21 JULY 2008



   This is not going to be a genealogical presentation.  The genealogy of the various branches of the Doane family in Ontario has been well covered elsewhere.  I would refer you to Max Doan’s book Doan Families of South-Western Ontario: Arrivals and Departures, and to Gilbert Doane’s book The Ebenezer Doan Family.  Peter Doan has continued Max’s work on the Southwestern Ontario Doans, particularly the Joseph and Titus lines,  and Josephine Boos has worked for many years on the descendents of Ebenezer Doan.

   It struck me when I first began to prepare for this presentation that the story of the Doans in Ontario parallels the development of this province. This talk is therefore going to be a social history, concentrating especially on the first half century after the Doan families settled in Ontario.

I am going to start by talking briefly about the families that immigrated to Ontario: Who were they?   Where did they come from?  Why did they come to Canada?  Where did they settle?

   The two major themes I want to talk about are the role of religion, particularly the Quakers, and secondly, the Rebellion of 1837, which was a pivotal event in the history of the province, and had a significant impact on the Doan family.

   Finally, I am going to touch briefly on the 171 years since the Rebellion.


   The following information is taken from Max Doan’s book.   5 families came to Ontario, all grandsons or great-grandchildren of Daniel3 of Bucks County, Pennsylvania.

1. Ebenezer5, was the son of Joseph4, of Wrightstown, Bucks County, Pennsylvania.  He came to Canada about 1808, after his wife died.  He was accompanied by his sons Joseph, Mahlon and Ebenezer, and daughter Mary.  His sons William and John had already settled in Ontario, as had his daughter Martha Armitage. His oldest son Jonathan stayed in the United States.   The family settled 400 acres on Yonge Street north of Toronto, in the Quaker settlement established by Timothy Rogers near Newmarket. Timothy Rogers, a Quaker from Vermont, in 1800 had been allotted 11,030 acres for settling. This family and their descendants will be referred to as the Yonge Street Doanes

2, Elijah5, son of Israel4, was probably born near Plumstead, Pennsylvania.  Three of his sons, Jonathan, Elijah and Israel, and his daughter Sarah, came to the Niagara area of Ontario about 1787.  Jonathan lived in the Sugar Loaf area, Wainfleet Township, Welland County, for 20 years, but then moved to Yarmouth Township in Elgin County.  Jonathan and his descendants will be referred to as the Sparta Doanes.  Israel settled in Louth Township, Lincoln County.

3. Israel5, son of Israel4, was imprisoned in the USA after being accused of aiding his son Abraham and his nephews after a treasury robbery, and probably died in prison.  His daughter Mary, who married her cousin Joseph6 Doan, was the only member of this family to come to Canada.

4. Joseph5, son of Israel4, was the father of the “Doan Outlaws”.  One of his sons was shot when captured, and another son was hanged.  Aaron was pardoned on the condition that he leave the United States, and he came to Canada.  Joseph escaped prison and eventually came to Canada as well.  Three daughters, Mary, Betsy, and Hester, also came to Canada. Joseph5, Joseph6, and Aaron all settled in Humberstone Township, Welland County, as did Betsy and her husband Thomas Millard.  Hester and her husband Edward Richardson stayed in the Niagara Area.  Mary married Samuel Doan, son of Titus, and they settled in Crowland Township, Welland County.

5. Titus5, son of Elijah4, farmed in New Jersey near the Delaware River, but sold the farm in 1787, and moved to Ontario with his 7 sons and one daughter.  They settled in Crowland Township, Welland County, where the sons were known as the “Seven Brothers of Crowland”.  Three of Titus’s grandsons eventually In summary, the Doan families emigrated to Ontario over about a 20 year time span, establishing 2 main settlements, one in the Niagara Peninsula, and one in the Newmarket area, with Jonathan Doan subsequently establishing a settlement at Sparta in Elgin County.

   Why did the families come to Ontario?  With the exception of the families of Israel5 and Joseph5 , they had tried to remain neutral during the Revolutionary War, which did not make them especially popular with their neighbours.  As well, Pennsylvania was heavily settled, making it more difficult to find new farms as sons came of age.  Land was being opened up in Ohio, but the United States government had passed new legislation requiring all able-bodied men to serve in the militia, or pay a fine, while Governor John Graves Simcoe was offering cheap land and military exemption in Ontario.  In 1792 Simcoe issued a Proclamation addressed to residents of the United States “such as are desirous to settle on the Lands of the Crown in the Province of Upper Canada.” He went on to state that Quakers in particular would be welcome and would be exempt from bearing arms.

