Index to Ontario Wills on OnLand

I was working on OnLand this morning and was surprised to see an option on the Historical Books to browse through a will index. I am not sure if this is well known so I will go through how I discovered the wills on this site.

  1. Start at the OnLand website and select your County of interest

2. After you have your location selected you want to click the Historical Books

3. Next selection is the General Register Index

4. And it brought me to this page and I spotted the wills index.

A few things to note, the wills index is sorted by alphabet but once you find your letter of the surname you are interested in it, it is not alphabetical.

It doesn’t appear that this is available for every County as when I checked Grey Co. I was disappointed.

Another thing to keep in mind, the indexes I checked appeared to be more recent but it could vary depending on which county you are interested in.

Happy searching!

  6 comments for “Index to Ontario Wills on OnLand

  1. Carolyn
    January 23, 2021 at 9:10 am

    This is pretty exciting! Thank you so much for sharing this.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. January 30, 2021 at 8:41 am

    Adding an important post sent to me by Bruce Elliott via email (with his permission)

    Hi Patricia. I tried to post this as a reply to your post, but as don’t have a personal website I was unable to fill in the final box.

    I was interested to see your blog post about the Ottawa-Carleton wills on Note that ALL the General Register (GR) volumes you list in Fig. 4 contain wills, not just the ones that have “wills” in their title. The GRs are really useful because for many years the majority of wills never went through the Surrogate (or probate) courts (probably to avoid paying fees). But many were registered in the Land Registries to record the transfer of property. Initially memorials of wills (abbreviated quotations of the clauses relating to real estate) were filed amongst the land deeds, but later we find full copies.

    Beginning in 1866 the Abstract Indexes were begun, retrospectively indexing deeds by Lot and Concession numbers (or in towns by Lot and Plan nos.). Documents that did not identify a specific property were entered in General Registers (GRs) and indexed by name. In some counties all wills mentioning land may have been included in the GR (I think many people assume this is so, but have not really checked it out), but that was not the case in Ottawa-Carleton. Years ago I identified all the recorded wills for people from March Township before 1900, and found that 15 were only in the Surrogate Court, 44 only in the Land Registry (35 indexed by Lot and Con. and filed amongst the deeds, and only 9 in the GR and indexed by name), and 18 in both the Surrogate Court and Land Registry.

    It took me a while to figure out the series of GR indexes in your Fig. 4.

    Ottawa City had a Registry separate from the County Registry starting in 1864. Beginning in 1950 the City office also included Nepean registrations. I don’t remember offhand when the two LROs merged again, but when I first did research at the LROs in the late 1970s there were the two offices, both then in the old County Court House building, I think on different floors, one for Ottawa & Nepean and the other for the County. Likely the two offices merged when the new Elgin Street Court House opened in 1986 with an amalgamated LRO on the Fourth Floor.

    · The first 7 numbered volumes listed in your Fig. 4 are a typed index covering both City and County offices from 1866 to 1996. The numbers in these indexes prefaced by GR were in the old County series, and the longer numbers prefaced by CR were in the old City series.

    The books further down labelled “Ottawa General Register” consist of a number of volumes superceded by the above. The following may belong in the category “More than you wanted to know”, but I wanted to try to figure them out, so here goes:

    · Ottawa General Register 1 (2 vols. A-J and K-Z) is actually a copy of the old COUNTY index that was retyped in 1932; there is a label in the front that indicates both these facts. After 1932 it is handwritten, and ends in about 1946. (I compared the first ten entries with an LDS filming of the original handwritten County index of 1866-82 and found the entries the same, apart from a mistyped number.)

    · Ottawa GR 2 (in 3 volumes) has pages headed CITY OF OTTAWA, and appears to be an old City index covering 1936-63. (The dates overlap a bit with GR3 because some letters of the alphabet carry over to the next volume earlier than others.)

    · Ottawa GR 3 also has pages headed as a City volume, covering 1961-72.

    · And Ottawa GR 4 is a volume covering 1970-80. The pages are not headed “City of Ottawa” but letter A in GR 3 ends with no. 571059 and then says “transferred to GR4” where the listings for names starting with A begin with no. 571144.

    · Ottawa-Carleton Wills Current Index covers 1985-96. I am guessing this dates from after the remerger of the two offices, and ends when registration started going online.

    This raises the question of where the post-1946 County index is, and where the pre-1936 City ones are. There are also earlier versions for both of these, in storage at the LRO. This doesn’t matter much, because the seven numbered volumes form an amalgamated index, and one should only need to refer to earlier versions if one of the instrument numbers is found to have been copied incorrectly.

    Then there are the two Cumberland indexes:

    · The “Old” Cumberland GR index is similar in format to the series of amalgamated Ottawa indexes but it covers only 1968-1991 and contains few if any wills.

    · The second one (Cumberland Wills) covers 1968-92, and appears to be entirely wills..
    When I made a rough listing of the microfilms at the LRO the “old” Cumberland index was a volume covering 1902-1928. So where is that? And where are the intervening years? Cumberland was shifted from Russell County to the new Regional Municipality of Ottawa-Carleton at the latter’s establishment in 1969, and these volumes both begin around that time. From about 1992 the entries in both were carried over into the Ottawa-Carleton volumes.


  3. Robin Tweed
    February 16, 2021 at 1:57 pm

    Unfortunately, I am not getting the General Registry Index as a selection. 😢


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