Prince Edward Island Land and Property

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Prince Edward Island Wiki Topics
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Beginning Research
Record Types
Prince Edward Island Background
Cultural Groups
Local Research Resources

Online Records[edit | edit source]

FamilySearch[edit | edit source]

Master Name Index[edit | edit source]

PARO Database (Public Records and Archives) search Engine[edit | edit source]

Petitions (formerly the PEI Petition Index, 1780-1915; includes digitized originals)

Introduction[edit | edit source]

All land registry records from 1900 to the present are located in the

Registry Office
Jones Building, 11 Kent Street
P.O. Box 2000
Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island C1A 7N8

Records from 1769 to 1900, such as land registries, books, rent books, and leases, are located in the Public Archives and Records Office (see Prince Edward Island Archives and Libraries for the address.) The archives also houses a number of atlases and maps which show property owners and the location of their property.

Map[edit | edit source]

Map of Prince Edward Island

Map PEI.jpg

History[edit | edit source]

Within the Atlantic region, Prince Edward Island comprised the largest area of agricultural land available. The island was discovered by Jacques Cartier in 1534, claimed by Samuel de Champlain for France in 1603, and called Île Saint-Jean. In 1719 three hundred settlers from France established the first actual colony on the island, Port la Joie, at the entrance to Charlottetown. The British captured this colony in 1745 but it was regained in 1748.

The 1767 Land Lottery[edit | edit source]

In 1763 France ceded the area to Great Britain, under the jurisdiction of Nova Scotia. Later, the Island (known as the Island of St. John) was divided into three counties, each with a townsite and 67 lots (townships).

In 1767 various political friends of the British government and naval and military officers, active and retired, were selected to participate in a lottery that disposed of the entire island in lots of roughly 20,000 acres. The new proprietors only wanted the land for speculation and had not intended to ever live there themselves. The demands for rents and lack of freehold tenure existed as late as Confederation, affecting the land records produced.[1]

Ownership of the land remained in the hands of landlords in England, angering Island settlers who were unable to gain title to land on which they worked and lived. Significant rent charges (to absentee landlords) created further anger. The land had been given to the absentee landlords with a number of conditions attached regarding upkeep and settlement terms; many of these conditions were not satisfied. Islanders spent decades trying to convince the Crown to confiscate the lots, however the descendants of the original owners were generally well connected to the British government and refused to give up the land.[2]

Separation from Nova Scotia[edit | edit source]

The Island separated from Nova Scotia in 1769 and the name changed to Prince Edward Island in 1799. This is important to remember when trying to locate the records created prior to this date. You may need to access records created earlier under the Nova Scotia jurisdiction.

In 1803 the largest single colonization in Island history occurred when 800 settlers from the Scottish highlands arrived. They were sponsored by Thomas Douglas, Lord Selkirk, who later founded the Red River Settlement in Manitoba.

Land Purchase Act of 1867[edit | edit source]

The Land Purchase Act dated 1867 ended the tenure system of 1767 and in 1873 the Province of Prince Edward Island was formed and became part of the Dominion of Canada.

This preamble is to give you a sketch of the development of Prince Edward Island and the creation of land records as time progressed. It is necessary to understand what took place in order for you to be able to determine what records may have been created.

Prince Edward Island Public Archives and Records Office[edit | edit source]

The Prince Edward Island Public Archives and Records Office (PARO) has the largest collection of genealogical material pertaining to Prince Edward Island in the province. As the depository for public records, PARO contains several government series such as probate, chancery and Supreme Court records, land transactions (pre-1900), early maps and vital statistic records.

  • There is another resource available known as The Master Name Index, an alphabetical index compiled from newspapers, census and cemetery transcripts, marriage registers,petitions and other sources.
  • When sending an inquiry to the Public Archives and Records Office it is not necessary to submit any payment, or return envelope. If you require copies of documents you will be invoiced for the charges.

It is necessary to follow these guidelines:

  1. Write a clear and concise letter.
  2. Identify the individual you are attempting to trace: full name, approximate birth and death dates, place of residence, religion, names of parents, siblings, spouse’s children and any other info that may help in identifying your particular ancestor.
  3. Ask exactly what you want to know. Be specific.
  4. Mention sources already consulted.
  5. Mention any previous correspondence you have had with PARO.
  6. Remember, research inquiries are handled in the order received. No priority is given to fax or email inquiries.

