Manitoba Land and Property Records
In Manitoba, land records are one of the areas where genealogists can learn much about their ancestors. This is particularly true if your ancestors were homesteaders or were one of the early settlers. However, to make the best use of the land records one must understand the survey system and how the first land was allocated.
- 1 What’s Available on the Internet
- 2 Map of Manitoba
- 3 History
- 4 Red River Settlement Land Records, 1811-1892
- 5 Crown Land Records 1870-1930
- 6 Understanding the Terms
- 7 How the Crown Land Was Allocated
- 8 Homestead Land
- 9 Crown Land Records at the Archives of Manitoba
- 10 Parish Files 1874-1959
- 11 Hudson’s Bay Company Land
- 12 Dominion Lands Act
- 13 Homestead and Pre-emption Lands
- 14 Land Agencies
- 15 Land Titles
- 16 Archives of Manitoba
- 17 Manitoba Natural Resources
- 17.1 Land Surveyors Field Books 1869-1983
- 17.2 Township and Parish Plans and Plats 1870-1930
- 17.3 Township Registers 1870-1930
- 17.4 Parish and Settlement General Registers ca.1870-1930
- 17.5 “Grants to Half-Breeds” Registers 1880-1881
- 17.6 Historic Holders Index Finding Aid
- 17.7 Homestead Files ca.1870-1930
- 17.8 Parish Files 1874-1959
- 17.9 Fiats ca.1872-1930
- 18 Métis and Scrip
- 19 Hudson’s Bay Company Archives
- 20 Manitoba Genealogical Society
- 21 Land Title Offices
- 22 For Further Reading
- 23 References
What’s Available on the Internet
- Library and Archives Western Land Grants (1870-1930)- Contains a database of certificates of land grants. The information provided is full name of individual and the plot of land that has been granted.
- Glenbow Museum - Archives CPR Land Sales has a database of CPR Land Sales searchable by name or land location. “The CPR Land Sales Catalogue contains records of sales of agricultural land by the Canadian Pacific Railway to settlers in Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta from 1881 to 1927. The information includes the name of purchaser, legal description of land, number of acres purchased, and cost per acre.”
- Saskatchewan Archives Board-Supplement to Homestead Maps of Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Northern and Southern Alberta 1916
Websites of Interest
- Library and Archives Canada
- Archives of Manitoba
- Hudson’s Bay Company Archives
- Manitoba Genealogical Society Inc.
- Métis Culture & Heritage Resource Centre
Map of Manitoba
In 1670 the Hudson’s Bay Company was given by Royal Charter the territory which is now Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta. The employees of the Hudson’s Bay Company were the first European settlers to inhabit the area. York Factory was founded at the mouths of the Nelson and Hayes Rivers in 1682 with La Vérendry establishing Fort Rouge in 1738 and Fort Gibralter (now Winnipeg) being built in 1809.
The late 17th century and early 18th century brought the adventurers and fur traders to the west but land ownership was not their focus and therefore “land records for property purchases” as such were not created. The Hudson’s Bay Company did create records of these early inhabitants and should be consulted for this time period and beyond.
The arrival of the Selkirk Settlers (sponsored by Lord Selkirk) in 1812 heralded the use of land for agriculture. These Scottish immigrants settled on the banks of the Red River near Fort Gibraltar. The account books of the Red River Settlement covering the period from 1811 to 1871 are to be found at the Hudson’s Bay Archives as well as service records of some employees, history sheets of various posts, and land registered from the Company.
Land grants in Manitoba prior to 1870 were basically under the control of the Hudson’s Bay Company. These early land records cover the years from 1811 to 1833 (Land Register “A”) and about 1830 to 1871 (Land Register “B”). There are also some land registration and sales volumes for the years from 1823 to 1862 in existence.
When the jurisdiction over Crown lands was transferred to the Dominion of Canada in 1870, the records resulting from the sale of properties were now under the government’s care.
Red River Settlement Land Records, 1811-1892
The first survey divided the land into river lots along the Red River from Pembina to Lower Fort Gary and along the Assiniboine River from the junction of the Red River to Portage la Prairie.
These river lots were long narrow lots similar to those in Quebec. Each lot had 660 feet of river frontage and extended back from the river to a road called the “Two Mile Road.” It then extended a further two miles to the “Four Mile Road.” The latter land was also called hay grazing or hay privilege land.
There was also a road that ran parallel to the river. Settlers held their land by grant or sale from the Hudson’s Bay Company. Records of the transactions were made by the Hudson’s Bay Company or the Council of Assiniboia. When this land became part of Canada in 1869, the lots were renumbered to conform with the new survey system.
