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

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British Columbia, Dominion Land Branch Records, 1885-1949 .
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This article describes a collection of records at FamilySearch.org.
British Columbia,  Canada
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Location of British Columbia, Canada
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Record Description
Record Type Land Records
Collection years 1885-1949
Languages English
Title in the Language
FamilySearch Resources
Related Websites
  • [
Archive
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.

For a list of records by document type currently published in this collection, select the Browse link from the collection landing page.

Collection Content

Sample Images

Land File records usually contain the following information:

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

Township General Registers usually contain the following information:

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

Homestead Grant Registers usually contain the following information:

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

How Do I Search the Collection?

See Images in the collection by visiting the Browse Page
⇒Select "Browse through images" on the initial collection page
⇒Select the "Record Type" category
⇒Select the “File or Volume Numbers" category which takes you to the images.

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.

Search the collection by image, comparing the information with what you already know about your ancestors to determine if the image relates to them. You may need to look at several images and compare the information about the individuals listed in those images to your ancestors to make this determination.

What Do I Do Next?

I Found Who I was Looking for, Now What?

  • Use the land record to search for your ancestor in a census.
  • Use the age to calculate a birth year.

What if I Can't Find Who I'm Looking For?

  • Don't forget to try looking for your ancestor under variations of the surname or possible nicknames.

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. http://FamilySearch.org : accessed 2016. 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.

How Can I Contribute to the FamilySearch Wiki?

We welcome user additions to FamilySearch Historical Records wiki articles. We are looking for additional information that will help readers understand the topic and better use the available records. We also need translations for collection titles and images in articles about records written in languages other than English. For specific needs, please visit WikiProject FamilySearch Records.

Please follow these guidelines as you make changes. Thank you for any contributions you may provide.