Land records

We have many records related to land, including petitions, grants and scrip.

On this page

Before you start

If you are doing genealogy research, gather information such as:

  • name
  • approximate year of birth
  • place or province where the person lived

Places to look

Library and Archives Canada (LAC) holds these records.

Land boards records

Land boards were committees that oversaw land matters relating to settlement (RG1-L4).

Our Land Boards of Upper Canada (1765-1804) database is searchable by name.

Land petitions

Many settlers submitted petitions for land (RG1-L3). They are searchable by name in these databases:

Upper Canada Land Books

After a petition was submitted for a grant of Crown land, the Executive Council of Upper Canada decided whether or not to grant it. The record of those decisions are in the council minutes, commonly known as the Upper Canada Land Books (RG1-L1).

A list of the volumes and links to the digitized microfilm can be found on our partner website Héritage under Reference Guide: Upper Canada Land Books, 1787-1841.

The Ontario Genealogical Society indexed the records by name. A copy of that Index to the Upper Canada land books is available in the genealogy room at LAC. There is also an electronic version on one of the public computers in the room.

The actual land grants are held at the Archives of Ontario.

Heir and Devisee Commission - Upper Canada

The Heir and Devisee Commission was established in 1797 to clarify the titles to lands. Records include affidavits, location certificates, powers of attorney, orders-in-council, copies of wills, deeds, testimonial letters, etc.

We hold most of the records of the first Heir and Devisee Commission, 1797 to 1804, and some of the records of the second Commission,1805 to 1854 (RG1-L5).

  • The records are on microfilm, arranged by district, then by type of document
  • There is no index by name

A list of the volumes and links to the digitized microfilm are found on our partner website Héritage under Reference Guide: The Heir and Devisee Commission, 1777-1854. A detailed description of the content of each volume can be found at the start of each microfilm.

Other Heir and Devisee records, 1797 to 1911, are held at the Archives of Ontario.

Gaspé Land Commission

These records relate to land claims in the Gaspé region of Quebec (RG1-L7). They are searchable in our Gaspé Land Commission — names of claimants, 1819-1825 database.

Land documents, Registrar General

This series in RG68 consists of 213 volumes of originals and copies of leases, deeds, grants, surrenders, sales, letters patent and other documents relating to:

  • Crown and Clergy Reserve lands
  • Indian and Ordnance lands
  • Dominion lands

The documents relate to Quebec and Ontario, mostly in the late 1700s to the late 1800s. The microfilm is digitized on Héritage.

The RG68 volumes of Dominion lands sales in Manitoba in the 1870s are searchable by name in our Land Grants of Western Canada, 1870-1930 database.

Land grants

Land grants usually consist of a one-page document with the following details:

  • the name of the grantee
  • description of the land
  • date granted

Quebec

Starting in 1763, new lands were granted according to the township system. In 1891, a list was published of Crown land grants and sales in each township. We have a microfiche copy of that List of lands granted by the crown in the Province of Quebec from 1763 to 31st December, 1890.

That publication is also digitized on our partner website Canadiana. There are two parts. The section by county and township starts on image 28. The alphabetical index of names starts on image 1159.

The list provides details that identify a document, for example:

  • Book Z Grants, page 175
  • Book AG Sales, page 79

We also have a copy of an alphabetical index created by the Quebec Family History Society. That index is available on a public computer in the genealogy room and through our computer access to Ancestry.

The actual land grants were given to the grantees. Copies of the grants were recorded in registers called Entrybooks, which are held at Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec (BAnQ).

LAC has microfilm copies of those BAnQ Entrybooks for the years 1788 to 1867 (MG8-A26). In the fonds description, there is a link to the Finding aid. Use the lists in the finding aid to find the microfilm number that corresponds to the land book you are interested in.

Western Canada

Lands granted in Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta and the railway belt of British Columbia are searchable in our Land Grants of Western Canada, 1870-1930 database. It includes references to land grants (patents) found in these series:

  • Registrar General (RG68)
  • Land Patents Branch (RG15)

Scrip records

Scrip was a document, warrant or certificate that entitled the holder to a certain allotment of crown lands. These certificates allowed the Department of the Interior to grant land without specifying the actual piece of land involved.

Most of these records relate to Métis Nation people in western Canada. Information about the records and how to search them is found in Métis scrip records.

Other scrip was granted to members of the North West Mounted Police and military veterans.

Land patents, Indian and Inuit Affairs Program

These are copies of land patents issued mostly to non-Indigenous people for former Indian reserve lands, 1886-1951 (RG10). In the series description, there is information about the records and the finding aids.

Maps

Maps can help you find land locations, such as lot and concession numbers in Quebec and Ontaro. Here are two examples:

Here is a map showing the townships, ranges and meridians in the western provinces. An explanation of that land system is found in the help page in our Land Grants of Western Canada, 1870-1930 database.

To search for maps in our collection, go to Collection Search.

  • Click on Advanced Search
  • Select Collections and Fonds database.
  • In Type of material, select Maps and cartographic material
  • In All these words enter the name of a place
  • For Indigenous research, also try the name of a First Nations community or Agency

Published sources

Some researchers and genealogical societies in Ontario have published name indexes to local land records. To show you examples of the variety of books available, we have compiled a list of some of those books found in our Aurora catalogue.

Each title in this list includes the author and the LAC call number.

  • If the call number includes the word genealogy, the book is in the genealogy room at our Ottawa location.
  • Example of a call number: Genealogy Ref. - CS88 A2 A38 2003

You can click on a title in the list to open the full catalogue entry. If you scroll down to see where these books are available in other libraries. down, you will see a list of other libraries that hold copies. You can also check your local library’s online catalogue.

You may find similar books in local libraries or genealogical societies in the area where your ancestors lived.

Other records

You can search for scrip and other land records in Collection Search.

  • Click on Advanced Search
  • Select Collections and Fonds database.
  • In All these words enter the word land
  • For Indigenous research, also try the name of a First Nations community or Agency
  • In Any of these words enter any other terms relevant to your search. Examples:
    • a place
    • a person’s surname
    • words such as settler, colony or colonization
    • phrases such as family settlement scheme

Depending on the type of research you are doing, you may want to try other keywords such as:

  • survey or surveyor
  • property
  • homestead
  • clergy reserve
  • ordnance land
  • lease
  • deed

For Quebec searching, also try the French words “seigneurie”, “terre” and “terrain”.

Access the records

Digitized records

If you find a record of interest, there may be a digital image. Some of these are available through Collection Search. Others, particularly digitized microfilm, are available through Héritage.

Non-digitized records

For records that are not digitized and not restricted, you'll need to see them in person. If you cannot visit us in person, you may want to order copies or hire a researcher.

Restricted records

When you find a reference to an archival government record, it will have an access code:

  • 90: open without restrictions
  • 32: restricted by law

If a record is restricted, you can submit a request to our Access to Information and Privacy Division.

Related resources at LAC

Blogs

Related resources outside LAC

  • A wide range of land records are held at most provincial and territorial archives, in particular:
    • land petitions and grants in the Maritime provinces
    • land grants and related records in Ontario and Quebec
    • homestead files in the western provinces