Correlation Book of Hudson’s Bay Company and Dominion Government Survey Numbers enables the researcher to use the original lot number to find the new number.
The records today are found at the Archives of Manitoba. Company Land Register “A” contains the documents from 1811-1833, and Register Book “B” contains the documents from 1839-1871. Information about further records can be found on the Archives of Manitoba web page
Crown Land Records 1870-1930
The Dominion Land Survey
Canada purchased Rupert’s Land from the Hudson’s Bay Company in 1869 but before the land could be settled it had to be surveyed. Under the Dominion Land Survey a grid system was established to create townships of equal sizes.
This was accomplished by setting the first or principal meridian at 97E 27' 28.4" west longitude which is about twelve miles west of Winnipeg, near Headingley. From this point ranges were set every six miles both east and west of the first meridian. As a result Manitoba has land descriptions both east of first meridian "E1" or west of the first meridian "W1".
In order to complete the grid townships were created by using the United States/Canada border as township one and setting the remaining townships every 6 miles going north. These newly formed divisions, also called townships, were then divided into 36 sections each of which was divided into quarters.
The surveyors also established baselines and correction lines, which run east and west, to ensure the size of townships would remain consistent despite the curvature of the earth. These correction lines occur every 24 miles, starting 12 miles north of the Canada/United States border, and cause boundaries and roads to jog to the west (west of the prime meridian) or the east (east of the prime meridian.).
The result can be clearly seen with the southern part of the border between Manitoba and Saskatchewan Road allowances were created between each sections every mile going east and west and every two miles going north of Township 26.
Understanding the Terms
- a line running north and south set every four degrees longitude apart
- the prime or first meridian is set at 97E 27' 28.4" west longitude which is just west of Winnipeg at Headingley
- surveyors set a peg every six miles east and west of the first meridian to create long narrow strips of land
- ranges west of meridian one are numbered east to west and noted W1
- ranges that are east of the prime meridian are numbered from west to east and noted E1
- surveyors set a peg at the 49th parallel, which is the United States/Canada border, and every 6 miles going north to establish the township lines
- these lines then form a grid about six miles by six miles which are called townships
- each township was then divided into 36 sections
Sections in a township
- more or less a mile square consisting of 640 acres
- further subdivided into quarters of 160 acres
- quarters referred to as NW, NE, SW, SE
How to Read and Find Western Canada’s Land Descriptions
- To read NW 26-14-15 W1
- North West Quarter, Section 26, Township 14, Range 15, West of the First Meridian.
- To find you start at the far right side and work to the left.
|| tells us that the starting point is the First Meridian or Principal Meridian |
|| tells us that this is range 15 to the west of W1|
|| tells us that this is township line 14 north of the 49th parallel |
|| tells us that this is section 26 within the township|
|| tells us that this is the north west quarter of the section 26|
|| the nearest post office is Neepawa, Manitoba|
How the Crown Land Was Allocated
The Dominion Land Act of 1872 set out the policy for administering the Crown land in western Canada. Under the Act land was set aside as free homestead and school land. As part of the original purchase agreement with the Hudson’s Bay Company Crown land was set aside for the Hudson’s Bay Company. Grants of land were made to railway companies as an incentive to build railways throughout the west. Reserves were set aside in Manitoba for ethnic groups such as the Mennonites in southern Manitoba and Icelandic community at Gimli as well as for colonization companies. Legislation was enacted on April 25, 1871 to set aside 1,400,000 acres of land in Manitoba for Half Breed residents of Manitoba. Further land was allocated for Indian reserves, Military Bounty Grants and Drainage and Swamp land in the Province of Manitoba. On 01 July 1873 the Department of the Interior was made responsible for this Crown land including the natural resources. In 1930 the remaining Crown land in Manitoba was transferred to the province. Many of the records have since been transferred to the Archives of Manitoba.
To encourage people to settle western Canada the government of Canada offered 160 acres of land as a homestead grant.
Free homestead. 1872-1930
The even numbered sections within each township, except for 8 and 26, were designated as homestead land. Adult men or women who were the sole support of their family were eligible to apply for a homestead. To qualify the settler had to pay a $10 registration fee, break and crop 30 acres of land, live on the homestead for at least six months of the year, build a substantial house and barn, and fence some land. After three years the homesteader would make a sworn statement to say that these requirements had been met. At this time those who were not British subjects had to become Naturalized British subjects. If the homesteader passed the inspection, a patent would be issued which was taken to the Land Titles office where the title for the land would be issued.
