Monday, August 11, 2014

Finding Loyalist Petition Papers on Library and Archives Canada (LAC)

After my blog post Looking for United Empire Loyalist Ancestors last week, I had several very helpful comments from expert Canadian genealogists, including:

*  Ken McKinlay actually found a land petition using the Library and Archives Canada (LAC) website ( me - this was a big help. 

*  Brenda Dougall Merriman noted that she wrote a book about Loyalist ancestors:

United Empire Loyalists: A Guide to Tracing Your Loyalist Ancestors in Upper Canada. It's published by/available from Global Heritage Press at 

*  Lorine McGinnis Schulze commented that "I have 3 tutorials on finding your Loyalist Land Petition using LAC.   You can view the actual images by following my step by step instructions. The first one is here -

"When you find the images for your ancestors' land petitions, be sure you save the image of the envelope. I have a tutorial explaining how to interpret it and what it all means at"

Today, Ken McKinlay wrote "Upper Canada Land Petitions at LAC" today on his Family Tree Knots blog.

All of this was very helpful and I've been able to find Land Petitions for several of my Loyalist ancestors, especially Abraham Dafoe and John Kemp.  

The process is basically two steps:

1)  On the Land Petitions for Upper Canada website, there is a "Search Database" link in the upper left-hand column:

I clicked on the "Search Database" link and entered my ancestors name in the search fields:

Lorine and Ken point out in their blog post that the user can use a wild card * in these search fields.

I clicked on the "Search" button above and saw a list of Land Petitions for the person:

The entries on the list provide this information:

*  Surname and given Name
*  Place - where the land was
*  Volume - for the records
*  Bundle - the group of records in the volume
*  Petition - the specific petition number in the bundle on the volume
*  Page(s) - the page for the specific petition on the microfilm
*  Reference - the Record Group at Library and Archives Canada
*  Microfilm - the Microfilm number that has the volume, bundle and petition

So I want to look at the information on microfilms C-1743, C-1879 and C-1885.

2)  The images of the actual land petitions are on the microfilms.  Most of the LAC microfilms have been digitized and are on the LAC website.

The Upper Canada Land Petitions (1763-1865) (Archived) microform collection is not easy to find, as Ken's blog post pointed out.  Here is the website with the Microfilm numbers:

There are additional pages for these microfilm numbers - there are 327 microfilms available.

I was searching for C-1743, so I clicked on that number on the list:

The screen above provides information about a specific image - in this case Page 1 of 1294 images on this specific microfilm.  I want to find Volume 150, Bundle D-3, Petition 12 on this microfilm.

down at the bottom of each image page is a Library and Archives Canada identification of the Bundle.  This is really the only way to find the Bundle you want, instead of searching through all 1294 of the images on this microfilm.  Once you find the right Bundle, then you have to search for the right Petition.

Here is the LAC identification strip on the 4th page of this microfilm:

It appears that Bundle D-3 is the first bundle on this microfilm, and this is for Volume 150.  Good luck there, eh?

The Petition number is usually penned on the top of the page of each petition page.  Guess what, Petition 12 is the first Petition on this microfilm also - good luck again, eh?  Here is the top of page 4 of 1294 on the microfilm:

There was no easy way to zoom in or out on this image.  I had to scroll up or down and scroll left and right to see what was in the petition.  

I right-clicked on the image, and downloaded it to my computer.  I then renamed it and put it in Abraham Dafoe's file folder in my computer files.  Here is the image of the page:

It took me almost an hour to find one of the Dafoe documents because I couldn't find the right Bundle on a microfilm  - that's the problem when you are using the "guess a page number and find" record when there is not an index.  Note back on the first image above that there is a column for Page(s) - it would be a really big help if that was accurately filled in for every microfilm!!!

I am still capturing all of the record images for my Loyalist ancestors.  I need to go back and use the wild card feature because the Dafoe and Kemp names may have variants.

Thank You to Ken, Brenda and Lorine for their very helpful suggestions.  We all get by with some help from our friends wherever they may be - online, in a society, email, Facebook, etc.  Please refer to their blog posts for more information if this research may be useful to you.

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Copyright (c) 2014, Randall J. Seaver


Ken McKinlay said...

If you click on the "View PDF" link near the top of the digitized microfilm web page it will mostly fit the page and may it much easier to view (might have to scroll down to see the bottom of the page). It all depends on how your web browser is configured for viewing PDFs. That is a "sticky" view that stays for the session I believe.

goneresearching said...


The "Land Petitions of Upper Canada, 1763-1865" are not just Loyalist Petition Papers.

As different regulations were enacted, others could petition for land too.

When this fantastic database came online a few years ago, it began the tumbling of a brick wall I had been dealing with for years. These petitions can be dynamite or a very good sledgehammer.

My line was not UEL, they came to Upper Canada in 1801. Though a couple of the kids married UEL kids who applied, the others (who had no UEL affiliation) applied under different regulations and those petitions are in this collection.

Two years ago I made the trek to the Archives of Ontario and continued the search in the land books which are not digitized. (I also looked a lot of other original records while there.)

Though understanding how to search and use the digital images/pdfs can be difficult, it is well worth investigating even if your line is not UEL.