Westmeath Township Papers

The “Westmeath Papers” - 1,160 Documents

Lion & Unicorn094

The Royal Lion and Unicorn Coat of Arms found on the Crown Grant Documents, Upper Canada.

The Ontario Archives in Toronto houses the “Westmeath Papers”, a collection of early documents including Crown Land applications, Certificates, Patents, land registry instruments and some correspondence.  These Westmeath Papers are available for viewing on microfiche film at the Upper Ottawa Valley Genealogical Group Library, Pembroke. For purposes of this website the "Westmeath Papers" collection was digitized by photography, in its entirety.  Nearly 1,200 documents were prepared this way - a long arduous undertaking.  The microfiche film is often unsatisfactory in regard to lighting and legibility.  Add to that the frequent use of blue paper which darkened and bled ink through. Unfortunately this is a matter of what you see here is what you get. If you desire a true copy of a Land Patent follow the steps outlined:   Crown Land Patent Records The Lots usually consisted of 200 acres but of course that would vary according to the lay of the land.  Settlers usually signed on for 100 acre parcels so documents specify which one-half of the Lot is being purchased. Surveyor The militiamen who had seen service in the War of 1812-14 and/or their heirs are included in the Papers. Some documents are from the 1850’s or later, when heirs of original owners were selling land to newcomers and needing to clarify the documentation.  The issue of timber rights is the cause of some correspondence.  The first owners would have made some monies from the virgin stands of lumber and then resold the land to incoming would-be farmers. And as in any human endeavor, mistakes can be made;  so some correspondence deals with straightening out incorrect patents and the reissuing of the corrected ones. Many of the documents use the same format.   The two most frequently used are shown below, so you can become familiar with the phraseology.  Hopefully this will help you read the often challenging calligraphy.  There are also many variations of the wording, particularly in the "Know all men by those present" document - the two examples shows but one version.
Doc. A Example: Herewith you will receive the sum of __(Pounds Sterling or Halifax currency)___ as a deposit on account of the ___(lot no. & concession no.) ____ of Westmeath which I hereby apply for permission to occupy and cultivate with a view of purchasing in conformity with the notice issued from the Crown Land Department  and published in the official  Gazette under the date ________. Signatures:  Witness (often the Land Agent William Harris) and Petitioner, or mark “X” of Petitioner." Doc B Example: "Know all men by these present that I John L. O'Flanagan in the Township of Westmeath, in the County of Renfrew in the Province of Canada witness that the said partyof the first part on consideration of the sum of thirty -four pounds 15/9 of lawful money of Canada the receipt whereof is hereby by me acknowledged hath bargained sold transferred made over and quit claimed to Thomas Taylor of  the Township of Mansfield in the County of Pontiac in the Province of Canada all my right title  interest claim property estate and demand that certain parcel or tract of land being in the Township of Westmeath in the County of Renfrew and Province of Canada known as Lot No. 13 being in the A Concession on Coulonge Lake being in the Township of Westmeath aforesaid containing by admeasurement two hundred acres be the same more or less together with houses, outhouses, woods and waters erected lying and being.  To have and to hold to his own proper and behoove and to his heirs and assigns forever.  I hereby relinquish to the said Thomas Taylor all my claims upon the said land in testimony hereof I have set my own hand and affixed my own seal this seventh day of November AD 1855. Signed sealed and delivered in presence of ____"

Interpreting the Labeling of Documents as Related to the Township's Landscape:

Beautiful Coulonge Lake is located at the top of the township's peninsula jutting northward into the Laurentian Hills of Quebec and is a widening of the Ottawa River. It has two prominent Bays on its southern shore, now known as Hennessy Bay to the west and Malloy Bay to the East.
water-rapids

The roiling white waters of the Rocher Fendu and Paquette Rapids tested the most seasoned boatmen.

This area is well known to cottagers and summer visitors because of its sand beaches  and it was also the earliest area surveyed.  Its calm waters were inviting to settlers after the rapids found both downstream and upstream from the Lake. To avoid those rapids in the Rocher Fendu area,  river travelers came upriver using the channel on the north side of Grand Calumet Island and then either turned and went back down the Upper Canada Side (Ontario) shoreline or came on into the Coulonge Lake area. Coulonge Lake also boasted a North West Company, later to be a Hudson Bay Company Post; of aid to the earliest settlers. Similarly the settlers wanting to travel upstream by water to Lower Allumette Lake, another widening of the Ottawa's channel, could take the easier Lower Canada (Quebec) side of the numerous islands and turbulent waters of the Paquette Rapids area. This cottage area now accessed from Rapid Road is still a hazardous waterway for the novice boater. No matter how treacherous the voyage, the settlers were buying along the river frontage first.  Later when an adequate road system came into being, the next wave of settlers moved inland from the Ottawa shoreline.

Clockwise Settlement Around the Big Bend

The main surveyed blocks are named as they sit on the river shoreline   Those names or labels are listed here clockwise around the "Big Bend" of the peninsula.