(Just as an aside, I refer throughout this presentation to Ontario, but the province of Ontario did not exist until 1 July 1867, and prior to that was known as Upper Canada from 1791-1845, and later Canada West from 1845-1867.   Also, when talking about the settlements in the Niagara Peninsula, have referred to townships and counties as they now exist, but until 1851 Welland County was part of Lincoln County.) 




   Some, but not all, of the Niagara Peninsula Doane’s belonged to Pelham Meeting, located in Pelham Township, in what is now Welland County.  Quakers began meeting in the Short Hills/Pelham area in the centre of the Niagara Peninsula in the early 1790’s. The meetinghouse was built in the mid 1790’s, but was later replaced by newer structures in 1807 and 1875. In 1799 the first Monthly Meeting of Friend’s in Canada was established at Pelham.

   Minutes of the Pelham Monthly meeting are now available online, and they show that at least some of the Peninsula Doanes were active in the Society of Friends.  For instance, minutes of the monthly meeting dated 5 November 1806 note Jonathan Doan was received into membership. On 3 December 1808 Israel Doan requested membership.  On 4 June 1809 Willson Doan requested that his 4 minor children come under the care of Friends.


   In 1813 Jonathan Doan and his 7-year-old grandson sailed west along the north shore of Lake Erie to the mouth of Kettle Creek, and then walked inland until they found a good place for settlement.  Jonathan purchased 200 acres from Colonel James Baby in June 1813, and built a log cabin near the site of what is now the Friend’s Cemetery. Remember that this took place during the War of 1812.  In 1816 he purchased 3000 acres from Colonel Baby for £1125.  In 1815 he returned to Pennsylvania to report on the area to the Society of Friends, and on his return was accompanied by several families.  Initially, meetings were held alternatively at the homes of John Kipp and Elias Moore, but in 1820 a log meeting house was built on the site of the Friend’s Cemetery purchased from Jonathan for 5 shillings.  A larger frame structure was built nearby in 1827, and in 1865 the present meetinghouse was built in the woods north of Sparta at  a  cost  of  $1507.57.

Jonathan walked from Sparta to Farmington, New York, a distance of 250 miles, several times to attend the Yearly Meeting of Friends.  As he walked he would knock large stones out of the road so they would not hurt the horses’ feet.  At age 82 he walked to Pelham to Meetings, at the rate of 4 miles an hour.


   In December 1805 Amos Armitage and Nathaniel Pearson were appointed to contract for cemetery land.  In January 1806 they reported the purchase of land from Asa Rogers for $18 per acre, the cost of clearing the land. Title was received in June 1807.

The first meetinghouse on Yonge Street was built before 1806.  By 1808 it was seen that a larger meetinghouse would be required to accommodate the rapidly growing community of Friends, and in 1810 just under 2 acres immediately north of the cemetery was acquired from William Doane6.  The meeting agreed to build a one-story frame structure, which they estimated would cost about $1750.  Work began in 1810 and was completed in 1812.  John Doane6, son of Ebenezer Sr., was the builder of the Meeting House.  The architecture is typical of the plain structures erected by Quakers in North America.  The building was extensively renovated in 1975, although the outward appearance is unchanged.

Both John and his brother Ebenezer Jr. were master builders, probably the equivalent of our modern contractors.  They had been trained by their older brother Jonathan, who did not emigrate, and who built numerous public buildings in the United States, including the original New Jersey State Capital Building, Stanhope Hall at Princeton, and Trinity Episcopal Church, in Geneva, New York.

   The Yonge Street Friends reached their peak numbers in the 1820’s.  Three major separations occurred.  In 1812 David Willson separated to found the Children of Peace.  In 1828 the Hicksite-Orthodox controversy resulted in the small Hicksite faction moving one mile south of the Meeting House site, and in 1848 there was a schism among the Orthodox Quakers.  The Wilburites, or conservative Friends, maintained control of the Meeting House but not the cemetery, while the evangelistic Gurneyites established a new Meetinghouse on Botsford Street in Newmarket.  In spite of these problems, the Yonge Street Meeting House remains in operation, the longest of any Meeting House in Canada.  In 1908 the descendants of Ebenezer5 erected a memorial on the grounds of the Meeting House to mark the 100th anniversary of his arrival in Ontario.


