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A Chronology of Ontario for Family Historians
Article updated: 22 September 2010
By: Rick Roberts,   Biography & Archived Articles

1839....The Durham Report recommends responsible government and a union of the two Canadas.

1839.... Charles Poulett Thomson (Lord Sydenham) becomes Lieutenant-Governor

1839.... Victoria District established by proclamation October 15, 1839, with Belleville named the District town

1839.... The Anglican Diocese of Toronto is formed; John Strachan is first bishop

1839.... Brock District established by proclamation May 11, 1839 with Woodstock named the District town

1839.... Population of Upper Canada / Ontario = 409,048

1838.... The Battle of Windsor December 4, 1838. A force of Rebels and Americans crossed the Detroit River, attacking Windsor, killing four militiamen and burning the steamer THAMES. The Loyalist defenders numbered about 300 men. Reports of the number of Rebels and Americans vary wildly from 100 to 400 men. Twenty Five Rebels were killed in batrtle and later Colonel John Prince ordered that four prisoners be shot.

Click to see a larger version
Province of Ontario, 1838. Source: Archives of Ontario.

1838.... November 11, 1838 The Windmill Raid at Precott, Ontario was initiated when two schooners and a steamer named the United States carried 500 to 600 patriots to Ogdensburg, New York. On the next day November 12, 1838 the two schooners landed about 175 men who captured the undefended wiindmill at Prescott, Ontario. About 470 Loyalists attacked the Americans in the windmil but could not dislodge them from the building. Four days later on the 16th of December 300 Loyalist reinforcements arrived from the 83rd and 93rd companies from the fort at Kingston. The Loyalists attacked once again and took the windmill, taking 150 prisoners. Fifteen Upper Canadian militiamen were killed in the attack.

1838.... Waterloo and Peterborough counties are established

1838.... The Upper Canadian steam boat SIR ROBERT PEEL was burned by Americans in The Thousand Islands on May 30, 1838 at 2AM.

1838.... George Arthur becomes Lieutenant-Governor

1838.... The Huron District is created out of the London District; the Wellington District is created out of the Gore and Home districts; the Colborne District is created out of the Newcastle District; the Dalhousie District is created out of the Bathurst, Johnstown and Ottawa Districts

1837.... Talbot District established by proclamation December 30, 1837, with Simcoe named the District town

1837.... The Brock District is created out of the London District; the Talbot District is created out of the London District; the Victoria District is created out of the Midland District

1837.... Economic depression hits lowest point

1837.... December 14, 1837 Colonel Allan Napier MacNab caught up with Duncombe's Rebel force in Sodom. During the day prior to Macnab taking action, the Rebel force disbanded and fled. Macnab took 500 prisoners fromthe surrounding area over the next few days. Macnab freed the prisoners on the stipulation that they would return to incarceration in the event that the lieutenant-governor did not agree with his pardon. Only the most active rebels were later arrested and prosecuted.

1837... December 7, 1837 Colonel Allan Napier MacNab was ordered to exit Toronto, assemble a force and confront the Duncombe Rebellion in Western Upper Canada.

1837.... December 7, 1837 The Rebellion at Toronto ended. Rebel reinforcements of 60 to 70 men arrived from Pickering early on December 7th. Peter Mathews on instruction from Mackenzie attempted to burn the Don Bridge to divert some of the Loyalist forces form the attack on Montgomery's Inn. He failed to burn the bridge but did burn some buildings and killed one bystander for which he was later hanged. Later in the day a Loyalist force of approximately 1500 men attacked Montgomery's Inn. Many of the Rebels had fled prior to the attack but there were still approximately 400 at the Inn during the action, of which about 200 hundred participated inthe losing battle and the other half of the force hid in the Inn. The loyalists sufferred no losses and the Rebels lost one dead immediately and one wounded man died later in hospital. Mackenzie the remaining Rebels fled.

1837... December 6, 1837 Dr. Charles Duncombe of Burford, hearing news of the beginning of The Mackenzie Rebellion at Toronto began to assemble a force of Rebels which reached 500 to 600 in number by December 13. Duncombe's men were gathering in Scotland Township and Oakland (Malcolm's Mills).

1837.... On December 5th the Rebels marched in general confusion, from Montgomery's Inn to Toronto. Both the courage and the confusion may be partially blamed on the liquid refreshments consumed at the Inn the day before. The Rebel force was estimated by contemporary sources as being between 500 and 600 men. The Rebels were repulsed from the city by a very few defenders with the only loss being one Rebel who was reputed to have been lkilled accidentally by one of his own men. during the saem day 100 Loyalist reinforcements departed from Scarborough for Toronto and Colonel Allan Napier MacNab brought another 60 to 70 men from Hamilton by boat in the evening of the same day.

