Search billions of records on Ancestry.com

INDEX     CLEARINGHOUSE    MAILING LIST    LINKS     HOME

Land Settlement in Oro Township


                 The land comprising Oro Twp. was part of a
            large territory formerly held by the Ojibways
            (Chippewas).  This land, along with other adjacent
            lands, about 250,000 acres in all, was seceded to
            the British government through the treaty of Nov-
            ember 17, 1815 for the sum of 4000 Pounds of
            which the Oro Twp. portion makes up roughly
            1200 Pounds of it.
                 In 1811, S.S. Wilmot had surveyed a road
            between Kempenfeldt Bay and Penetanguishene
            Bay with lots of 200 acres (20 x 100 chains; 1
            chain = 66 feet) laid out along both sides of it and
            lots of 100 acres (20 x 50 chains) in a second con-
            cession.  By early 1815, a track had been cut out
            along this surveyed road as a transport route for
            the fur-trading North West Company and the
            militia stationed at Penetanguishene.  It was along
            this track which was soon to mark the western
            boundary of Oro Twp. that a number of settlers
            began locating themselves in 1819.
                 In 1820, J.G. Chewett surveyed and laid out
            the remainder of Oro Twp. into lots of 200 acres
            (30 x 66-2/3 chains) with allowances for roads, for
            which he received in payment 3105 acres (15-1/2
            lots) of Oro.  The Constitutional Act of 1791 re-
            quired that one seventh of each township surveyed
            be set aside as Clergy Reserves for the support of
            the Protestant clergy, a subject of a great deal of
            controversy for many years to come.  In the same
            year a separate instruction required that another
            one seventh be set aside as Crown Reserves for the
            support of the government.  In Oro Twp. 57 lots
            (approximately 10,600 acres) were set aside as
            Clergy Reserves and another 57 lots (10,430 acres)
            as Crown Reserves.
                 The land policies affecting the settler in ob-
            taining his land were very complex and continually
            changing to adapt to the often conflicting interests
            of the many parties involved in land settlement.
            There were four main types of land available to the
            settler: Crown Lands, Crown Reserves, Clergy Re-
            serves and Private Lands.