   David Willson came to Canada from New York State in 1802, and joined the Yonge Street Quakers, but left the Society of Friends in 1812, to form the Children of Peace. John Doane, Mahlon Doane, and Ebenezer Doane Jr., joined the Children of Peace, as did their sisters Martha and Mary.

   David Willson was one of hundreds of visionaries who expected, and was preparing for, the Second Coming of Christ, which was to occur about 1844.  Willson believed in the Inner Light, that the Holy Ghost, or Divine Spirit, was within everyone, and that therefore there was no need for formal church doctrines, or clergymen, to instruct believers in what to think. He felt that Christianity had betrayed Christ with its many denominations and creeds.  He envisioned a Temple of Peace, signifying an era of peace, equality and justice for all.  There were no ministers as such, but David Willson delivered long sermons, and wrote new hymns.  The sermons and the use of music in worship were differences from the Quakers, whose worship was characterized by long periods of silence.  In 1819 The Children of Peace had a choir, by 1820 a band, and the first barrel organ built in Upper Canada.  Jesse Doane, son of John, was the bandleader for 30 years.  A monthly offering established the Charity fund, which was used to give loans to members, purchase needed equipment, and for the support of the needy.



   In 1819 the first meetinghouse was built, a square white-framed building with many windows.

   The building of the Sharon Temple took place between 1825 and 1831.  Ebenezer Doane Jr. built the building from the concepts of David Willson, and John Doane built the elaborate ark that sat in the centre of the Temple.  Almost everything about the Temple architecture is meant to be symbolic.  The building is meant to be an ecumenical Church, uniting the Christian and Jewish faiths.  It is built on the square, denoting that members are to have square dealings with everyone.  The three stories represent the Holy Trinity.  There are 12 external lanterns and 12 internal pillars representing the 12 apostles.  The gold ball at the top is the world at peace.  An equal number of windows on each side allows the light of the gospel to fall equally on all assembled, and doors on each side let people enter from all directions on an equal footing.  The ark inside at the heart of the building was a symbol of God’s presence, and contained a Bible open to the 10 commandments, just as the original Jewish Ark of the Covenant contained the 10 commandments. John Doane built the ark over 365 days. There are 4 pillars around the Ark, named Hope, Faith, Love and Charity, the cardinal virtues on which David Willson built his church. The meeting house was used every Sunday, but the Temple was used only 15 times a year, on the last Saturday of the month when the Children of Peace met for an alms service, on the first Saturday in June when they celebrated Passover, the first Friday night in September for the Illumination, and the first Saturday in September for the Feast of the First Fruits, a Thanksgiving service.

   In 1990, during restoration of the Ark, a collection of David Willson’s manuscripts and hymns was discovered in a secret compartment. After David Willson’s death in 1866 the sect dwindled, and the last service was held in 1889.

   The York Pioneer and Historical Society purchased the Temple in 1917, after it had been abandoned for some years, and operated it as a museum until 1991.  The Site is now owned and operated by the Sharon Temple Museum Society.  In 2006 Sharon Temple was voted one of the top 50 examples of Canadian architecture.

   The following quotation appeared in the Toronto Star 29 May 2008:”On a sunny spring day, its neoclassical grace and symmetry – unchanged since 1832 – are the very essence of a still, calm voice in a fast-moving world”


