Early Governance as it Relates to Grantham Township

Information gathered by Society member Bill Stevens:


The settlement of what is now known as Ontario was precipitated by the declaration of American Independence and subsequently the fall of British rule in what is now the United States of America. Some of those wishing to remain Loyal to the British Crown fled to Fort Niagara. In May of 1781 the British purchased lands on the west side of the Niagara River from the Mississauga Indians. A small number of settlers had settled on the west side in 1780 and this number grew quickly with the land purchase and survey in 1782. In 1783 the Peace Treaty was signed and England officially recognized the U.S.A. The growing number of Loyalists resulted in the purchase of additional lands from Mississauga Indians on May 22, 1784 (and confirmed by a treaty signed on December 7, 1792). It was this second purchase that now allowed settlement in Grantham Township. Soon after the purchase settlers began to make their way into the area that would become Grantham Township. But it wasn’t until after the survey undertaken between December 27, 1787 and March 31, 1788 by Daniel Hazen of Township Number 3 (which was later called Grantham Township) that these settlers could claim their land holdings with the Land Board.


During the above time period of 1780 and 1791, the area of Grantham Township was part of the British Province of Quebec and the following were the Governors of the Province of Quebec:


1778 – 1786 – Sir Frederick Haldimand
1786 – 1795 – Sir Guy Carleton, 1st Baron Dorchester


By proclamation of July 24, 1788 Upper Quebec, now known as Ontario, was divided into four districts for the primary purpose of administering justice and land distribution. The area of Grantham Township would become part of Nassau District.


On June 19,1791 royal assent was given to the Constitutional Act which split the Province of Quebec into Lower Canada and Upper Canada. From December 26, 1791 to February 10, 1841 the area now known as Grantham Township was in the British Province of Upper Canada. The Legislature for Upper Canada consisted of 16 representatives elected by the people and the Legislative Council consisted of 7 councillors nominated by the Crown.


On July 8,1792 John Graves Simcoe was appointed the first Lieutenant-Governor of Upper Canada. He served in this position until 1798, but was in England for the last two years of his term.


On July 19, 1792 a proclamation divided the Province of Upper Canada into 19 counties. The counties would provide a basis for elections, the distribution of lands and organizing the militia. Sixteen representatives were elected to the first Legislative Assembly. Some of the representatives represented more than one county. For example, Lincoln County was divided into 4 ridings. Riding #1 shared representative Nathaniel Pettit with York and Durham counties; riding #2 returned Benjamin Pawling; riding #3 returned Isaac Swayze and riding #4 shared representative Parshall Terry with Norfolk.


The first parliament of Upper Canada met on September 17, 1792 at Newark (now Niagara On-The-Lake). At this first session of the Legislature, the names of the four districts (previously named by Lord Dorchester in 1788  were changed and the Nassau District became the Home District.


On April 9, 1793, there came into operation “An Act to provide for the nomination and appointment of Parish and Town Officers within the Province.” The era of town meetings and quarter sessions began and lasted until 1841, when Upper and Lower Canada were reunited.

In the absence of Lieutenant-Governor Simcoe, on July 21, 1796 Hon. Peter RUSSELL was appointed President of the administrative council of Upper Canada, a position he held until 1799. During his term, on October 15, 1797 the Provincial offices in Newark closed with the move of the capital to York.


On August 17, 1799 Hon. Peter HUNTER was appointed Lieutenant Governor and held this position until 1805. During his term of office, on January 1, 1800 the four districts were revised and the number of districts expanded, at which time the Home District area was changed and the District of Niagara was created. Niagara consisted of four ridings of Lincoln and Haldimand.

In 1800 the following officials of Grantham Township are known: Clerk of Peace – Ralfe Clench; Sherriff – James Clark; District Court Judge – William Dickson; Surrogate Court Judge – Dr. Robert Kerr; Surrogate Court Registrar – Allan McNabb.


The following is a list of the head of government for Upper Canada:
September 11, 1805 – 1806 – President, Administering the Province of Upper Canada  – Hon. Alexander GRANT
August 25, 1806 – 1812 – Lieutenant-Governor of Province of Upper Canada – Hon. Francis GORE (he went back to England between 1811 and 1815- in his absence the civil administration was committed successively to the senior military officer in the province)


Presidents Administering the Government of Upper Canada
October 9, 1811 – October 13, 1812 – Major-General Sir Isaac BROCK
October 20, 1812 – June 18, 1813 – Major-General Sir Roger Hale SHEAFFE, Bart.
June 19, 1813 – December 12, 1813 – Major-General Francis Baron de ROTTENBURG


Lieutenant-Governor of Upper Canada
December 13, 1813 – April 13, 1815 – Lieut. -Gen. Sir Gordon DRUMMOND, G.C.B.
April 25, 1815 – Lieut. -Gen. Sir George MURRAY
July 1, 1815 – Major-General Frederick Phipps ROBINSON, K.C.B.


Lieutenant-Governor (2nd Administration)
September 25, 1815 – 1817 – Hon. Francis GORE


June 11, 1817-1818 – Hon. Samuel SMITH


Lieutenant-Governor of Upper Canada
August 13, 1818 – 1828 – Maj.-Gen. Sir Peregrine MAITLAND, K.C.B.


Accession on March 8, 1820 – Hon. Samuel SMITH


Accession on June 30, 1820 – Maj.-Gen. Sir Peregrine MAITLAND, K.C.B.
Accession on November 5, 1828 – Maj.Gen. Sir John COLBORNE, K.C.B.
Accession on January 25, 1836 – Maj. Sir Francis Bond HEAD, K.C.B.


Accession on February 27, 1838 – Maj.Gen. Sir John COLBORNE, K.C.B.


Accession on- March 23, 1838 – Maj.Gen. Sir George ARTHUR, K.C.B.


Grantham Township records can be found in the Special Collections area of the St. Catharines Public Library. These records list the following Township Clerks as of the first meeting in January of each year: 1818 – 1819 – William CHISHOLM; 1820 – Samuel WOOD; 1821-1842 – Charles ROLLS.


February 10, 1841 – June 30, 1867 – Upper and Lower Canada became the united Province of Canada. Upper Canada became known as Canada West.


In 1841 the “District Councils Act” was passed and continued through 1849.


1849 – the “Baldwin Municipal Act” was passed which provided for the creation of municipal councils. Thus on January 1, 1850 Grantham Township was incorporated and Township Council was elected and a Reeve was elected from the elected council members by those members.


On July 1, 1867 the name Canada West was changed to the Province of Ontario

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