1837.... On December 4, 1837 action in The Mackenzie Rebellion at Toronto , 1837 started with the mustering of Rebel forces in Sharon, Holland Landing, Lloydtown and some other areas to meet at Montgomery's Inn on Yonge Street just north of Toronto. On the Loyalist side 200 to 250 of those loyal to the crown gathering in the city of Toronto. The first dead inthe Rebellion was Colonel Robert Moodie who was shot and killed as he attempted to warn Sir Francis Head about the Rebel gathering. Sir Francis Head received his warning about the imminent conflict from Alderman John Powell who had been captured by Mackenzie's men. Mackenzie's men did not search Powell who was carrying a weapon. Powell was turned over to the rebel temporary commander Anthony Anderson to be transported to his place of custody. Enroute, Powell shot Anderson and rode to Toronto to warn Sir Francis Head. As it turned out, by the time Powell got to Toronto the city was already in preparation because of the concern raised by the confusion of the Rebel movements.

1837.... The province entered a financial depression which lasted until 1844 - 1845

1837.... Loyalist forces burned the ship CAROLINE on the December 29, 1837. The ship had been a supply ship for American patriots.

1836.... Population of Upper Canada / Ontario = 374,099

1836.... Francis Bond Head becomes Lieutenant-Governor

1836.... College of Physicians and Surgeons of Upper Canada is formed

1835.... Huron County is established

1834.... Prince Edward District established by proclamation February 6, 1834, with Picton named the District town

1834... Toronto becomes the first incorporated "city" in the province ( 06 March )

1834....The second province-wide cholera epidemic started in July of 1834 and and ran it's course by the middle of September.

1834.... March. The first railway in Upper Canada, the London and Gore Railroad (later Great Western) is incorporated

1834.... mid-July to mid-September. Epidemic of cholera across entire province

1833.... Population of Upper Canada / Ontario = 295,863

1833 The Royal William becomes the first steamship to cross the Atlantic - The Royal William

1833.... 13 February. Hamilton becomes the first incorporated "city" in Ontario

1832.... On June 16, 1832 the first case of cholera in Prescott signalled the start of an epidemic which started in Prescott and spread rapidly to the western boundry of the province. The cholera epidemic lasted until September of 1832. At least 550 persons died across the province with 1000 cases identified in York (Toronto) alone with 400 dead in that city.

1832.... The "Great Fire" destroyed the business section of the town of Hamilton.

1832.... Brockville becomes the first incorporated "town" in the province

1832.... The right to perform marriages in the province of Ontario is extended. Prior to 1832, marriages in Ontario could only be performed by an Anglican priest, regardless of the religious affiliation of the couple. Source - Book: Routes To Roots. Ryan Taylor

1832....Rideau Canal opened from Bytown (Ottawa) to Kingston. Source - Book: Genealogy In Ontario - Searching The Records. Brenda Dougall Merriman

1832....Burlington Bay Canal is finished. Source - Book: Genealogy In Ontario - Searching The Records. Brenda Dougall Merriman

1832.... Peak year for immigration (66,000 arrive in this year)

1831.... The Prince Edward district is created out of Midland District

1831.... 7 January. Upper Canada government extends the right to perform marriages to Baptists, Congregationalists, Independents, Methodists, Mennonites, Dunkers and Moravians; District Marriage Registers begin to record them

1831.... The Cobourg Star is founded (the oldest weekly newspaper in Canada)

1831.... Population of Upper Canada estimated at 237,000

1830.... Population of Upper Canada / Ontario = 213,156

1829.... In May of 1829 a tornado touched down in Guelph. Many homes were badly damaged with roofs torn off and others were completely destroyed as were many local barns. The Ermosa Road was blocked by trees and several fences in the region were flattened.

1829....Welland canal is opened from Port Dalhousie to port Robinson. Source - Book: Genealogy In Ontario - Searching The Records. Brenda Dougall Merriman

1829.... 21 November. Adolphus Egerton Ryerson publishes the first issue of The Christian Guardian, the organ of the Methodist Church and forerunner of The United Church Observer. The records of birth, marriage and death in these publications have become a critical resource for those researching their early Ontario roots.

