How to Obtain an Indian Land Patent – by Nat Bugera

Published February 1, 2020

Library and Archives Canada http://www.bac-lac.gc.ca/eng/Pages/home.aspx located in Ottawa has archivists who will search for your patent for free.  You can book a phone conversation with them or email them.  It may take them some time to locate the patent, but they are very helpful even in finding patents for Indian lands.

For Indian lands:

Start by checking the land registration office in Service Ontario in your area.  You need to know the lot and concession number and township.  These helpful people will show you how to use the microfilm machine and load the correct films in for you.  When you find your land registry record, print it.  You can then easily locate your patent date, and to whom it was issued.  The Service Ontario office has forms that can be faxed to the Ministry of Natural Resources in Peterborough where some patents are located, but not the Indian Lands patents.   Unfortunately, there is no land sale number or patent number in the records at Service Ontario.  In Owen Sound, the original land registration books are located in the archives at the Grey Roots Museum and are much easier to read.

The Indian land patents are not well organized in Ottawa and the archivist could not find ours without a patent number.  However, tremendous amounts of information can be accessed without this.  Since we live in Keppel, I was looking through Keppel files, Cape Croker files, files by township and concession and lot number and even surname.  We found microfilms of maps, original letters from previous settlers on this property, official letters from Indian Agents, lawyers, affidavits from neighbours swearing that the farmer had fulfilled settlement duties, speculators who had bought the land for pennies, petitions to reduce taxes, to be excused from settlement duties and catalogues listing this farm for sale in the British Isles. There were census records listing family members of the patentee.I learned that the Cape Croker Agency sometimes had 2 copies of official documents.  The trick was to find the correct document.  The files have creative titles and they do not always accurately reflect what is inside.  See examples at left.  When you open “context” or “detail” you will see postage sized pictures of what is in the file, some containing single sheets and some may contain hundreds of images.  You can click on them, make them a printable image and then enlarge on the screen for easier reading.  The number 4 entry just shows a request for patents to be issued.  Apparently, the request had to be on a specific form. along with affidavits from 2 people acknowledging the patentee’s good character, that he was a settler living on the land, had fulfilled settlement duties and had paid the taxes and sale price of the land in full.  The file might clearly state the patentee’s name, or it may not list any names as in number 4.  You would have to open the file and check each entry.  The file might be titled “solicitor requesting patent to be issued”.  Gamble and open it!  The Indian Agency kept registers of patents that were issued every month.  Sometimes there were two copies in the file.  Check each copy for any additional things that might have been scribbled in the margins.  I pulled up the “Cape Croker patents and May 1891”.  They listed 3 and ours was not one of them.  I checked the months leading up to May 1891.  No luck.  Yet the Land Registration Book at the Grey Roots Archives clearly stated that the patent was issued by the Crown May 1, 1891.  I could not believe that someone who had toiled for years to get a land patent would not register it in a timely fashion.  I kept widening the search and ran across a file labelled “request for patents to be issued”. It was dated March 1891, two months before the patent was issued.   I opened it and found a lot of correspondence requesting supporting documents and official printed forms listing patentees who were requesting patents be issued to them.  There were duplicate copies of these forms.  Upon closer examination, they were not exact duplicates.  One had some smudges next to the patentee’s names written in a different handwriting, almost as an afterthought.  Using the computer screen, I was able to enlarge this and read a four-digit number.  I sent this number to the archivist in Ottawa and within a couple of days, I received copies of my land patent.   The emailed copy and information were free.  I then filed a request for a certified copy.  The difference in price between a certified copy and a copy is only a few dollars.  Because the files from the Indian Agencies are not well organized or in order and are not well labelled, you might want to start with a very narrow search and then widen it out.  Pay particular attention to files with many included documents that do not specify exactly what is in them.  When I searched under Keppel, I also found info on other townships because it was on the single sheet of paper.

See images below of the Crown Patent I obtained from Library and Archives Canada.

You can contact Nat Bugera at natbugera@yahoo.ca.

For more information on Crown Land Patents and Indian Land Sales, see https://thediscoverblog.com/2017/06/19/crown-land-patents-indian-land-sales/.

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