Pre-emption 1871-1890 and 1908-1918
A pre-emption was a further 160 acres of Crown land, adjacent to the homestead, that the homesteader could apply for at the same time that the homestead was applied for or once the patent for the homestead had been received. To qualify for the pre-emption the homesteader had to complete the homestead requirements. The pre-emption land was purchased for a set fee of $2 or $3 an acre. To receive the patent for the pre-emption the homesteader had to cultivate 50 acres of land, reside for six months of the year on the land, at the homestead or with a relative within a nine mile radius of the pre-emption.
Purchased Homestead 1871-1918
A purchased homestead was a further 160 acres of Crown land, within a nine-mile radius of the homestead. The homesteader could apply for this land at the same time that the homestead was applied for or once the patent for the homestead had been received. To qualify for the purchased homestead the homesteader had to complete the homestead requirements. The land was purchased for a set fee of $2 or $3 per acre. A one-third down payment was required with the balance to be paid in five equal installments. To receive the patent the homesteader had to cultivate 50 acres of land, reside for six months of the year at the homestead or with a relative within a nine mile radius of the purchased homestead.
Documents in The Homestead File and How They Help Genealogists
- Application for Entry
The application form contains the land location, name and signature of the applicant, the date and where the application was made. More recent forms included ages of all the people in the family but no names of these family members were given.
|Not all applications have survived. For those that have note what kind of an application is in the file, whether it was made by the person, by proxy or on behalf of a minor. Note any changes in family make up from the time of the application until the Sworn Statement was made. Also note where the application was made because this could be a clue about where to look for other records for the homesteader.|
- Sworn Statement in Support of the Application for a Homestead Patent
When the requirements established by the Dominion Lands Act were completed the homesteader made a sworn statement to this effect. The information in the statement provides the name, age and post office address of the applicant and whether they are a British subject or a Naturalized British subject. Other questions ask for the date of entry, the date building began on the house, the portion of the year that the homesteader lived on the land and if absent where they were and what they were doing. Another question asked was of whom the family consisted and when they commenced residence on the homestead. Further questions asked about the number of acres that were broken and cropped each year, the numbers and kinds of livestock had each year, the size and value of the house and barn. Note the date and place where the document was signed.
If the applicant was not a British subject there will be a stamp on the document that indicates the date of naturalization and the date that the document was seen. The Naturalization certificate was to be returned to the applicant but sometimes the copy is still in the file.
|If there is a stamp on the file indicating a seed grain incumbrance. A seed grain incumbrance was a lien indicating that the homesteader had borrowed money to purchase seed and had not paid the money back when the sworn statement was made. Occasionally the Bond will be found in the file.|
- Sworn Statement of Two Neighbours
These statements were given by two neighbours who had to have known the applicant for three years in Canada. They were swearing that the information contained in the Sworn Statement was correct
- Notification of Patent
The notice that the patent was being sent to the homesteader is often part of the file. The actual certificate was taken to Land Titles office to prove that they had title to the land. Rarely is theCertificate of Recommendation for Homestead Patent found in the file. If the certificate still exists it would be part of the family papers.
Other Papers That May Be Found in the Homestead File
- A statutory declaration was made if the homesteader was unable to fulfill the requirements within the three year time frame. The questions were similar to those asked on the sworn statement except for the last one that asked for the special circumstances such as illness, accident or lack of means which should be considered by the Department of the Interior. The answer to this question could have a lot of information that is of interest to the genealogist.
- Correspondence was not usually microfilmed unless it dealt with disputes or if people were using the information in the homestead file to prove age and residency in Canada for pension or citizenship purposes.
- The Naturalization certificate occasionally will be found in the file although it was supposed to have been returned to the homesteader.
- Applications for others who may have applied for the particular homestead and failed to complete the requirements. Along with this there could be a Declaration of Abandonment certificate indicating why the homesteader wished to abandon this particular piece of property.
- Some files contain a copy of the Homestead Inspector’s Report. This report records the information about the homestead location, the date of entry, the size and construction of the house, stables and granary along with the value of each, the amount of land broken and cropped and information about the stock. Questions are also asked about the nature of the soil, the area fit for cultivation, marsh or lake, timber and hay land on the homestead. There was also space for general remarks.
Crown Land Records at the Archives of Manitoba
The homestead files were transferred to the Archives of Manitoba after the Crown lands were transferred to the province. These files as well as other records created by the Department of the Interior are now available for research at the archives. Subsequent land transactions are found in the Land Titles offices.
Finding Aid: The Historic Holders Report
The “Historic Holders” report consists of a nominal listing of all individuals who obtained patent to Crown land through homestead entry, purchase or grant. It includes the legal description, type of grant, size, date of entry and date of patent.
