When Bill Verutis bought his home on Thompson Road East in Waterford, Ontario a few years ago, he received a unique gift from his real estate agent, Penny Plunkett. It was a complete title history of the property going back to the original deed granted on behalf of King George III, dated May 2, 1802.
Plunkett is also a title searcher and member of the Ontario Genealogical Society. She used both of these resources to create a list of owners going back to 1802 along with some of the more interesting family biographies.
The earliest recorded settler in Waterford was Jon Slaght, who built a mill. The mill was burned during the War of 1812 by the forces of American General Duncan McArthur.
The person who lent the first mortgage on the Thompson Road property was Robert Hamilton. According the web site uppercanadahistory.ca, “few men in Upper Canada had the affluence of Robert Hamilton, Queenston’s most prominent and illustrious citizen. Judge, politician and entrepreneur par excellence, this “scotch pedlar’ lived the lifestyle of a gentleman, entertaining at his magnificent home overlooking the Niagara river. John Graves Simcoe, who we named Simcoe Day after, was a frequent visitor, as was the Duke of Kent and the French Duc de Rochefoucald.”
Hamilton’s son William followed was a successful businessman and amassed huge real estate holdings. The city of Hamilton was later named in his honour.
The property was sold in 1804 to the Soverign and Sovereen families who owned it until 1843. Morris Sovereen developed a milling business and was one of the founders of Waterford.
The property changed hands in Dec. 1866 when it was sold to William McMichael who was the owner when Canada was founded on July 1, 1867.
You can search title using the computerized records at the land registry office in your county or at some Service Ontario locations. Use your existing deed to find the legal description so that you can start your search. If you give your address to the Ministry staff, they should be able to assist you. It then costs $8 to find the first page of your search and to go back further in time, each additional page costs $1 each. You should then have access to a microfilm machine with an index to assist in your search. If you are interested in any deed that was registered on the property, you can order a copy of the document for fifty cents a page. You reach the beginning when you get back to the Crown Patent, which is typically between 1795-1803.
You can get help from staff at the registry offices, but there is an excellent resource that can be purchased from the Ontario Genealogical Society called: History of your Home for $9.95, from the Society website,
A home isn’t just an investment. It is a place where a family history is born. One of my parents’ proudest moments after arriving in Canada after the Second World War, was the day they purchased their first home in Toronto. It brought me a great sense of warmth and satisfaction when I took my own children to the home I grew up in, which my parents owned for 35 years.
In my law practice, I am privileged to act for people buying their first home in Ontario, starting their own family history in this great country. It’s something to think about as we celebrate Canada Day.