Reports on Property Rights by Elizabeth Marshall

Elizabeth Marshall
Elizabeth Marshall

As the Ontario Landowners Association is all about educating people perhaps taking the time to seek out the reports, on the OLA website, might be something everyone should do. Here is an excerpt from the report on Crown Land Patents. See this and other reports on our website at Reports Archives – Ontario Landowners Association | Ontario Landowners Association Ontario Landowners Association | Reports Archives – Ontario Landowners Association.


Many local organizations of landowners have formed in rural Ontario in the past decade. The primary motivation of members of these organizations has been to find ways to reverse the erosion of the private property rights of the owners. Members of these organizations have been concerned with what they have perceived to be troubling incidences of uncompensated regulatory takings. While these organizations are generally united around a goal of protecting private property rights in land, sometimes referred to as land rights, there have been differences of opinion as to the best strategy to achieve this goal. The Ontario Landowners Association has focused on Crown Land Patents as a means of protecting private land rights. The purpose of this report is to provide an introduction to Crown Land Patents of private property owners situate within, the geographical boundaries of, Ontario. This introduction examines the historical, ethical and economic aspects of Crown Land Patents.

Crown Land Patents are controversial as means of protecting private landowners from questionable regulatory takings. Some writers treat Crown Land Patents as current valid positive law. According to the perspective, private landowners today can litigate against regulations and policies that violate the acquired rights contained in the Letters Patent. Others view Crown Land Patents as anachronisms – documents from a past era with little practical legal significance today, other than they are still issued in present day under the Public Lands Act1.

A third perspective treats Crown Land Patents from a normative legal perspective. This is the perspective taken in this introduction. According to this view, Crown Land Patents conveyed ownership rights to settlers. These ownership rights were reasonably comprehensive and perpetual.  Under customary common law treatment of private property and freedom of contract, sales and bequests of land from these original owners to subsequent owners would involve the transfer of the Patented rights to the new owners. Historically, however, legislative law has, from time to time, interfered with private owners’ rights. This view sees Crown Land Patents and the acquired land rights as a desirable standard to be re-established….”