Homestead Files 1870-1930
Copies of the homestead files are found on microfilm at the archives.
Fiats 1870-ca. 1930
The fiat is the form used to request that letters patent be issued. It shows the name, address, legal land description, the size and type of grant. Paper copies of the fiats are found at the archives arranged by legal land description.
Township General Registers ca. 1870-1976
Township registers are arranged by meridian and range. They contain the names of everyone who applied for Crown land up to the date of the final grant. These are large books which have not been microfilmed.
Parish and Settlement Registers ca. 1870-1976
Provide the name of the patentee, nature of grant and date of transaction. Includes names of persons who entered a homestead but did not obtain a patent.
Township and Parish Cadastral Plans ca. 1870-1930
Consist of Department of Interior cadastral plans for townships and parishes. The township plans show the name of patentees and patent numbers. Parish Plans provide the name of the owner and parish lot numbers.
Parish Files 1874-1959
Consist of documents that establish ownership and occupancy of parish lots in the Red River Settlement as required to obtain patent under the 1870 Manitoba Act. Contains information on pre-1870 settlers, including personal data, use of land and improvements. The majority of files cover the period 1878-1930. Where title was disputed or land reserved, files continue until 1959. The series is incomplete. Missing files may be in the Department of the Interior Manitoba Act Files available on microfilm at the archives. Some files may still be with Manitoba Natural Resources.
- Archives of Manitoba
Tel. (866) 626-4862
130-200 Vaughan Street
Winnipeg, Manitoba R3C 1T5
- Archives of Manitoba
Hudson’s Bay Company Land
Under the terms of the original purchase agreement with the Hudson’s Bay Company blocks of land around its trading posts and 1/20th of the land in the ‘Fertile Belt’ were set aside as Hudson’s Bay Company Land. This land is identified as Section 8 and Section 26 except for the NE quarter of Section 26 which was designated as homestead land in every township. But in every fifth township the Hudson’s Bay Company had all of Section 26. In some townships the HBC could have other townships if the Dominion Government required the land for other purposes.
Finding Aid RG 1, Series 21
The records for the sale of the Hudson’s Bay Land are found in the Hudson’s Bay Company Archives in Winnipeg. In order to access the records you need to consult RG 1, Series 21, Record of HBC Lands to find the land description. These are arranged in 17 volumes by township and range, Volumes 18 and 19 are the sections other than sections 8 and 26.
When you find the correct entry note the contract number which is listed on the left-hand side of the page which is headed “Area Sold, Surrendered or Otherwise Disposed of.” Beware that not all agreements for sale were completed so there could be more than one entry per quarter-section. You will need the contract number in order to access the Farm Land Agreements.
Hudson’s Bay Company Farm Lands Register of Sales
RG 1, Series 25 1879-1910 consists of eight volumes for the period 1879-1910. Each register is organized numerically according to the sale number found in the finding aid. The entry for each sale includes the name of the purchaser, the location of the land and the amounts of the installments paid as well as details concerning the delivery of the deed of property. Subsequent land transactions are found in Land Title offices.
Dominion Lands Act
Letters Patent either grant or confirm title to a portion of land. They are issued as the first title to land and serve as proof that the land has been alienated from the Crown. Before Letters Patent could be issued to a homesteader, the land had to be accurately described and located through cadastral surveys.
As well, the Dominion Lands Act required that each homesteader provide proof that the land had been improved; that it had increased in value or utility through some additions (cultivation, building construction, etc.) costing labour and/or capital. The Dominion Lands Act clearly stipulated what improvements had to be made to a land grant before a homesteader would be issued his/her Letters Patent by the Crown.
When a homesteader felt that he met all conditions of his homestead entry, as outlined in the Dominion Lands Act, he filed an application with his local Dominion Lands Office. On receipt of an application from the local lands office, the Dominion Lands Board had the responsibility of undertaking all initial screening and validation of the claim, including the dispatching of a homestead inspector to the property to confirm that the proper improvements had been made. If the Board approved the application, it would then be forwarded to Ottawa to issue the patent.
For grants made by the provinces after 1930 or any land transactions subsequent to the issuance of the original Letters Patent, the appropriate provincial authorities must be consulted. Such transactions are not recorded in the Federal Land Records.
In 1871, an order-in-council initiated a uniform land survey of the three Prairie Provinces as well as the railway belt of British Columbia. The comprehensive indexing of the legal land descriptions resulting from the survey formed the basis of the Dominion Land Grants searchable database, at the Library and Archives Canada. When available, individual names have also been indexed.
