Reserve when the Mohawks “leased” reserve land and then after the lessors stripped them of their value the lots were abandoned and lease payments not made. With the same result, the Crown and Clergy Reserves remained unsold or unleased and generated no income for the government or clergy.





The Canada Land Company

Following the Constitutional Act of 1791, the colony of Quebec was divided to create Upper Canada (present-day Ontario) and Lower Canada (present-day Québec). Military and civilian settlers submitted petitions to the Governor to obtain Crown land. Sons and daughters of Loyalists were also entitled to free lands.

Land Boards were created in 1789 to oversee land matters, to facilitate settlement in the four districts of Hesse, Nassau, Luneburg and Mecklenburg, and to grant certificates of location to the settlers in these districts.

The Land Boards were abolished in 1794 when the land granting process was centralized through the Executive Council. Therefore, petitions relating to Ontario Loyalists prior to 1791 are to be found in the Land Boards of Upper Canada, 1765-1804 or in the Land Petitions of Lower Canada, 1764-1841.

[Source: Land Petitions of Upper Canada, 1763-1865]

See records on a separate page link: The Canada Land Company

Save for the “German Block” in the middle, the Township was patented to the Canada Company and settled through that agency. The Block” was filled up between 1833 and 1835. An excellent township, devoted to mixed farming.” [Jesse E. Middleton, The Province of Ontario: a History: 1615 – 1927, published 1927]

1840 Wilmot Township is in Wellington District (above), 1845 it’s in Waterloo County, 1849 Wellington District Abolished

“Wilmot, partial District of Gore”

“The Crown Reserve for the County of Lincoln, now WILMOT”

“The quantity in this Block, given to the Commissioners for the Canada Company was calculated upon M. John Goefsman Plan of Survey which was made in the Year 1824 and estimated at 16,769 Acres.”

“Left out by M. John Goesfman in his first return of Survey in 1824, but was discovered in the last return in 1828 by his reporting the above Block to be 21,063 Acres.”