1829.... The road from Detroit River to York is completed under administration of Colonel Thomas Talbot (300 miles)

1828.... On November 7, 1828 the Adjutant General's Department of Upper Canada ordered the officers commanding each regiment of the province's sedentary militia to submit a nominal roll of the men in their units from 19 to 39 years of age. With some exceptions the rolls of 1828 survive and make a tremendous substitute for a census. Source - book: MEN OF UPPER CANADA - Militia Nominal Rolls 1828 - 1829

1828.... John Colborne becomes Lieutenant-Governor

1828.... Removal of British garrison on Drummond Island to Penetanguishene; Naturalization Registers begin

1828..... 7 November. Militia officers of each regiment are instructed to submit a nominal roll of the men in their units from 19 to 39 years of age (most of these rolls survive)

1827.... Free land grants are stopped to all but military and Loyalist claimants; sale of Clergy Reserve lands is permitted; open land market begins

1827.... King's College is founded (later becomes the University of Toronto)

1827.... Guelph is founded

1827.... Population of Upper Canada / Ontario = 177,174

Click to see a larger version
Ontario's Districts - 1826. Source: Archives of Ontario.

1824.... The first numerical census of Upper Canada was taken in 1824. Every year from 1824 to 1841 there was a similar census taken, however these census are of little value to genealogists as they only record gross totals of individuals broken down by administrative areas, then by sex, and numbers by sex under and over sixten years of age. Total population of Upper Canada / Ontario = 150,066

1826.... 26 September. Bytown is founded (but not incorporated) by Colonel John By (becomes the incorporated city of Ottawa in 1855)

1826.... city of London founded (but not incorporated)

1826.... The Canada Company buys 1,100,000 acres of Crown Reserve land, becomes known as the Huron Tract. The land is sold to hopeful immigrants on a "no money down scheme" designed to quickly populate the western portion of the province and eventually accumulate income to pay war of 1812 reparations agreed to in the Treaty of Ghent.

1824.... Controversy rages over equal status of the Church of England (Anglican) and the Scottish Kirk (Presbyterian)

1824.... 18 May. William Lyon Mackenzie publishes the first issue of The Colonial Advocate at Queenston. In November the paper is moved to York

1824.... Population of Upper Canada estimated at 150,000

1824.... Lanark county is established

1824.... The Canada Company is was formed in 1824 and received it's charter in 1826. After the War of 1812 there were many war debts owed and the Province of Upper Canada did not have the financial resources to discharge those liabilities. A plan was proposed and accepted, to establish the Canada Company which would purchase 2,500,00 acres of land and resell it to settlers under attractive terms, the profits going to discharge war debts. Source - book: CANADA COMPANY REMITTANCE BOOKS - 1843 - 1847

1823.... Peter Robinson emigrants from Ireland begin to settle in Lanark County (Ramsay township) and Peterborough County.

1822.... Bathurst District established by proclamation November 13, 1822, with Perth named the District town

1821.... Simcoe District is created out of the Midland District

1820.... Beginning in 1820, Militiamen upon due certification, who fought in the War of 1812 - 1814 "were entitled to land grants in recognition of their services with the First Flank Companies; The provincial Artillery; the Marine and General Staff of the Militia. 'they received permission to locate on the Waste Lands of the Crown, given His Royal Highness the Prince Regent's Bounty. Volunteers of the Flank Companies who served as privates were given land grants of 100 acres for a six month term of service. Sergeants were given 200 acres and other officers received larger amounts of land. Source - book: An Index of the LAND CLAIM CERTIFICATES of Upper Canada Militiamen who served in the War of 1812 - 1814

1819.... Legislation authorizes grants to 1812 war veterans

1819..... John Gilchrist of Hamilton becomes the first legally licenced doctor in Upper Canada

1819..... Post-war depression hits British North America and the United States

1818.... Peregrine Maitland becomes Lieutenant-Governor

1817.... First regular stage coach lines begin to operate between Kingston and York

1816.... Wentworth and Halton counties are established.