This specialty database relates exclusively to Letters Patent issued by the Lands Patent Branch of the Department of the Interior. The records refer to grants issued in Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta and the railway belt of British Columbia, c.1870-1930.
The database, “Western Land Grants” is searchable on the Internet by name, location or keyword.
The Library and Archives Canada have an alphabetical list of all those who applied for homesteads under the Dominion Land Act but retain no records. You need to provide the name and/or a geographic location. They can supply the land location and the file number. This will provide you with the key to the specific record you are looking for.
Homestead and Pre-emption Lands
The land was surveyed into a township system consisting of blocks 24 miles square; each block contains 16 townships. Every township is sub-divided into 36 “sections” each containing one square mile or 640 acres, more or less.
Macoun, John, Manitoba and the Great North West (Guelph, Ontario: World Publishing Company 1882).
“All even numbered sections, (except 8 and 26, which were Hudson’s Bay Company Lands) were available to settle. Odd numbered sections (with exception of 11 and 29, which were School Lands) for 24 miles on each side of the Canadian Pacific Railway, were generally slated to be railway lands, purchasable from the Company and not open to homestead and preemptions.” See the diagram dividing the land into various sections as shown.
Homestead records identify the Section, Township, Range and Meridian of the piece of property. For example:
Homestead locations can be located from the Township and Range numbers. Townships run from South to North beginning with Township 1 at the U.S. Canada border and incrementing northward. Ranges run East to West beginning at a meridian and incrementing westward. First, locate the Township by going north to the given number, in this example 32. Then find the Meridian and go west (to the left) to the Range, in this case 6. When the grid location is found, look for the Part, in this case NW, so the property would be in the upper left quarter of the grid.
These records are found at the Archives of Manitoba.
The land transactions from 1871 to 1885 were registered under the “old system” (see Archives of Manitoba for description of this system).
The boom of 1881 and 1882 brought by the building of the railway increased the land values. The Canadian Pacific Railway was running south of the Assiniboine and people poured in by the hundreds trying to buy land close to the railroad. Brandon experienced a huge amount of activity in the land speculation department.
Elsewhere in Western Manitoba many other settlements were experiencing the same growth rate. However, by the late 1880’s the homesteading rate in southwest Manitoba had declined, with the result being the reorganization of the Lands Districts.
In 1890the Dufferin Agency was merged with that of Winnipeg and in 1891 a large part of the Little Saskatchewan Agency was set apart as the Lake Dauphin Sub-District. It was operated as a temporary office in the beginning but by 1893 the Dauphin office was open year round.
Also in 1893, the Birtle and Turtle Mountain offices were closed and their districts merged with those of the Souris and Little Saskatchewan agencies. In 1896 Lake Dauphin was designated a separate district. In 1898 a branch office was opened in Swan River and the Lake Dauphin district was further enlarged in 1899. In the meantime, agencies were renamed according to the location of the office: Brandon, Minnedosa and Dauphin.
In 1903 a sub-Agent was located at Ranchvale to service the Ukrainian settlement south of Riding Mountain. The Minnedosa Office was closed in 1906. There was little land left here now; the District was merged with Dauphin. In 1908 the office in Ranchvale was closed as well.
In 1901 the agencies were redefined to conform to provincial boundaries. The Brandon Office was thus deprived of most of its vacant lands; the office was closed in 1916 and such business as remained was transferred to Winnipeg. Thereafter, the only Dominion Lands Office in Western Manitoba was at Dauphin.
A PDF copy of Supplement to Homestead Maps of Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Northern and Southern Alberta,1916 which contains a synopsis of the regulations concerning the granting of homesteads, grazing leases and timber berths is available on the Internet. It describes what land is available, who may access that land, what the duties are of the homesteader, how to access the land and pre-empt adjacent land, as well as other pertinent information such as how many bushels of grain to expect from an acre of land and the progress of the railway through the west. If your ancestor was one of the homesteaders, this type of information would make a nice addition to your family history story.
Land Records since 1870 are registered at the Land Titles Office at one of the six areas of Manitoba (listing follows). Before 1870 most land records are found through the Hudson’s Bay Company Archives. Between 1870 and 1885, land was registered under the “old English system.” This system did not provide the titles to property, but only recorded the transactions. At each transaction, the chain of ownership had to be established through the Crown.
Since 1885, land registration in Manitoba has been based upon the Torrens System and the chain of ownership is not identified. Using the Torrens System the titles number or the Land Description must be established before the land record is searched.
The latter information is obtainable from the Surveyor’s Department at the Land Titles Office. Boissevain records have been transferred to Brandon. Records for Northern Manitoba are now housed at Portage La Prairie.
