The Land Registry offices across Ontario have now officially closed their doors to public access. The land records can now be accessed in several ways:
- By visiting onland.ca to access abstracts and historical records. Be aware that this site is not easy to use and will likely require patience and multiple visits to the help pages in order to find the correct documents. And, there is a fee attached to accessing the actual land documents.
- By visiting FamilySearch.org to search for any land records that have been digitized by the organization by township and county. As these were digitized separately, the scans may be of better quality and they are free to access and download.
- By visiting the Archives of Ontario in person, when it reopens to the general public. You can prepare for your visit by referring to their finding aid – Finding Land Registration Records. You may also contact, firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more about the services available during the closure.
The Ontario Genealogical Society has been busy since the closure announcement advocating for the interests of researchers, with the Ontario Government. As a result, there are several initiatives that are in the works including:
- Improvements to the user experience on the OnLand website. Easier to find prefix codes and standard formatting, more FAQ’s, the addition of tutorials, easier request process for re-scans and evolving the descriptors to be more intuitive and self-explanatory. A series of webinars for researchers is also planned for members.
- More open access to the land records held at the Archives of Ontario. This includes adding a descriptive database for the “hidden” documents, updating the finding aids and standardizing the descriptors across the various types of documents so that they are easier to find.
- Negotiating agreements for the local placement of all land documents over the next six months. As the doors were closed, all documents (aside from mounted board plans and maps) were kept in the local land registry offices. Local, individual agreements are needed to enable to transfer of documents to a local repository for continued free, local access.
- Ongoing education and training around accessing Land Records in partnership with the Government of Ontario and our Branches. including webinars like the one found below and online video guides – https://help.onland.ca/en/video-guides/
Watch Now – An Insider’s Guide to Using OnLand
Over 20 years ago, the Ontario Government began to transition their land records to digital form. At that time, a group called APOLROD (Association for the Preservation of Ontario Land Registry Office Documents) was created to preserve the original Land Abstract books from destruction. At that time, they built the chart (found below) in an attempt to inventory which documents were being held where, across the province. This is a searchable chart that shows which items are being held in the different repositories.Copy-of-land-records-list-by-LRO-office-updated-HMc