The Westmeath Papers

***Click on maps to enlarge*** 1.  NORTH  FRONT A Concessions - on  Lower Allumette Lake - the clock's 7 & 8 position Lots here run through from the Lower Allumette Lake shoreline, (Moore's Beach & Bellow's Bay areas), to the Hila Road and extend northward ending at the sixth concession.  North Front A was the area surveyed at the shore of the Lower Allumette Lake from roughly just past the Westmeath Road-Lover's Lane intersection westward to the Chaffey's Corners intersection of the Westmeath and Beachburg Roads.  To locals this river frontage is known for its provincial parkland, (the Westmeath Provincial Park), at Bellows Bay;  and the cottage area of Moore's Beach. The North Front A Lots are: 2.  WEST FRONT EAST Concessions - on Paquette Rapids and  Lower Allumette Lake - the clock's 9 & 10 positions West Front East is the surveyed area to the north of the Village of Westmeath along the  north end of Lower Allumette Lake and the Paquette Rapids.  This is popular year-round or cottage country with many cottage roads/trails leading in to the river frontage from Rapid Road.  The West Front East Lots run through to the Wright Road.  Lots in this section are long and narrow starting at Gore Line going north to Timm Road. 3. COULONGE LAKE (CL) FRONTS A and B, with Concessions 1, 2, 3 and 4 - Across the top of the peninsula - the clock's 11, 12 & 1 positions  With "A" from  the shoreline of the main body of   Lake Coulonge, and "B" from the shoreline where the river narrows to the west of Hennessy Bay.  Concession A lots run back from the shore's low water mark to the Yakabuskie Road allowance.   Concessions 1 to 3,  at  Yakabuski Road, Dupuis Line, and Bromley Line  run southward; while Concession 4 lots run northward from the  Gore Line. All have the "CL" label. This Front B Lot is further upstream at the point where the river swings round to the north-west: 4. NORTH FRONT D Concession - the easterly end of Coulonge Lake (Lacroix Bay)  - the clock's 1 & 2 positions North Front C and DWith lots  north and east at the easterly end of Lake Coulonge,  in a cottage area serviced by Lacroix Road,  Coulonge Trail and  Greenway Drive.  No Westmeath Papers available for these lots. 5. EAST FRONT "B" and  EAST FRONT "C" Concessions  - Lower Coulonge Lake  at LaPasse (C) - at clock's 3 position to the  Rochu Fendu (B) - at clock's 4 position. East Front C lots are narrow from the river shoreline at LaPasse, westward inland to Nicolai Road allowance.  Gore Line is the divide between the two concessions. Southeast of Gore Line (East Front B), narrow lots from shoreline serviced by various cottage trails, ending at the corner of Powers and Grants Settlement Roads.   MUSK  RAT LAKE:  Natives and early explorers and settlers used this long finger lake as the easier portage route to avoid the rapids of the Ottawa River, found in the more hazardous trip around the peninsula.  "Mussie" is the lake monster said to inhabit its depths. The Snake River watershed drains into this lake.  At the top end of the lake, the Muskrat River winds its way to finally join the Ottawa River at Pembroke.  An elevation of granite outcrop at the Meath Hill area, is the beginning of the Greenwood community. Meath is sometimes called Lower Greenwood in some old documents. The geology of the Muskrat Fault Surveyed lots and concessions are set out in relation to the shores of Muskrat Lake, (early spellings give it as two words:  Musk and Rat),  and run in an easy to manage grid pattern, with concessions of one mile distance. The 2 West Musk Rat Lake (WML) concessions are on the lake's western shore and the 10 East Musk Rat Lake (EML) concessions fill in the "interior" of the township. East Musk Rat Lake lots and concessions have the EML notation and start at the lake shoreline and end at the Gore Line.  These concessions run south-eastward to Fletcher Road, the old township line with Ross Township. Crown Land What is a  Clergy Reserve?  These are three examples of Clergy Reserves found in historic Westmeath Township.
"Clergy Reserves were tracts of land in Upper Canada reserved for the support of  "Protestant clergy" by the Constitution Act of 1791 which also established Upper and  Lower Canada as distinct regions each with an elected assembly. One-seventh of all Crown lands were set aside. "The reserves were allotted in two hundred acre (80 ha) lots.  They were scattered haphazardly and were a serious obstacle to economic development. The Legislative Assembly of Upper Canada passed a law to sell the reserves in 1840, but it was disallowed by the imperial British government. "In the 1840s, a  bill was passed distributing the profits of the clergy reserves amongst all leading Protestant groups.  The lands were finally removed from church ownership and secularized in 1854 and the revenues from the reserves were transferred to the government. "Reform of the Clergy Reserves was a major issue in Canadian politics from its creation until its abolition. The controversy stemmed from the fact that many supporters of the religious endowment were part of the Tory ruling class. "                                                                                                    -  from Wikipedia
West Musk Rat Lake lots and concession have the WML notation and run from the lake shoreline for two concessions through to  the Snake River Line, the old township line with the Township of Bromley.  These concessions ran to the old Municipality of  Cobden in the south end of Muskrat Lake. Two Aids for finding your Ancestor's Land: 1.  The maps supplied here with the Westmeath Papers were made using the County of Renfrew’s Geocortex  mapping software at this link:  It is an easy software to learn to use and well worth a try. You will need to know the Lot  and Concession number  for your search.  Try it here. 2.  Review the Map No. 22 if your ancestor settled in Westmeath Township in the 1800's.  It is available in the Maps section.