Ontario Court Records

At the provincial level there are three types of courts:
1. Court of Appeal which handles appeals of decisions made by lower courts
2. Superior Court which handles the most serious civil and criminal cases
3. Provincial & Territorial courts which handle:

Coroner Records
- Investigations of suspicious deaths

Archives of Ontario

Criminal Justice & Correctional Records
- Investigations undertaken by the Ontario Provincial Police
- Inmate registers (name of inmate, reason for incarceration)
- Records of those awaiting trial
- Those sentenced as adults to two years or less at a provincial correctional facility
- Young offenders
- Parolees and those on Probation

Archives of Ontario  

Ministry of the Attorney General

Courts of Quarter Sessions
- Apprenticeships
- Indentures
- Tavern Licenses  

Archives of Ontario

Divorce Records
- Prior to 1867 a divorce could only be granted through an Act of Canadian Parliament
- From 1867-1930 divorces were granted by the Federal Parliament and listed in the Canada Gazette (the Canadian government newsletter, archived at Library & Archives Canada)
- From 1931 divorces were granted by the county or district courthouse where the parties in question lived.  

Library & Archives Canada (1867-1930)
Archives of Ontario (1931-1987)
Dept of Justice (1968+)

Fire Marshall Records
- Investigations of suspicious fires 

Archives of Ontario

Guardianship Records
In 1827 the Guardianship Act was introduced allowing the court to appoint a guardian for orphaned children under the age of 21. At that time women were not yet considered people so if widowed with young children a male relative or friend might apply for guardianship of the children.

Archives of Ontario

Supreme Court Records
- Crown prosecution files including case files and criminal indictments.  

Archives of Ontario ( and earlier)
Court of Appeal for Ontario (-

Wills & Estate Files
From 1793-1858 wills and estate files were filed in two different places. If the estate/property of the deceased was located in one district it was filed with the Surrogate Court, if the estate/property of the deceased was located in more than one district it was filed with the Probate Court.

After 1858 all wills and estate files were filed with the Surrogate Court. Wills usually include the name of the deceased, the date the will was written and whomever the deceased dispersed belongings to.

Estate files (filed with or without a will) usually included a probate petition, will (if one was written), and an inventory of the deceased's assets. If a person died with assets, but without a will, a letter of administration was usually filed. In Ontario, wills were usually filed with the Court, but if wills were written solely for the purpose of dispersing land, you will most likely find them filed with land records.

Wills were generally, but not always, written within five years of a persons demise and filed within one year after a persons death. However, if you don't find a will within a year after a death, keep looking to see if it was filed late. If a person left a spouse behind, check the year after the spouse died as both wills may have been filed at the same time. Keep in mind that prior to the 1900's women usually did not leave wills and those that did were usually widows.

In 1859 a central province-wide surname index was created. This makes it very easy to find if, when, and where an ancestor's estate was probated.  

Archives of Ontario
(Index 1793-1858)