                              CROWN LANDS
                  In the beginning, five-sevenths of the land in
            Oro was Crown land while the other two-sevenths
            made up the Crown and Clergy Reserves.  The two
            main systems of granting Crown lands were the
            free grant system and the sales system.  Only com-
            mon settlers before 1826, United Empire Loyalists
            or their children, military claimants, certain
            officials and other exceptions were able to acquire
            land under the free grant system in Oro Twp.
                  The first to receive locations in Oro along the
            Penetanguishene Road were the Hon.  William
            McGillivray (600 acres) and William Hallowele
           (200 acres) in 1816, but actual settlement did not
            begin until mid-1819 as a result of a general Order-
            in-Council, April 26, 1819, opening the area up for
            settlement.
                  To encourage settlers to locate along the
            newly opened road they were offered 200 acre
            lots, double the quantity permitted since 1815, at
            a low fee, a policy which lasted only a few years.
            These settlers were also required to begin settle-
            ment duties within one month after receiving their
            location tickets (fig. 1-2-3), that is, to erect a
            dwelling house, to reside on their lot, to clear and
            fence ten acres next to the road and to clear half
            the road in front, all within 18 months.  After
            performing their settlement duties and paying a
           fee of Three Pounds, Five Shillings, Two Pence
           they would receive title to their land in the form
            of a patent.
                 At the same time, a number of discharged
            soldiers, "men of colour", who were veterans of
            the War of 1812, began locating on 100 acre lots
            beginning on Concession 2 fronting Wilberforce
            Street.  They were also subject to performing
            certain settlement duties (abolished in 1835) but
            were not required to pay patent and survey fees
            for their grant.  Many other militia claimants, in-
            cluding seamen, acquired grants of 100 acre lots
            throughout the township under the same condi-
            tions.  After 1834, only those who were discharged
            in the province were entitled to free grants which
            eventually ended in 1843.
                 Half-pay officers were entitled to free grants
            until August 1, 1831 after which they were
            allowed a remission of the purchase money in
            amounts varying according to rank.  In 1831, a
            number of half-pay officers came to Oro and ob-
            tained substantial grants of land scattered through-
            out the township.  They were: Charles S. Monck,
            1370 acres; Malcolm Ross, 1223 acres; James
            Adam, 1200 acres; Edward F. Davis, 1195 acres;
            Andrew Carthew, 1190 acres; Robert Oliver, 1100,
            acres; Edward G. O'Brien, 885 acres; and William
            B. McVity, 340 acres.
                 United Empire Loyalists or their children
            were eligible for 200 acre grants free of fees but
            subject to the same settlement duties as militia
            claimants.  Not much is yet known to what extent
            and proof that the settler was established on his
            land was required.  Two neighbourhood witnesses
            would swear in writing before a Justice of the
            Peace that they knew the applicant and described
            to what extent the settlement duties were per-
            formed.  Often a long period would elapse, even as
            much as half a century, from the time a settler
            located on his lot until he received his patent.  This
            was possibly due to bureaucratic delays or slow-
            ness in making payments.  Some problems arose
            when he settled on the wrong lot or bought land
            from another settler, the original nominee, who
            had not paid all his instalments and had no title.
            One settler complained about paying $9.00 per
            acre for stony land bought from the Crown Lands
            Department while better land in the immediate
            area was valued at from $1.50 to $3.25 per acre.  A
            half-pay officer complained about the manner in
            which a neighbour had performed his settlement
            duties on the road by hauling timber and brush on
            to one of his lots and not cutting the shrubs low
            enough.  Another settler ended up paying more
            interest than he should have when he paid the
            same interest on his last instalment as the first, for
            which he was never reimbursed.

                                  TABLES
                 The following tables should give some idea as
            to how the land was taken up.  They are based on
            an analysis of the Doomsday Books: Oro Town-
            ship, and figures are approximate only.

                                  TABLE I
              ACREAGE PATENTED FOR EACH DECADE
                 Years                          Acres
              1820 - 1829                      15,055
              1830 - 1839                      27,068
              1840 - 1849                      14,673
              1850 - 1859                        3,030
              1860 - 1869                        7,555
              1870 - 1879                        5,145
              1880 - 1889                           600
              1890 - 1899                           200
              after 1900                              250

              Total                                 73,576

                                    TABLE II
                     NUMBER OF LOTS PATENTED
                         ACCORDING TO LOT SIZE
                  No. of lots     Lot size        Acres
                    181         200 acres        36,200
                    312         100 acres        31,200
                      45         50   acres          2,250
                      52 irregular, broken or
                         under 50 acres           3,926

                    590        TOTAL           73,576



                                  TABLE III
                ACREAGE PATENTED UNDER VARIOUS
                 TYPES OF LAND GRANTS AND SALES
                       Type                                        Acres
                Military grants                               18.591
                Crown land sales                          17,870
                Free grants                                     11,600
                Canada Company                         10,230
                Clergy Reserve sales                       8,715
                James G. Chewett, surveyor        3,105
                Commission grants                         1,460
                Military Emigrants grants                 300
                Other or indeterminate                 1,705

