Land Boards of Upper Canada, 1765-1804

Burning Fallen Trees in A Girdled Clearing.


The Treaty of Paris ratified on April 17, 1783 officially recognized American independence. Americans who had remained loyal to the British Crown were persecuted and forced out of their homes. The British government came to the aid of these Loyalists and arranged for transportation for those who wished to leave. Many chose to settle in Nova Scotia (which then included New Brunswick) and in Quebec (which then included Ontario).

The Land Boards were established in 1789 to oversee land matters, settle the four districts (Hesse, Nassau, Lunenburg and Mecklenburg) and to grant land to the settlers. These districts became Upper Canada in 1791. Many settlers were given free land, rations, farm stock and farm implements. Lands were also granted to the sons and daughters of Loyalists. The Land Boards were abolished in 1794 when the land granting process was centralized through the Executive Council.

View a map of the districts.

The Records

Most of the documents are dated between 1789 and 1794, with some as late as 1804. However, there are some earlier documents relating to French Canadians in the area before the arrival of the Loyalists.

The records include:

  • minutes
  • reports
  • correspondence
  • instructions or regulations for the operation of the Land Boards
  • schedules of locations and of lands granted
  • oaths of allegiance

Some reports, copies of minutes and other records submitted by the Land Boards to the Executive Council are to be found in other series of archival documents:

The Database

This database provides access to more than 16,400 references to individuals in the Minutes and records of the Land Boards accumulated by the Executive Council Office (RG 1 L4).

Names in the records have been indexed. For names that appear frequently, such as a member of the Land Board, only the volume number is given, not specific pages. Some entries were also made under subjects, such as:

  • Hesse, District of
  • Indian Lands
  • Land Board
  • Land Granting

How to refine your search in the result page

As a federated search engine, “Collection Search” allow users to search multiple collections available to the public at Library and Archives Canada (LAC) from one starting point. Besides the advanced search, you can refine your search results is by using the facets (also called filters) found in the left-hand menu of the results page.

Facets can be selected or deselected. The results list will adjust itself to your actions. If you select a specific facet, other options within the same tab will no longer be visible. You will see a red “X” next to the facet selected. To remove or deselect this facet, you just need to click on the “X”. You will then be able to see the other options for the tab again.

Basic facets let you define your search based on elements common to all records in “Collection Search”:

Found in

This facet lets you choose which subject to explore based on the datasets that contain results generated by the keywords you used. If you select the tab “Genealogy”, you will see the broader subjects of interest (e.g. “Military”, “Census”, etc.). In the case of the “Archives” tab, you will see the datasets containing your keywords (e.g. “Fonds and Collection”, “Orders-in-Council”, etc.).


You will see the decades corresponding to the search results. Click on a decade to see a list of results by year.

Type of material

This facet will list the type of format available. For example, if you are interested in videos, select “moving images”. If you want to concentrate on written documents, click on the option “Textual material”.

Hierarchical level

This facet will indicate the number of results per level of archival classification (fonds, sous-fonds, series, sub-series, files, items, component, etc.).


This facet lets you choose records available online.


This facet can limit your results to records coming from a government archival fonds or a private source.

Specific facets

You will notice that some datasets have unique facets to provide a better search experience. For example, under census records you will find facets for province, district and sub-districts. These might be the key to your research, so it’s a very good idea to watch out for them!

To suggest a correction, click on the Suggest a Correction link to access an electronic form.

To return to the Search Results page, click on the Back button of your browser in the upper left corner of your screen.

How to Obtain Copies

How to Access Library and Archives Canada Records

Other Resources

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