1816.... 7 September. The first steamship on Lake Ontario, the Frontenac, is launched at Bath, near Kingston

1816.... Gore District established by proclamation March 22, 1816, with Hamilton named the District town (created out of parts of the York and Niagara Districts)

1816.... Ottawa District established by proclamation March 22, 1816, with L'Orignal named the District town (created out of the Eastern District)

1816.... February 1816 the crown signed a treaty with the Algonkiam Indians for tracts of wilderness lands north of the Rideau system. Surveyor Rueben Sherwood located the townsite for Perth on the Pike River (later re-named Tay River). Settlement of the Perth military settlement began on April 18, 1816 according to a contemporary report by Col. Christopher Myers. Source - book: PERTH: Tradition & Style in Eastern Ontario

1815.... Hoping to send 2000 settlers to Upper Canada from Scotland and 2000 from Ireland, as well as a number from England, the British government in February 1815 released details of its plans which included a generous offer of free passage and provisions on the voyage, 100 acres of land, six months of rations, and agricultural provisions at cost. Source - book: PERTH: Tradition & Style in Eastern Ontario

1815.... The majority of Selkirk settlers at Red River leave for Upper Canada (due to conflict with the Metis) and arrive at Holland Landing Sept 5

1815.... British and American Methodist Societies become active in Upper Canada.

1814... July 25 and 26th, 1814 an outnumbered ( 2600 vs 4500) American army was defeated at Lundy's Lane. American losses: 171 dead, 571 wounded, 110 missing in action. British losses: 84 dead, 559 wounded, 193 missing in action, 42 prisoners (the heaviest casualties of the war).

1814.... On December 24, 1814 the Treaty of Ghent was signed on a basis of status quo ante bellum, ending the war 1812. Commissions were established to negotiate any outstanding issues and reparations.

1814.... as part of the treaty to end the War of 1812, Britain gives up captured Fort Niagara, Michilimackinac, Prairie de Chien and part of Maine; U.S. returns Sandwich and Fort Malden

1813.... Buffalo, New York was captured and burned by British and Canadian forces in retaliation for the burning of Newark (Niagara On The Lake). The sacking of Buffalo was made possible by 800 American militiamen deserting their posts in the face of the attack.

1813.... Newark (Niagara On The Lake) was burned by retreating American forces on December 10, 1813.

1813.... Tecumseh, the famous Indian chief was killed on October 5, 1813 when British and Indian forces were defeated in a battle on the Thames River near Moravian Town. The British General Proctor escaped however the British sufferred losses of 18 killed, 20 wounded and 600 prisoners. The Americans losses: 15 dead and 20 wounded.

1813.... On June 24, 1813, 570 Americans surrendered to 450 Indians and 50 British at Beaver Dam. Laura Secord had overheard the American plan and made her famous walk to warn the British.

1813.... Americans were deafeated when they attacked the batteries at Fort Meigs. Of the 800 Americans who attacked only 150 escaped slaughter at the hands of the British and Indian defenders.

1813.... Americans captured York (Toronto) on April 27, 1813. American losses were 85 killed or wounded. British losses were 60 killed and 89 wounded.

1812.... Oct 13, 1812 the Americans were defeated at Queenston. American losses; 90 killed, 100 wounded, and 800 to 900 prisoners. British losses: 130 killed, wounded or made prisoner. British General Sir Isaac Brock was one of those killed.

1812.... On June 29, 1812 eight American schooners were captured near The Thousand Islands and two were burned ( the Sophia and the Island Packet)

1812.... American President James Madison declared war on Great Britain on June 18, 1812. Earlier in the same month, the Americans had captured the schooner LORD NELSON on June 5th and the schooners ONTARIO and the NIAGARA were captured on June 14, 1812. General Isaac Brock is assigned as Commander of British forces in Upper Canada.

1812.... The town of York (present day Toronto) is burned by the Americans; Newark (Niagara) is also burned; Many records are lost

1811.... Population of Upper Canada / Ontario = 77,000

1810.... The Kingston Gazette newspaper is published for the first time

1809.... 15 March. Embargo Act is repealed

1809.... Trade resumes between Canada and the U.S.

1808.... The Militia Act of 1808 stated that all males between ages of 16 and sixty were required to enroll as militiamen and were to be called out once a year"to be reviewed and exercised" and not less than twice a year "for their arms to be inspected and to be instructed in their duties". The Act was adjusted and the provisions extended with a new Militia Act of 1812. Source - book: An Index of the LAND CLAIM CERTIFICATES of Upper Canada Militiamen who served in the War of 1812 - 1814

1807.... Legislation establishes a grammar school in each district

1807.... 1 June. First public school in York is opened by Dr. George Okill Stuart

1807.... 22 December. Embargo Act, President Thomas Jefferson of the U.S. suspends Canada - US trade

1806.... Frances Gore becomes Lieutenant-Governor

1805.... German Company settles in Waterloo County

1802.... Newcastle District established by proclamation June 23, 1802, with Newcastle named the District town

More Ontario Chronology, by year: pre 1775     1775 - 1800     1801 - 1839     1840 - 1866     1867 - 1940

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