                                                                         73,576

                 The sales system began on January 1, 1826.
            Under this system Crown land could be purchased
            in Oro for Four Shillings per acre in cash at a dis-
            count of 10%, or payment over one year or five
            years with interest (revised in 1827 to two years).
            From 1827, sales were by auction at upset prices.
            Starting in 1841, Crown land was sold strictly for
            cash only and it wasn't until 1854 when the system
            reverted to the five year credit option.
                 In 1831, a large influx of indigent immigrants
            from Great Britain came to settle in Oro (Heytes-
            bury).  They first arrived in Shanty Bay to be
            located by E.G. O'Brien, a land agent for the
            Crown Lands Department.  Later they came in
            through Hodge's Landing (Hawkestone) to be
            located by Wellesley Richey who took over as land
            agent.  In about four months, ninety-one indigent
            settlers and their families were located on lots of
            mostly 100 acres.  These settlers were required to
            pay Five Shillings per acre and were given either
            three or six years' credit depending on when they
            could afford the 1/4 down payment and the three
            annual instalments with interest.  They
            were also required to reside on their lot.  If they
            could not afford provisions they were allowed a
            loan of Three Pounds per acre cleared up to four,
            to be repaid in five years with interest.  In a few
            instances some of the settlers took up 100 acre
            lots. but only purchased 50 acres while obtaining
            the other 50 acres free through assisting societies
            in Great Britain such as the Glasgow Society.  In
            1842 William Shaw made an inspection of the 92
            lots located to these indigent settlers.  Out of the
            92 lots inspected, 28 lots were found vacant or
            abandoned, 19 of them because of poor soil condi-
            tions or lack of water, particularly those in Con-
            cessions 8, 9 and 10.

                            CROWN RESERVES
                 At first the Crown Reserves were only avail-
            able under an unpopular 21 year leasing system.
            In 1826, a large land company called the Canada
            Company was chartered and through a contract
            with the government began purchasing unleased
            Crown Reserves at Three Shillings Six Pence per
            acre.  The Canada Company purchased all the
            Crown Reserves in Oro except for one leased lot
            which was granted to King's College.  Patents for
            these lots were issued to the Canada Company
            from 1832 to 1846.  By 1835 the Canada Com-
            pany was selling lots in Ontario for an average
            price of Twelve Shillings Five Pence per acre.
            Terms were one-fifth cash down and five annual
            instalments at 6% interest.  From 1842, the settler
            could take out a 10 year lease with the option of
            purchase, a system which proved more popular.
           The armual rent was equal to the interest on the
           value of the lot.

                          CLERGY RESERVES
                 Like the Crown Reserves, the Clergy Reserves
           were available under 21 year leases at annual rents
           increasing once every seven years.  This system was
           discontinued in 1834.  From 1827 a limited
           number of Clergy Reserve lots became available
           for private sale each year which was replaced in
           1834 by the auction system at upset prices ranging
           from Ten Shillings to Fifteen Shillings per acre.
           The terms of credit were one-tenth cash down and
           nine equal annual instalments.  There was a great
           demand for lots on these terms which were better
           than those in purchasing Crown lands or Canada
           Company lots.  However, until 1847 existing
           lessees and squatters of Clergy Reserve lots had
           pre-emption privileges which made it a lot harder
           for other settlers to acquire these lots.  Possibly
           because of the limitation set on the number of
           Clergy Reserve lots that could be sold annually,
           most of the Clergy Reserves in the south half of
           Oro were transferred to inferior lots in the north
           half leaving those in the south more accessible for
           purchase which were then sold as Crown land.  The
           sale of Clergy Reserves was completely suspended
           from 1841 to 1845.  In 1853 the restriction on the
           acreage that could be sold annually was removed
           and from 1854 Clergy Reserves were sold under
           the same regulations as those for Crown lands.
       
                           PRIVATE LANDS
                 Once a patent was issued on a piece of land,
           that land became privately owned.  Eventually
           most of the Crown lands and the Crown and Clergy
           Reserves in Oro passed into the hands of private
           owners.  When a buyer purchased land from a
           private owner the transaction was called "Bargain
           and Sale".  Land could be bought from
           another settler such as one of those mentioned
           above, from a land speculator, from the Canada
           Company or from J.G. Chewett, the surveyor of
           Oro who held a large quantity of land.
                 In most cases, before any patent could be
           issued for a lot it had to be completely paid for.

Back to North American history...

Click for 1855 map of Oro area...

Back to Stories...

INDEX     CLEARINGHOUSE    MAILING LIST    LINKS     HOME