Crown Land Patent Grants spell out owners’ right to minerals and land uses

By John Phair

Landowners in Ontario may have more property rights than they are aware of, and they are usually spelled out in the property’s original Crown Land Patent Grants, says a researcher with the Ontario Landowners Association (OLA).

Speaking to members of the Lambton-Middlesex Landowners Association in Alvinston on April 22, Liz Marshall said Crown Land Patent Grants are the original contract with the Crown when land grants were issued to the first settlers.

“They are binding contracts that overrule legislation,” she said, adding that most people — including many lawyers — are mostly unaware these documents exist.

“There are court cases upon court cases that indicate they stand up in court,” Marshall said.

She said Crown Land Patent Grants are legitimate contracts that outline what the title holder has a right to, but she noted that some of them contain reservations to the Crown but clearly outline what the property owner has a right to — which may include rights to water courses or mineral rights to gold, silver, iron, copper, tin, lead or white pine, etc.

Marshall noted that while these rights were granted to the original owner, unless subsequent title holders to the land had negotiated these rights away, they still convey to the present owner.

“It’s the registration of the date of issuance that prevails in court,” she said.

Marshall pointed out that a court case in 2008 involved a lawyer who was sued for $500,000 for negligence because a land deal did not go through — because he couldn’t determine whether mineral rights came with the property.

“He didn’t know how to get the Crown Land Patent Grants. It took him three times before he finally got them… the mineral rights were there but by then it was too late,” Marshall said, adding that many lawyers have told her that in law school they were given less than an hour of instruction in Crown Land Patent Grants.

She added that in the judge’s statement it was determined that the lawyer was required to use the Mining Act of 1876 in conjunction with the Crown Patent Grants to determine if the landowner had the right to the mineral rights.

“So we know they hold up in court. Some people will have mineral rights and some will not, it depends on the specifications contained in the reservations in the Crown grants, so we know they hold up in courts.

“But they (the government) don’t want people to know these documents exist.”

Marshall added that land owners in Ontario have property rights under common law, but not under civil law.

“Civil law is what governments are using with legislation today and that is how they are getting away with restricting your property rights.”

She said government legislation is a whim.

“It’s something that some politician decides is a good idea, writes it down and decides to make it a law.

“But it only takes someone being convicted of breaking that whim to set common law precedence, and we are trying to undo that.”

Marshall said to stop a lot of the repressive legislated that’s eroding property owners’ rights, all it will take is for the federal and provincial governments to pass legislation ensuring they will uphold the contractual obligations of the Crown Land Patent Grants.

“Then your land, water and air will be yours,” she said, adding that if you have a Crown Land Patent Grant it can restrict governments or its agencies such as the Ministry of Natural Resources or municipal by-law enforcement officers from entering your land, or stopping them from arbitrarily placing your land under the jurisdiction of a conservation area.

“They cannot change your land use conditions unless it is stipulated in your Crown Land Patent Grant, unless someone who owned the land prior has made that decision.”

However, Marshall said obtaining these rights is not something landowners can go hog wild about and do whatever they please.

“There are rules going back to Natural Law and the Magna Carta that stipulate one cannot dirty a neighbour’s air, water or soil,” she said.

Marshall urged all landowners to apply for the Crown Land Patent Grants because they may need them as more and more “restrictive, regulatory and crippling” pieces of legislation are passed.

To that end, she said she’s heading up a committee of the OLA that’s creating a data base of these documents and is encouraging land owners to apply for them and send a copy to the OLA for its data base.

Marshall noted that information garnered will not be sold or distributed to any other organization without the written consent of property owners.

“Please get your patent grants and help us stop what is happening in our province,” she said, adding that the OLA’s intention is to create a big stick to be used against government in its fight to protect the rights of property owners.

She said to apply for a Crown Land Patent Grant, the owners will need the original geographic township (in the case where amalgamation has occurred), the lot or part lot the property is situated on, and the concession number.

The cost is $50 for the first three pages plus shipping and $4 for subsequent page.

She noted that the grants involving the Canada Company are sometimes 20 pages but in most cases it’s only three or four.

Applications can be mailed off to Ministry of Natural Resources, Crown Land Registry, 300 Water St., P.O. Box 7,000, Peterborough, ON, K9J 8M5 or fax it to (705) 755-2181.

Marshall advised landowners to not send payment with the request, as they will be notified of the amount owing at the time it is processed.

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