Prince Edward Island Public Archives and Records
Hon. George Coles Building, 4th Floor
175 Richmond Street
Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island
Telephone: 902-368-4290
Mailing Address:
P.O. Box 1000
Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island C1A 7M4

Land records and maps prior to 1900 can be found at the Public Archives and Records Office. These maps will be useful in tracing who was on a specific piece of property at a given time. You will find this very helpful because until October 1939, land could be transferred by an individual’s will alone, without registration of the transaction. The following describes the types of documents and records created with a brief description of each. These are housed at the Public Archives and Records Office, in Charlottetown:

Conveyances[edit | edit source]

The first series of land conveyances covers all of Prince Edward Island from 1769 to 1873. It is alphabetically indexed and also contains leases, court judgments and powers of attorney. After 1873, the records are arranged by county.

Leases[edit | edit source]

Leases were not recorded in registry books. Therefore, the only record of the transaction is the lease itself. The transfers of legal ownership to a lease were often recorded on the actual lease document. This provides a valuable source of genealogical information. There are gaps in the records within the collection of leases which survived to be exchanged for deeds after the Land Purchase Act.

Crown Deeds and Township Ledgers[edit | edit source]

After the first Land Purchase Act in 1853, tenants were allowed to purchase their land from the government which had purchased it from the first proprietors. After a series of payments recorded in township Ledgers set up for this purpose, a deed was issued. These deeds may contain information about previous transactions and may record the number of the original lease.

Maps and Plans[edit | edit source]

In addition to the 1863 Lake Map, the 1880 Meacham’s Atlas, and the 1927 Cummins Atlas which contain maps bearing residents’ names for all lots, there is also a large collection of manuscript maps for the Island as a whole and for individual lots. Many are cadastral, and though the quantity and quality of maps existing for the various lots is quite uneven, they may be very useful in establishing a family’s location at a particular time. Maps may also record the liber (page) and folio (volume) reference for specific properties enabling you to refer to the documents of transfer.

Rent Books[edit | edit source]

These books recorded the payment of rents by tenants. They were kept by the proprietors or their agents and may be the only source you find to establish your ancestor’s place of residence. These records vary in quantity and quality.

Petitions[edit | edit source]

These are petitions to Executive Council, from 1780 to 1837 and contain some land petitions. These have been indexed in the Master Name Index.

Warrants of Survey[edit | edit source]

These exist for some Loyalist allotments in about 20 Lots from 1784 to 1803.

Court Records-Probate[edit | edit source]

Wills and administrations from 1807 to 1920 are useful for documenting land transfers as these transactions were not entered into the registry books. The only record of a transfer of ownership would be the will itself. Records later than 1920 are held at:

Supreme Court Registries - Estates Division
Sir Louis Henry Davies Law Courts
42 Water Street
P.O. Box 2000
Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island C1A 7N8
Telephone: 902-368-6000

Land Registry Office[edit | edit source]

For post-1900 land records for Kings and Queens Counties contact:

Registry Office
Jones Building, 11 Kent Street
P.O. Box 2000
Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island C1A 7N8

For Post-1899 land records of Prince County contact:

Prince County Registry of Deeds
Summerside Waterfront Office Building and
120 Harbour Drive
Summerside, Prince Edward Island C1N 5L2
Telephone: 902-888-8080

Pre-1900 land records for all of Prince Edward Island are available at the Public Archives and Records Office.

Prince Edward Island Genealogical Society[edit | edit source]

The Prince Edward Island Genealogical Society printed a listing of the records in the Public Archives and Records Office Record Group 15 (Prince Edward Island Land Commissioner fonds) over a number of their issues. This record group includes a vast amount of material pertaining to Prince Edward Island land holdings. Some of this material has been microfilmed, however, the PARO does not participate in inter-library loans. Therefore researchers must visit the PARO to conduct their own search of the records or hire the services of a private researcher to work on their behalf. The Prince Edward Island Genealogical Society provides a forum for exchanging information through its quarterly newsletter, meetings, workshops and indexing projects. The Society is administered by a volunteer executive and has no staff or office. Membership in the society is currently $20 in Canada, $20 in the USA and $20 overseas. (USA and overseas in U.S. Funds)

The Prince Edward Island Genealogical Society
The Island Register
P.O. Box 2744
Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island C1A 8C4

Additional Information[edit | edit source]

For additional information see:

  • A very helpful article about the island's land records  is "A Beginner's Guide to Island Land Records" by Ann Coles in "The Island Magazine" (Number 25, Spring/Summer 1989).  The Family History Library has this publication from Fall/Winter 1976 to Fall/Winter 2009.

References[edit | edit source]

  1. Harris, R. Cole and John Warkentin, Canada Before Confederation: A Study in Historical Geography, (London: Oxford University Press, 1974).
  2. "Prince Edward Island, British Colony", in Wikipedia,, accessed 2 Novenber 2020.
  3. Murphy, Sharon L., Brenda Dougall Merriman, and Frances Coe. "Prince Edward Island Land Records (National Institute)," National Institute for Genealogical Studies (2012),