Sunday Showcase: Upper Canada Ancestors

The Ontario Genealogical Society (Toronto, ON) has a lineage/heritage society for any person that can prove* they are descended from a resident that was in Ontario prior to 10 FEB 1841, back when Ontario was still called “Upper Canada.”  

I did some digging in my research notes, and found quite a few persons: a handful on my mother’s paternal side.  Also found a small town full on my father’s maternal side (but they were living in Lower Canada — AKA Quebec).

When submitting your application, you need to prove you are descended to your earliest generation; it does not matter if you and/or your subsequent generations did not remain in country.

In my case, I (G1) am my mother’s oldest; Mum (G2) is one of Jim’s daughters; Jim (G3) was the only son to J.W (G4); J.W was fathered by Tom (G5); Tom was sired by Thomas (G6); and, Thomas was begat by John (G7)!

So, where do you begin?

If you are familiar with H.G. Wells’ novel, The Time Machine (1895), you start with the present (yourself) and go backwards through Time.


A birth certificate to prove yourself is a start, but not the little, blue, wallet-sized one the Ontario Registrar General routinely sends you.  You need a copy of your birth registration; it’s a long form, about 8.5 by 14inches (legal-sized paper), which your parents filled out when you were born in order to acquire your birth certificate at a later date.  Last I looked, it costs the same as a little, blue, wallet-sized certificate.

If you don’t have a birth certificate, a baptismal certificate works, as it would have your name, your birthdate and your parents’ names on it.

GENERATION 2 (G2): Mum & Dad; son/o John HALLIWELL & Emily Elizabeth MOREAU

“Second verse, same as the first.”  (Yeah, it going to sound familiar from this point on.).

Now, you need the birth certificate of your mother (or your father), depending on whose line you are tracing back to 1841.  In my case, it’s my Mum.

Now, here’s the fun part: Births in Ontario after 1913 but before 1945, has the names of both parents AND their marriage date on the child’s birth certificate.  I was very lucky, my Mum’s birth certificate falls in that 1913-1945 window! 

Outside of these time-frames, you need to find your grandparents’ marriage certificate or marriage registration

NOTE: If you decide on the marriage registration, you will have the names of both sets of your great-grandparents on it as well!

If you cannot locate a birth and/or marriage certificate, you can use obituaries, gravestone photographs and census records to prove dates and relationships.  But, remember, both relationships must be proved: G1 to G2 and G2 to G3.  And you need two pieces for each event you are trying to prove.

Perfect example: I could not locate my parents’ marriage certificate. (They divorced in 1979 and Mum’s lawyer retained it); so, I used two obituaries: my father’s (from 2003) and my maternal grandfather’s (1982).  My father’s listed me as one of his three children.  Grandad’s listed my mother, in her married name, as one of his daughters.

I also wrote to the church where their marriage was performed and acquired a certified certificate from their record books. (I’ll let you know, if these papers are acceptable, as I am submitting my application next week.).

GENERATION 3 (G3): James Henry ATKINSON & Grace Ethel HEMMINGWAY; daughter/o Hamer HEMINGUAY & Esther NEEDMAN

  • obituaries and gravestonestogether
  • Mum’s birth certificate lists her parents’ marriage as 04AUG1934.
  • Great Aunt Lenore’s obituary is very detailed in explaining who her parents and her brother were (my maternal grandfather); but she was not born until 1918, so she is NOT documented anywhere just yet. lenore
  • She should be in the 1921 Canadian Census, but that is not slated to be released to the public until June 2013. (Remember: the two pieces for each event rule?).
  • The 1911 Census did help link Grandad to his parents — see G4 1911; then,
  • I found his birth registration — he’s the middle one


GENERATION 4 (G4): James Walker “J.W.” ATKINSON & Eva Clarke WILSON; daughter/o Henry Orr WILSON & Isabella CLARKE

  • gravestone photograph
  • Marriage certificate: also supplies parents’ of groom: Thomas ATKINSON/ Sarah CAWARD; and, parents’ of bride: Henry Orr WILSON/ Isabella CLARKE
  • 1891 Census: J.W. age 6; see G5 1891
  • 1901 Census: J.W. age 15; See G5 1901
  • 1911 Census: J.W. is married with a son, James (my grandfather), who was recorded as being born OCT19111911-jwa
  • He was born 05OCT1910 according to his birth registration (supplied above in G3), so if the Census was taken in April of 1911, his age should have been recorded as 6/12 meaning six months old.

GENERATION 5 (G5): Thomas ATKINSON II & Sarah Ann CAWARD; daughter/o John COWARD & Mary JOPSON


  • gravestone photograph: Hamilton, Wentworth (County), Ontario


  • Marriage certificate: not found, but they were married after 1865 but before 1870


  • 1871: Tom and Sarah are married with a 1year-old daughter named Mary; Sarah’s illegitimate 6year-old daughter, Annie, lives with them too


  • 1891: 6year-old James is J.W. from G4


  • 1901: J.W. is now 15year-old



  • 1911: daughter Harriett has moved back home, with her husband, Samuel BEVAN, and three children

GENERATION 6 (G6): Thomas ATKINSON & Bethia KIDD; daughter/o Richard KIDD & Jane SOLTON

PROBLEM: proving when they married.  It was in 1837, but I could not locate any actual documentation.  Please note: Indices or transcripts are NOT acceptable.

So, a photograph of their stone (it was on the reverse side of John & Elizabeth’s stone G7) to prove their dates; and copies of the 1852, 1871, 1881 and 1901 Census records were used. 

  • Gravestone photograph: lists birth and death dates

    St. Philip’s Cemetery, Weston, Ontario
  • grave is reverse of John ATKINSON & Elizabeth HODGSON’s G7 gravestone 
  • 1852 Census: NAC#C11761, page 101 (Canada West, 42 York, 407 Etobicoke)







The reason so many census records were supplied was due to the fact that [1] Thomas & Bethia had fourteen children; and [2] In order to prove relationship with them, their births were needed (particularly the oldest three:   Robert, William & Thomas II); as they would provide the family’s residency prior to 1841.

GENERATION 7 (G7): John ATKINSON & Elizabeth HODGSON; daughter/o Robert HODGSON & Ann ROBINSON

PROBLEM: proving when they arrived. It was 1833, but once again try and locate actual documentation. There is a letter from British Consul, James BUCHANAN of New York City; it is contained in the Upper Canada Sundries RG5, A1, but have had no luck finding it.

Solution: a gravestone listing births and deaths (namely, Robert)


St. Philip’s Cemetery, Weston, Ontario
  • obverse of Thomas ATKINSON & Bethia KIDD’s G6 gravestone (see above)
  • Photograph lists son, Robert, who died May 1833 in York, Upper Canada (now called Toronto, Ontario), six weeks after his arrival 
  • 1852 Census: John & Elizabeth are listed with their daughter, Mary and her (second) husband, Lancelot SHAW


And this is what I have put together, with said information for G1 and G2 that was described but not shared here.


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