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

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FamilySearch Record Search This article describes a collection of historical records available at
Access the records: British Columbia, Dominion Land Branch Records, 1885-1949 .

Record Description

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 BC between 1884 and 1930 are called the Railway Belt and the Dominion Peace River Block. The BC 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 B.C. 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 CPR into British Columbia, 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 more information.

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

Citation for This Collection

The following citation refers to the original source of the information published in Historical Record collecions. Sources may include the author, custodian, publisher and archive for the original records.

Department of the Interior. Dominion Land Branch Records. British Columbia Archives, Victoria, British Columbia.

Suggested citation format for a record in this collection.

Record Content

Key genealogical facts found in the Land Files collection may include:

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

Key genealogical facts found in the Township General Registers may include:

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

Key genealogical facts found in the Homestead Grant Registers may include:

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

How to Use the Record

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 these collections. 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.

Beginning Your Search

To begin your search in this collection, it would be helpful if you knew the following information:

  • Ancestors name
  • Place of residence
  • Name of township and the number of the lot he lived on.
  • Knowing something about land description systems

Searching the Images

To browse this collection you will need to follow this series of links:
⇒ Select the "Browse" link in the initial search page
⇒ Select the "Record Type" category
⇒ Select the "File or Volume Numbers" category which takes you to the images

Look at each image one by one comparing the information with what you already know about your ancestors to determine which one is your ancestor. You may need to compare the information about more than one person to make this determination.

Related Websites

Related Wiki Articles

Contributions to This Article

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.

Citing FamilySearch Historical Collections

When you copy information from a record, you should list where you found the information. This will help you or others to find the record again. It is also good to keep track of records where you did not find information, including the names of the people you looked for in the records. A suggested format for keeping track of records that you have searched is found in the wiki article Help:How to Cite FamilySearch Collections.

Citation Example for a Record Found in This Collection

“Argentina, Buenos Aires, Catholic Church Records, 1635-1981,” images, FamilySearch ( accessed 28 February, 2012), La Plata > San Ponciano > Matrimonios 1884-1886 > image 71 of 389 images, Artemio Avendano and Clementina Peralta, 1884; citing Parroquia de San Ponciano en la Plata, Buenos Aires, Argentina, Matrimonios. San Ponciano, La Plata, Buenos Aires.