   When the province of Upper Canada was created after the American Revolution it was meant to reflect the values of the mother country, Britain.  The Province was ruled by a colonially appointed Lt.-Governor, usually a military officer.  He was independent of the Legislature, and his income was derived from taxes he raised himself.  He was aided by an appointed Executive council, filled with members of the colonial elite, and known as the Family Compact.   They were responsible only to the Lt.-Governor, and held veto power over all legislation passed by the House of Assembly.   Preference was given to the Church of England, in return for their support of the Family Compact, and one-seventh of all the land in the Province was set aside as Clergy Reserves. Within the Townships administration was in the hands of the magistrates, usually half-pay British officers with considerable land, little or no legal training, and giving sole allegiance to the Lt.-Governor. Although there was an elected House of Assembly, with all adult property-holding men eligible to vote, the Legislature had virtually no power. It was a corrupt and unrepresentative system, and eventually rebellion was inevitable. The leader of the rebellion of 1837 was William Lyon Mackenzie, a Toronto newspaper publisher, and the elected representative of the Fourth Riding of York, in which Sharon Temple lay.  He was frequently critical of the government in his newspaper The Colonial Advocate.  He was expelled from his seat in the House of Assembly 5 times, but each time was re-elected by overwhelming margins.  The Children of Peace, given their belief in self-determination, were Mackenzie supporters, but only 26 of the 70 adult male members joined the rebellion given their belief in self-determination, were Mackenzie supporters, but only 26 of the 70 adult male members joined the rebellion.

   In 1836 Sir Francis Bond Head, the first non-military Lt.-Governor, arrived in the Province.  His only prior administrative experience was as Poor Law Commissioner in Kent. Intended as a sop to the reformers because of his Liberal tendencies, he was an inept administrator, and his arrival coincided with an economic recession.

   In October 1837 Mackenzie called a meeting of 10 radical reformers.   Bond Head refused to believe rebellion was possible in Ontario, and he sent all government troops to Quebec to help put down the rebellion there.  Mackenzie proposed a march on Toronto City Hall to seize the muskets stored there, and guarded by only 2 constables.  He envisioned a bloodless coup.

   The rebellion was plagued from the start by a lack of organization.  In the end, 400 poorly armed farmers marched down Yonge Street on 7 December 1837, to be met by 1000 well-armed loyalists who got to the muskets in City Hall first.

   The reprisals were vicious.  Magistrates used the opportunity to settle old scores, and to exact revenge on those post-loyalist “Americans” whose loyalty they had always suspected.  Sharon Temple was nearly burned by a mob, which sought to tar and feather the entire sect.  Two members of the Children of Peace, James Henderson and James Kavanaugh, died in the battle on Yonge Street, and another died on the prison ship transporting him to Australia.  Peter Matthews, and Samuel Lount, one of Mackenzie’s staunch supporters, were hanged.  Several members  of  the  Doan  family  and  3  of  David Willson’s sons were among the 500 imprisoned in Toronto. Men who had not participated in the march were arrested “on suspicion”.  The majority were ultimately pardoned, but some returned to homes and contents smashed by the militia.  Mackenzie escaped to the US.

   Meanwhile, the western group of insurgents, 500 strong, met at the village of Scotland in Brant County under the leadership of Dr. Charles Duncombe.  Duncombe had served as an elected member of the Assembly for many years, and was a strong advocate of a public education system.  When word reached them of Mackenzie’s defeat, Duncombe recommended that the rebels disperse.  Many fled to the United States, including 2 sons of Jonathan Doane, Joel and Joshua.  Joshua had been a leader under Dr. Duncombe.  Joel seems to have remained in the US until a general pardon was issued in the 1840’s, but Joshua participated in a failed raid near Detroit in 1838, and was captured.  He was tried for treason in London, Ontario, and sentenced to hang.  Dr. Duncombe escaped to the US, and did not return after his pardon in 1843.

   Joshua Doan and 5 others were hanged.  Israel Doan, Joshua’s brother, made 3 trips to London with a horse and sleigh, before he was allowed to bring Joshua’s body home.  Joshua and Amos Perley, another Sparta native hanged at the same time as Joshua, are buried in the Friend’s Cemetery in Sparta.

   It was said that Jonathan Doan, who vividly remembered the deaths of his cousins during the Revolutionary War, and the devastating impact their deaths had on their parents and other family members, begged his sons not to participate in the Rebellion.

   In the short term, the Rebellion was deemed a failure, but change was coming.  The principles expounded by the rebels were not going to go away, and the pressure for responsible government continued. A Liberal government replaced the Tory party in Britain, in power since Waterloo, and the Whigs were more sympathetic to the concept of responsible government. The power of the Family Compact was in the decline.  In 1840, legislation authorizing the sale of the clergy lands was enacted, although the profits from the sale went to the Church of England.   In 1856 further reform saw the beginning of an elected Legislative Council. Today we take for granted the rights the reformers fought for.