Land grants in Manitoba prior to 1870 were basically under the control of the Hudson’s Bay Company. These early land records are found in the Hudson’s Bay Company Archives at the Provincial Archives. They cover the years 1811–1833 (Land Register “A”) and about 1830–1871 (Land Register “B”). Some land registration and sales volumes for the years 1823–1862 also exist.
In 1870, jurisdiction over Crown lands was transferred from the Hudson’s Bay Company to the Dominion of Canada. The land was surveyed and sold to homesteaders by the Dominion government until 1930. In that year jurisdiction over land transactions was given to the provincial governments of Manitoba, Saskatchewan, and Alberta.
All land transactions following the initial Crown grants from 1871 to 1885 were registered under the “old system.” This system did not provide the titles to property, but only recorded the transactions. In 1885, the Torrens system was adopted. The Torrens system provided the land titles themselves as well as a registry of transactions.
Homestead records are found in the Provincial Archives.
Microfilmed records of land grants prior to 1930 are available through the Crown Lands Registry in Winnipeg.
You may also search original township registers, fiats, and supporting documentation at the Provincial Archives for records of land grants. Subsequent land transfers are registered in the seven local Land Titles Offices throughout the province. For their addresses contact the Registrar at Land Titles Office in Winnipeg (see the ”Archives and Libraries” section of this outline).
To obtain access to land records in Manitoba it is necessary to know the exact legal description of the land. There are three sources that can help in determining this description:
• The alphabetical index to patentees in Western Canada, 1873–1930
• The alphabetical index of half-breed and white settlers’ claims, 1870–1885
• Various rural directories, 1881–1922
The first two sources are at the Library and Archives Canada.
Archives of Manitoba
The records of the provincial Archives are divided into two sections. The first is prior to 1870 containing documents related to the Red River Settlement. The second is post 1870 and often includes more detailed information pertaining to the province of Manitoba.
To obtain access to land records in Manitoba it is necessary to know the exact legal description of the land.
There are three sources that can help in determining this description; the first two are at the Library and Archives Canada:
1. The alphabetical index to patentees in Western Canada (as discussed above)
2. The alphabetical index of half-breed and white settlers’ claims, 1870-1885
3. Various rural directories, 1881-1922
Archives of Manitoba Land Records Listings
The following information has been accessed in the publication of “Selected Manitoba Government Records” provided by the Archives of Manitoba, September 1998. There are no restrictions on the use of any of the records listed in this brochure. Access permissions are not required.
The entire publication containing Court, Municipal and School Records descriptions can be obtained by contacting the Archives.
There is also a Guide to Government Records in the Provincial Archives that is available in the Archives’ Research Room. The Guide provides summary descriptions of all records transferred to the Provincial Archives and also includes detailed lists of many series.
Remember these records were created in the daily lives of our ancestors by various government offices and were not created in order for you to use them in your genealogical quest. Your patience and diligence will be necessary to learn to use them and thus provide you with the information you are searching.
- Archives of Manitoba
130 - 200 Vaughan Street
Winnipeg, Manitoba R3C 1T5
Manitoba Natural Resources
The records are held under Manitoba Natural Resources (at the Archives) as follows:
Land Surveyors Field Books 1869-1983
Consists of: Filed notes compiled by Dominion and Provincial Surveyors, recording mainly technical data and natural features of the land. Documents are arranged by numerical order. There is an index by legal description. List Numbers: GR 1601; GR 2630; GR 2884
Township and Parish Plans and Plats 1870-1930
Consists of: Department of Interior cadastral plans which portray natural features of the land and record names of patentees and patent numbers. Documents are arranged by their legal description. List Numbers: Township Plans GR 2404; Parish Plans GR 2405
Township Registers 1870-1930
Consists of: Registers maintained in the Department of Interior providing names of homesteaders and dates of the transactions. Includes names of patentees as well as those who did not obtain patent. Documents are arranged by their legal description. List Number: GR 2133
Parish and Settlement General Registers ca.1870-1930
Consists of: Department of Interior registers recording names of people who obtained Crown land in the parishes along the Red and Assiniboine Rivers and in towns and settlements. Provides nature and number of the land grant and date and number of patent. Documents are arranged by their legal description by parish or settlement. List Number: GR 2403; Location: G 5463; G 5465
“Grants to Half-Breeds” Registers 1880-1881
Consists of: Copies of the “Grants to Half-Breeds” Registers, certified by the Acting Surveyor General, Dominion Lands Office, Department of Interior. The Registers record the allotment of lands to Métis under the Manitoba Act of 1870, which provided for 1,400,000 acres of unspecified land to be distributed to individual claimants. They provide:
- the claim number
- claimant’s name
- parent’s name
- year when claimant would be 18 years old
- grant number
- date of allotment
- legal description of the allotment
- patent date
- occasionally, remarks
|Copies include only 2 volumes covering the Parishes of St. Norbert, St. François Xavier and Baie St. Paul. The original registers are at Library and Archives Canada (RG 15 vol. 1556-1573) and are available on microfilm in the Provincial Archives of Manitoba Research Room (reels C-11885 to C-11886). Documents are arranged by reference number and claim number. List Number: GR 2217|
Historic Holders Index Finding Aid
Consists of: Crown Land Registry System index to people who obtained patent to Crown land through homestead entry, purchase, or grant. Provides:
- legal description of the land
- type of holding
- date of entry
- date of patent
The index is created by Manitoba Natural Resources, Crown Lands Branch and is based on the General Registers listed above and current Crown land information. Documents are arranged by name and by legal description. Microfiche copy is available in the Research Room (updated annually).
