Ontario's Counties


Dundas County (1792+)

Located in South-Eastern Ontario, Dundas County was established in 1792 when the province of Upper Canada was first divided into counties. Dundas County was the third county to be created and was named for Henry Dundas, Viscount Melville (1741-1811). 1788-1792 Dundas County was in Lunenburg District, 1792-1850 in Eastern District, in 1850 it became an independent county. Currently it's part of the municipality of Stormont-Dundas-Glengarry.

The area was surveyed in 1783 in preparation for settlement by United Empire Loyalists. The first settlers arrived soon after, the First Battalion of the Kings Royal Rangers of New York among them. The children of these settlers were eligible to land grants of 200 acres upon reaching age 21.

The early economy of Dundas County prospered due to its proximity to varied modes of transportation including two railway lines and easy access to the St Lawrence River.

Dundas County


Durham County (1792-1974) / Durham Region (1974+)

Located in South-Central Ontario, Durham County was established in 1792 and was comprised of the townships of Clarke, Cavan, Cartwright, Darlington, Hope, and Manvers. 1792-1802 Durham County was in Huron District, 1802-1849 in Newcastle District.

In 1850 Durham County and Northumberland County were united for municipal purposes. In 1974 the counties were separated and Durham County (minus Cavan, Hope & Manvers Townships) was united with Ontario County (minus Mara & Rama Townships) to form the Regional Municipality of Durham.

Durham County


Elgin County (1852+)

Located in South-Western Ontario, Elgin County was established in 1852 from Middlesex County and named for the 8th Earl of Elgin, James Bruce.

Settlement began in 1803 when Colonel Thomas Talbot obtained a land grant of 5,000 acres to colonize the area. His plan was to encourage British emigrants to settle in the area in order to provide the crown with loyal settlers.

Colonel Talbot also planned and supervised the building of roads to encourage settlement and by the 1840's had settlers living in twenty-seven townships in the area. In 1852 the population of Elgin County was 25,818.

Elgin County


Essex County (1792+)

Located in South-Western Ontario, Essex County was established in 1792 and is the most southerly county in Canada. It was named for a county in England. From 1792-1849 it was part of Western District.

Settlement of this area precedes British rule (1763). The land had been claimed for France in 1615 by Samuel de Champlain. Missionary François Dollier de Casson and his followers were the first white men to arrive in Essex County in 1670 while on their way to Sault Ste. Marie.

The first European settlement was established in the early 1700's. A French fort was built on the Detroit side of the river, and the security of the nearby soldiers encouraged settlements on both sides of the river. In the 1730's land grants were given to French settlers and ex-military and when the British won the land in 1763 they honoured these land grants. At the time there were several hundred French settlers in the area.

The next wave of settlement came after the American Revolutionary War (1775-1783) when United Empire Loyalists received British land grants.

Essex County


Frontenac County (1792+)

Located in South-Eastern Ontario, Frontenac County was established in 1792 and named for County Frontenac, Governor of New France. The county is thought to have been the site of the first white settlement in Ontario since Huronia (1640's).

In 1673 Count Frontenac sailed up from Quebec and built a fort he named Fort Frontenac. Settlement grew around the fort until 1758 when the fort was captured by the British during the Seven Years War. It was then deserted until the 1780's.

The area was surveyed in 1783 and named King's Township. Soon after the first settlers arrived. They were former British and German soldiers from the Captain Grass Company of Associated Loyalist of the Kings Royal Regiment.

1788-1792 Frontenac County was part of Mecklenburgh District, 1792-1849 part of Midland District.

Frontenac County


Glengarry County (1792+)

Located in South-Eastern Ontario, Glengarry County was established in 1792 in Eastern District. However, the first settlers arrived in 1783. They were soldiers from United Empire Loyalists' Herkimer's Batteau Company, Kings Royal Rangers (New York) and the 84th Regiment of Foot. An additional 500 settlers from Glengarry, Scotland in 1786 and were the first to settle inland, away from the St Lawrence River.

By the early 1800's the population of Glengarry was primarily Scottish but began to change when French Canadian settlers arrived. They had left neighbouring communities in Quebec due to land shortages.

Most Glengarry settlers were farmers but the land wasn't conducive to farming and many of the young men had to find work elsewhere. Some opted to work in lumber shanties, others emigrated west or to the USA.

Glengarry County


Grenville County (1792+)

Located in South-Eastern Ontario, Grenville County was established in 1792 in Eastern District, then became part of Johnstown District in 1798. In 1850 it became part of the municipality of the United Counties of Leeds and Grenville.

Grenville County was named for British Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs (1791-1801), William Wyndham Grenville.

The first settlers were United Empire Loyalist's (Jessup's Loyal Rangers) who arrived in 1784. Most early arrivals settled along the St. Lawrence River.

Canada Starch Company, the first starch factory in Canada, was founded in Grenville County in 1858.

Grenville County


Grey County (1852+)

Located in Southern Ontario, Grey County was surveyed in 1833 and 1857 and established in 1852. It was named for Earl Grey, a British Colonial Secretary. Prior to 1852 the area was part of Simcoe County.

Originally the area was home to Algonkian, Cheveaux Relevés, and Petun peoples until they were wiped out by the Iroquois in 1640. By the time treaties for signed for rights to the land (1817 & 1857) the area was home to the Algonkian Ojibwa.

The first white settlers arrived in 1834 and were comprised of mostly Canadian born. Later groups of immigrants were primarily from the United Kingdom. Normanby Township was home to a group of German immigrants.

Grey County


Haldimand County (1800+)

Located in South-Western Ontario, Haldimand County was established in 1800 from parts of Lincoln County and Norfolk County. It was named for Sir Frederick Haldimand, Governor-in-Chief of Canada (1778-1786). From 1800-1845 it was part of Niagara District. In 1816 the townships of Ancaster, Barton, Binbrook, Glanford, and Saltfleet were removed from Haldimand County and established as Wentworth County.

In 1784 Joseph Brant and his followers, known as the Six Nations, were granted six miles of land on each side of the Grand River.

Brant also invited many fellow Loyalists not of native heritage to settle on their land.

During the early days of Haldimand County an important industry was lumber. Once the forests could no longer support this industry farming took over.

Haldimand County