Series 6 - Petitions

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CA ON00394 6

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  • 1842-1849 (Creation)
    District of Brock

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16.5 inches of textual records

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(1839 - 1849)

Administrative history

From 1788-1841 local affairs in each district of Upper Canada were administered by the district court of General Quarter Sessions of the Peace, composed of magistrates appointed by the Governor or Lieutenant Governor in council. These Justices of the Peace met four times a year to try legal cases and supervise the administration of the area.

In 1841, the District Council’s Act, whereby a District Council assumed the administrative powers of the magistrates of the Quarter Sessions, effective 1 January 1842, changed this system. However, the Brock District was formed two years prior to the instituting of District Councils for local self-government, so that the Brock District Court of Quarters Sessions of the Peace administered the earliest affairs of Brock District (1840-1841).

Each District Council was composed of a warden, councillors, clerk, district treasurer, surveyor and two auditors. The Governor appointed all members with the exception of the elected councillors.

District Councils were given jurisdiction over roads, bridges, district real estate, sales, administration of justice expenses, the establishment and maintenance of schools, the fixing of district officers’ salaries, and the salaries and fees of township officers. All by-laws passed by a district council had to be submitted to the Governor in Council and might be disallowed within thirty days.

The first District Council of the District of Brock, met in the Court House, Woodstock, on Tuesday, the 8th day of February, 1842, pursuant to the Act 4th and 5th Victoria, Chapter 10th, by which Act a meeting of the Council was to be held on the second Tuesday of the months of February, May, August and November; and where no meeting was to be longer then six days. Beginning in 1846 this was changed, with council meeting twice a year, commencing on the first Tuesday in the months of February and October. Such meetings were not to be held for a period longer than nine successive days. As previously mentioned, the Governor was to appoint the Warden, Treasurer and Clerk. While each Township was to elect one Councillor, and the Townships which had more than three hundred freeholders and householders on the assessment list, were to elect two.

The District of Brock was made up of the following municipalities:

        Blandford       Oakland
Blenheim East Oxford
Burford North Oxford
Dereham West Oxford
Nissouri Zorra

Wardens for the district of Brock were:
1842 The Hon. Peter Boyle de Blaquire
1843 Solomon Lossing (appointed in April)
1844 Solomon Lossing (February session)
1844 Benjamin Van Norman (May, August and November Sessions)
1845 George W. Whitehead (August and November Sessions)
1846 George W. Whitehead
1847 Jared Vining
1848 Jared Vining
1849 William Carroll

Other appointees were:
1842 – 1849 Clerk – William Lapenotiere
1842 – 1849 Treasurer – H.C. Barwick
1842 – 1845 Surveyor – James Cull
1846 – 1849 Surveyor – O. Bartley
1844 – 1845 Supt. of Schools – Rev. N. Bosworth
1846 Supt. of Schools – George Hendry
1847 – 1849 Supt. of Schools – Rev. Wm. H. Landon
1839- District Court Clerk – John George Vansittart
1839- Surrogate Court Registrar – John George Vansittart
1839- District Sheriff – James Carroll
1839- District Judge – John Arnold

In 1846, in response to continued agitation for a more democratic structure for the District Council, important changes were made to the Act of 1841. Positions previously appointed by the Governor were now to be appointed by the District Councils. Councils were also permitted to pay members for services. In addition, the School Act was amended; it provided for Superintendents of Education to be appointed by District Councils and for the Superintendents to be invested with considerable administrative powers.

In 1849, the Municipal Corporations Act, better known as the Baldwin Act (named after the politician Robert Baldwin), established counties as units of local government, thus providing for the composition of county councils and their responsibilities. The Baldwin Act became effective 1 January 1850 and remained in effect until its repeal by the Municipal Act, 2001, effective 1 January 2003. With the Baldwin Act in place, the District of Brock became the Incorporated County of Oxford. The Municipality of Nissouri was split with West Nissouri becoming part of Middlesex County, and in the east, Burford and Oakland Townships were removed to Brant County.

Custodial history

Scope and content

This series contains a variety of petitions expressing concerns of councillors and inhabitants of the Brock District. This series is divided into the following subseries:

A) Council
B) Finance
C) Public Improvements
D) Common Schools
E) Miscellaneous

The first subseries includes petitions from Council to the Legislature and provide an excellent source of information on a variety of topics including taxation and the separation of certain portions of land from the District of Brock. Of particular interest is an agricultural petition which expressed that the concerns of the rural farmer seem secondary to the Government’s concerns for the merchants of Ontario.

The second subseries includes petitions from individuals relating to financial disputes, such as assessment, taxation, and payment for work completed.

The third subseries contains petitions referred to the Committee on Public Improvements and typically contains the name of an individual or freeholder, or a list of names of individuals requesting that road or bridge be built, or compensation made for land taken.

The fourth subseries contains petitions to the Committee of Common Schools and indicate the progression from the need expressed for the establishment of a new school section in 1845, through to the levying of taxes for teachers' salaries and the building of schools in 1847-1849.

The last subseries of petitions includes a number of concerns such as a request for an Inn license, the unfairness of the 1847 election, the moral and religious character of the works in the prison library, and the improper taxation for a dog which did not exist.

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The fonds is open to public research. However, please contact the archivist responsible for the records regarding access, as some materials may be too fragile to handle. The Archives will make every effort to supply reference copies where feasible.

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