Homestead Files ca.1870-1930
Consists of: Department of Interior files, on microfilm, documenting the administration of Dominion lands made available for settlement, through homestead entry, sale, grant and preemption. Includes applications, inspectors’ reports and correspondence. Naturalization and citizenship documents may be included. Applicants who did not obtain patent are also recorded. These documents are arranged by their legal description. List Number: GR 2060
Parish Files 1874-1959
Consists of: Documentation relating to the establishment of ownership and occupancy of parish lots in the Red River settlement, in order to obtain patent under the 1870 Manitoba Act. Includes information on pre-1870 settlers, including personal data, use of the land, and improvements. A detailed finding aid is available. These documents are arranged by parish and lot number. List Number: GR 2671
|Series is incomplete. Missing files may be in the Department of Interior Manitoba Act Files (Microfilm Reels C-14902 to C-14924) or with Manitoba Natural Resources.|
Consists of: Forms prepared in the Patent Branch of the Department of Interior, to authorize the preparation of Letters Patent. Provides name, address and occupation of the person receiving patent, legal description of the land and size, type and number of the grant. These are arranged mainly by their legal description. List Number: GR 128
|Letters Patent are held by the Library and Archives Canada, 395 Wellington Street, Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0N4, Telephone 613-995-5115.|
Métis and Scrip
The Manitoba Act of 1870 provided for the settlement of aboriginal land claims in western Canada, by which thousands of individual Métis files of genealogical value were created. Scrip is a word used to denote a money equivalent paid to a person in place of a land grant. Manitoba Métis Scrip Registers (1870-1885) are found at Library and Archives Canada in their RG 15, D II 8b series. This series is arranged alphabetically, with an index. Names of parents and/or spouse and children are recorded along with other identifying information. Although a date of birth may be inaccurate, it is a starting point for further research; it might also be the only such reference in many cases.
Also at Library and Archives Canada, in RG 15, D II 8a series, is a collection of Manitoba parish registers by which land grants were given “in random fashion” to children of Métis (previously known by the earlier term of half breed). Métis claims for land grants were considered apart from white settlers and status Indians. The grants are arranged by claim number, running from 1875-1880 and are microfilmed. Many of these records are being digitized online at LAC website.
See also the previous section on “Half-Breed” Registers.
Gail Morin’s book Manitoba Scrip and Northwest Half-Breed Scrip, 1885 summarizes the first two series of Métis scrip applications. She has written other books on Métis families and the Glenbow Museum has a database of her work on pedigree charts of 40,000 families. The following organizations and addresses can be very useful:
- Métis Culture and Heritage Resource Centre
504 - 63 Albert St.
Winnipeg, Manitoba R3B 1G4
- Glenbow Museum
130 - 9th Avenue SE
Calgary, Alberta T2G 0P3
Library Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Telephone - Library Reference Desk: 403-268-4197
Archives Email: email@example.com
Telephone - Archives Reference Desk: 403-268-4204
Hudson’s Bay Company Archives
As previously mentioned, the Hudson’s Bay Company was responsible for most of the records that were created prior to c.1870 (the Company was the administrator of most of Western Canada before 1870). When the arrangement was made to have the land transferred back to the Crown and then given to the Dominion of Canada and then to the province of Manitoba in 1870, the responsibility to maintain any records was also transferred to the province of Manitoba. Prior to that time the Hudson’s Bay Company had their own record keeping system in place. These documents are now housed at the Hudson’s Bay Company Archives (HBCA) and can be accessed by several methods. Land Register A covers 1811-1833 and Land Register B covers 1830-1871 approximately.
