Each applicant for a grant or lease in Upper Canada was required to submit a written petition. He or she also had to supply the necessary supporting documentation such as certificates from a local magistrate confirming his or her age, good character, loyalty and identity, or a discharge certificate from the Army or Navy. 

The records of the land granting process focused on four essential steps:

  • allocation of specific lots to the petitioners;
  • surveying of the land to establish precise boundaries;
  • performance of the settlement duties (clearing and cultivating a certain acreage, erecting a dwelling of minimum size); and
  • issuance of the deed.

The key to a successful petition was to identify oneself without any doubt and to justify any special entitlement. Therefore, the petitions will often contain an applicant's story detailing services, losses and suffering during the American Revolutionary War or the War of 1812. They may also contain discharge certificates, letters of introduction from prominent individuals in Britain, reports by the Surveyor General or the Attorney General on technical and legal matters, and some lists of settlers by region.

The petitions were received at the Executive Council Office. They were presented and read before a meeting of the Land Committee of the Executive Council, and a decision was recommended by the Councillors to the Lieutenant Governor.   This collection of records relate to pioneer settlers of Oxford County and represents their efforts to secure a life in a new land.

These Oxford County records were excerpted from a database developed by Library & Archives Canada.