   In 1921 the grandson of William Lyon Mackenzie was elected the 10th Prime Minister of Canada, a position he was to hold for a total of 22 years, the longest of any Prime Minister within the British Empire.


   One of the reasons the Doanes were so successful at settlement was that they were early multi-taskers.  Although farming was their main occupation, they also had other skills.  Jonathan Doan, for instance, operated a gristmill at Sparta, and his sons Joel and Joshua were tanners and shoemakers.  Ebenezer’s sons John and Ebenezer Jr. were master builders, and Mahlon was a carriage maker.

   Farming continued to be an important occupation for the Doan’s, up to the present day.  If you consult township histories, you will find Doan farms on the lists of Century farms. (A century farm is one that had been continuously operated by one family for the first 100 years of confederation, 1867-1967).  The township histories will also show that the Doan’s were actively involved in municipal politics, serving their communities as councillors, reeves, etc.  Today, you will also find Doan descendants in every profession, in industry, trades, media, sports and the arts.

   I would like to talk briefly about the Doan house in Newmarket, because  the National Association helped the Ontario Chapter with a generous donation in its fight to preserve this house.  The house was built by Seneca Doane, grandson of Ebenezer Sr., and son of William, on the land originally settled by Ebenezer Sr.   Charles Frederick Doan, born 1851, was the great-grandson of Ebenezer Doane5.   His son, John Purdy Doane, was the father of Jim Doane, and daughter Clara Adella was the mother of Barbara Maunder, and Bud and Gary Gilbert.  Jim Doane remembers his parents taking the family to Newmarket annually for the yearly meeting at the Meeting House next door. After Charles Frederick, Jim’s uncle David Charles, and his aunt Gladys, lived in the house until they retired.  The house was rented out, but was eventually sold.  The developer did not want the house, and for many years members of the Ontario Chapter tried to find a new home for it.  On 22 March 2002, the house was moved into downtown Newmarket, where it now serves as Hospice Newmarket.

   In April 1928 the Doane House was featured in the Women’s and Home Section of the Farmers Advocate.  Mrs. Doane summed up her philosophy of life as:” To live as you go: to enjoy everything you can while it is with you…My idea of enjoying things is to build up a home where you can have a better time than you could have anywhere else – a home that your children can look back to with happy recollections and that they will always want to come back to.”  She was a graduate of Pickering College, and started the Women’s Institute in Newmarket.  When hydro came to the district the Doane’s were among the first subscribers.  At the same time a bathroom was created out of a closet and part of the bedroom.  They had an electric stove, electric washer, vacuum cleaner and toaster.  Remember that this was 1928!  She created a sunroom by removing one partition wall, and installing a bay window onto the porch.  The previous winter she had made a wool-filled comforter, washing and carding the wool herself.

   I also want to mention the Doane furniture.  Those of you who attended the 1990 reunion in Toronto will remember Dr. John McIntyre’s presentation on John Doane’s carpentry.  John Doane6 was an accomplished cabinetmaker.  He made furniture for his family and  the  community,  including  4 similar desks for his 4 sons.  All the desks had secret compartments. One of these desks sold at auction for $45,000 in 2000.  The catalogue description reads as follows: “Upper Canada Birdseye maple bureau desk with white pine the secondary wood.  Being a mate to one illustrated in colour as plate 1157 in Pain’s “Heritage of Upper Canadian Furniture” attributed to John Doan of Sharon who emigrated from Bucks County, Pennsylvania, with this example having spirally reeled quarter columns, bracket feet and appointed interior typical of known examples of the cabinetmaker’s work.”

   The Doanes were not great in the way the world views greatness.  They were simply decent, hardworking men and women, who cleared their farms, raised their children, built their schools and churches.  Together with thousands of others who came to this country in search of a better life for their descendants, they helped to build a province and a country.  They came, and they survived, and today their descendants welcome you to the 50th biennial reunion of the Doane Family of America, and we hope you enjoy your stay with us.

   I would like to end with a sincere thank you to Josephine Boos and Alma Doane, who have provided me with a wealth of information and resources to prepare this talk.


Presented by Sharon Lipsit, Ontario Chapter