British Columbia, Dominion Land Branch Records (FamilySearch Historical Records)

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British Columbia, Dominion Land Branch Records, 1885-1949 .
This article describes a collection of records at
British Columbia,  Canada
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Location of British Columbia, Canada
Record Description
Record Type Land Records
Collection years 1885-1949
Languages English
Title in the Language
FamilySearch Resources
Related Websites
Lands Branch, Crown Land Registry Service, Lands and Parks, Victoria

What Is in the Collection?

The Land Files contain applications for homestead entry, applications for patents, and correspondence and registers relating to land settlement in the Railway Belt and the Peace River Block. Several indexes are included. The indexes included in this collection are:

  • Land Files (1885-1949)
  • Index Maps (1910-1927)
  • Township General Registers (1885-1930)
  • Homestead Grant Registers (1886-1930).

The two blocks of land where homesteading occurred in British Columbia between 1884 and 1930 are called the Railway Belt and the Dominion Peace River Block. The British Columbia Archives also holds partial land settlement records for the Railway Belt and Dominion Peace River Block.

The first federal government survey to determine the boundaries of its British Columbia Peace River land was undertaken in 1905 and 1906 by J.A. Macdonell. Macdonell's instructions were to select and locate the three and one half million acres "in one rectangular block", and to report on topographic features, climate, soil, timber, minerals, and other resources, after determining the suitability of the area for settlement.

The whole of the Peace River country was divided into two Dominion Land Agencies, and for the convenience of settlers and land seekers, a number of local offices were maintained. Each had an agent authorized to attend to the disposal of Crown lands, the control of Crown timber, and the recording of mineral claims.

About 1872, early in the homesteading era of the Prairie Provinces, the federal government adopted a survey system unlike that of eastern Canada, but similar to that of the western United States. Land was divided into square townships, each composed of 36 sections of 640 acres. The basic homestead was a quarter-section of 160 acres.

In return for the support given by the Canadian government towards the construction of the Canadian Peace River block into British Columbia, as one of the conditions of union between Canada and the colony of British Columbia, the Dominion government had been granted a belt of land 20 miles wide on each side of the line. In all, a belt 40 miles wide along the entire line running through British Columbia was to be set aside -- the so-called "Railway Belt". As compensation for lands lying within the belt that were useless for agriculture or already separated prior to the transfer, the Dominion government was to be allowed to select three and one half million acres of arable land in the Peace River District of British Columbia. To learn more about land records in Canada, go to Canada Land and Property Records.

To Browse This Collection

You can browse through images in this collection by visiting the browse page for British Columbia, Dominion Land Branch Records, 1885-1949.

What Can These Records Tell Me?

Land File records usually include:

  • Age
  • Marital status and number of children
  • Length of time in the province
  • Former residence

Township General Registers usually include:

  • Name of registrant
  • Nature of grant
  • Date of patent

Homestead Grant Registers usually include:

  • Date of application
  • Date of first occupancy
  • Date of grant
  • Name of grantee
  • Section number
  • Part of section number
  • Township number
  • Range

Collection Content

Sample Images

How Do I Search the Collection?

You can search the index or view the images or both. To begin your search it is helpful to know:

  • The name of your ancestor
  • The name of a relative or date of the event

View the Images

View images in this collection by visiting the Browse Page then:

  1. Select the "Record Type"
  2. Select the “File or Volume Numbers"

Important: Petitions usually have indexes or are filed alphabetically. Other land records for eastern Canada are often not indexed by surname but are arranged by land parcels within townships. You may have to trace a piece of property through time in order to use those land records, rather than try to trace the family name through indexes. There are indexes available in this collection of images. The indexes are in individual folders. Find your ancestor's name and look for the page, entry, certificate number or book number next to their name. This will help you find the record you are looking for in the collection.

How Do I Analyze the Results?

Compare each result from your search with what you know to determine if there is a match. This may require viewing multiple records or images.

For more tips about searching on-line collections see the on-line article FamilySearch Search Tips and Tricks.

What Do I Do Next?

I Found Who I Was Looking For, What Now?

  • Use the information to find other records such as birth, christening, census, marriage and death records.
  • Use the information to find additional family members.
  • Repeat this process with additional family members found, to find more generations of the family.
  • Church Records often were kept years before government records were required and are a good source for finding ancestors before 1900.

I Can’t Find Who I’m Looking For, What Now?

  • Try viewing the original record to see if there were errors in the transcription of the name, age, residence, etc. Remember that there may be more than one person in the records with the same name.
  • Collect entries for every person who has the same surname. This list can help you identify possible relations that can be verified by records.
  • If you cannot locate your ancestor in the locality in which you believe they lived, then try searching records of a nearby locality in an area search.
  • Standard spelling of names typically did not exist during the periods our ancestors lived in. Try variations of your ancestor’s name, especially French versions.
  • Remember that sometimes individuals went by nicknames or alternated between using first and middle names. Try searching for these names as well.
  • Search the indexes and records of British Columbia, Canada Genealogy.
  • Search in the British Columbia Archives and Libraries.
  • Search in the FamilySearch Catalog

Citing This Collection

Citing your sources makes it easy for others to find and evaluate the records you used. When you copy information from a record, list where you found that information. Here you can find citations already created for the entire collection and for each individual record or image.

Collection Citation:

"British Columbia, Dominion Land Branch Records, 1885-1949." Images. FamilySearch. : accessed 2017. Citing Department of the Interior, Dominion Lands Branch. British Columbia Archives, Victoria.

Image Citation

The image citation is available by clicking on the Information tab at the bottom left of the screen. You can browse through images in this collection by visiting the browse page for British Columbia, Dominio...Branch Records, 1885-1949.

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