by Chris Pickup

Who would have thought a clerk’s careless error would morph into the angst-filled Case of the Missing Patent around a century and a half later.

Whoever it was (and at that time almost certainly a man) put the wrong date on a land patents book “HM, Land Patents, May 1868 – Jan. 1863, MS 8604”. That little seven year error (it should have been 1861) stymied researchers from finding the original Cayuga Patent, even though most of them (council, staff and their lawyer excepted) knew it was there somewhere.

Title researcher Penny Plunkett, on a mission and running into a dead end in her own search, enlisted the help of a historian friend who unearthed the missing Patent a few days later.

“The dates in the description make no sense, as you noted,” he said. “But I went to microfilm reel MS 8604, and found Book HM and Folio 122, and the patent was there. I never gave a second thought to why some clerk at the archives had thought the book started in May 1868. It didn’t. That was obviously just a mistake in the archival description. There’s nothing wrong with the book itself.”

He added it’s no big deal that this patent was put in a book in the series “Land Patents” and not in a book in the series “Indian Land Sales”.

“It’s because the “authority” in this case was an Order in Council from the Governor in Council (i.e. the. Executive Council) rather than a certificate from the Indian Department. The Indian Department was in the loop. That just happens to be how the paperwork was handled on this file.”

Plunkett presented this information to Haldimand mayor Ken Hewitt and the county’s solicitor in a private meeting last Wednesday, along with an overview of how the patent information was handled historically.

Land registration was not treated lightly back in the 1800s, she noted. Book 1 Village of Cayuga opened up under the authority of County Court judge for the County Court of Haldimand. On page 54 the Market Block information was given and the Notice of Patent recorded as of November 18, 1861.

Map 13255 was also registered on Oct. 31, 1864 – a new book would be opened up and entries for this plan found there.

The title for the Market Block was next recorded in a new Book for the Village of Cayuga, book 9. The date of the first entry on this page was in 1961. At this time Book One had been discontinued as a source of recording documents and Book 9 was now being used. The pages were stamped with Notice that the lands were now automated. Any future registrations would be under the new electronic automated system

However, the conversion process had requirements/guidelines for searchers who were working to convert the Province of Ontario title records. Teranet acknowledge in their notes that the patent was filed. But there was no number for the patent so it could not be viewed, which was required by the rules. Therefore it was not used by Terranet to confirm the ownership and bring the property into LTCQ registration.

Plunkett noted Tuesday the problem with the Market Block is not a problem with the title – it is a problem with the process of conversion into the new system of electronic registration. There are steps Haldimand County can take to transfer this patent into the system.

“I am concerned that by not taking care of this detail, anyone can register a transfer and claim ownership and that you will be going to Superior Court to clear up your title if this does happen,” she warned.

Hewitt announced at the end of the council in committee meeting  Tuesday that the County would “soon” be taking the steps Penny Plunkett recommended with respect to their title to the Cayuga Market Square.

However, he cautioned that the decision to locate the library on Highway 3 had considered a number of other factors, and that he did not want to create any false impressions.