Records are listed by type and volume number. If they have been microfilmed they are referenced accordingly. The HBCA has records of various types and subjects; however, at the moment we are only dealing with the land records.
In addition to the finding aid the website will also provide you with:
- A Guide to the HBCA’s Holdings
- HBCA Classification System
- A Short Catalogue of Microfilmed Records available through Interlibrary Loan
- A List of Published Collections of HBC Documents.
You can access the HBCA records by interlibrary loan of microfilm, reading published excerpts of the HBCA Records or by viewing the microfilmed copies or the original records at the HBCA. Library and Archives Canada and The National Archives in the UK also have copies of the microfilm holdings but they must be viewed on site only. Here is the UK location:
- The National Archives
Kew, Richmond, Surrey TW9 4DU
Telephone: 44 (0) 20 8876 3444
How do you find out what is available for interlibrary loan? You can access the HBCA finding aid on the Internet OR for a more detailed finding aid you can order the microfilmed set of finding aids which are far more detailed than the online versions. The finding aid reel numbers are 1M1252, 1M1253, 20M1 and 1MA76 (the last reel number deals with post-1904 records only).
To determine which of these reels to order you need to consult the website’s microfilm catalogue. Of course, detailed finding aids are also available on site. Pre-1870 manuscript maps can also be found at the HBCA. For a description and index to these maps please consult A Country So Interesting by Dr. Richard Ruggles.
For those interested in HBC’s records, a guide entitled Biographical Resources at the Hudson’s Bay Company Archives: Volume one, by Briggs and Morton, 1996, can be consulted at the provincial Archives or can be purchased.
The physical location of the HBCA is within the Archives of Manitoba building.
- Archives of Manitoba
130 - 200 Vaughan Street
Winnipeg, Manitoba R3C 1T5
- Hudson’s Bay Company Archives
130 - 200 Vaughan Street
Winnipeg, Manitoba R3C 1T5
Manitoba Genealogical Society
- Manitoba Genealogical Society Inc.
1045 St. James Street, Unit East
Winnipeg, Manitoba R3H 1B1
Land Title Offices
- Winnipeg Land Titles Office
276 Portage Avenue
Winnipeg, Manitoba R3C 0B6
- Morden Land Titles Office
351 Stephen Street
Morden, Manitoba R6M 1V1
- Neepawa Land Titles Office
329 Hamilton Street
Neepawa, Manitoba R0J 1H0
- Brandon Land Titles Office
705 Princess Avenue
Brandon, Manitoba R7A 0P4
- Portage Land Titles Office
25 Tupper Street North
Portage la Prairie, Manitoba R1N 3K1
- Dauphin Land Titles Office
308 Main Street South
Dauphin, Manitoba R7N 1K7
For Further Reading
- Gray, James H. Boomtime: Peopling the Canadian Prairies. (Saskatoon, Saskachewan: Western Producer Prairie Books, 1979).
- Keywan, Zonia. Greater than Kings. (Montréal: Harvest House, 1977).
- Macoun, John. Manitoba and the Great North West. (Guelph, Ontario: World Publishing Company, 1882).
- Murphy, Sharon L., Brenda Dougall Merriman, and Frances Coe. "Manitoba Land Records, Part 1 (National Institute)," National Institute for Genealogical Studies (2012), https://familysearch.org/learn/wiki/en/Manitoba_Land_Records,_Part_1_%28National_Institute%29.
- Murphy, Sharon L., Brenda Dougall Merriman, and Frances Coe. "Manitoba Land Records, Part 2 (National Institute)," National Institute for Genealogical Studies (2012), https://familysearch.org/learn/wiki/en/Manitoba_Land_Records,_Part_2_%28National_Institute%29.
- Murphy, Sharon L., Brenda Dougall Merriman, and Frances Coe. "Manitoba Land Records, Part 3 (National Institute)," National Institute for Genealogical Studies (2012), https://familysearch.org/learn/wiki/en/Manitoba_Land_Records,_Part_3_%28National_Institute%29.
- Murphy, Sharon L., Brenda Dougall Merriman, and Frances Coe. "Manitoba Land Records, Part 4 (National Institute)," National Institute for Genealogical Studies (2012), https://familysearch.org/learn/wiki/en/Manitoba_Land_Records,_Part_4_%28National_Institute%29.
- Murphy, Sharon L., Brenda Dougall Merriman, and Frances Coe. "Additional Canada Land Records Resources (National Institute)," National Institute for Genealogical Studies (2012), https://familysearch.org/learn/wiki/en/Additional_Canada_Land_Records_Resources_%28National_Institute%29.