From Quaker to Upper Canadian

From Quaker to Upper Canadian: Faith and Community among Yonge Street Friends, 1801-1850

Copyright Date: 2006
Pages: 320
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  • Book Info
    From Quaker to Upper Canadian
    Book Description:

    From Quaker to Upper Canadian is the first scholarly work to examine the transformation of this important religious community from a self-insulated group to integration within Upper Canadian society. Through a careful reconstruction of local community dynamics, Healey argues that the integration of this sect into mainstream society was the result of religious schisms that splintered the community and compelled Friends to seek affinities with other religious groups as well as the effect of cooperation between Quakers and non-Quakers.

    eISBN: 978-0-7735-6017-8
    Subjects: Religion

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-x)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. xi-xii)
  3. Illustrations, Maps, and Figures
    (pp. xiii-xiv)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xv-xvi)
  5. [Illustrations]
    (pp. xvii-2)
  6. INTRODUCTION Family, Friends, and Neighbours: Quaker Community in the Context of Upper Canada
    (pp. 3-20)

    In the spring of 1801 Timothy Rogers, a Quaker millwright from Vermont, arrived in Upper Canada with twenty Quaker families to begin a settlement on Yonge Street roughly thirty miles north of Lake Ontario. Rogers envisioned the unification of Upper Canadian Quakers and the establishment of a stable, thriving faith community based on the fundamental Quaker principles of peace, equality, and simplicity. Immediately his settlers were followed by a similar number of Quaker families from Pennsylvania, led by Samuel Lundy. Together these members of the Society of Friends joined forces to create a faith community in the backwoods of Upper...

    • 1 The Religious Society of Friends: Origins, Testimonies, and Organization
      (pp. 23-30)

      The Society of Friends, founded in England by George Fox, began as a response to the formal rigidity of contemporary religion. There is no precise date to attach to the origin of the Society; no covenant or document signifies the birth of the sect. This in itself reflects the evolving nature of Quakerism, a factor that has dominated its history. In 1648, amidst the social chaos of the English Reformation and civil war, twenty-four year old Fox had an experience that changed his interpretation of the Christian faith and his approach to the world around him. After claiming to hear...

    • 2 God’s Other Peculiar People: The Yonge Street Quakers in Early Upper Canada
      (pp. 31-50)

      During the summer of 1800, Timothy Rogers trod through the dense forest along Yonge Street, scouting a location for a Quaker settlement. Lieutenant Governor Simcoe had had great hopes for the military road he had ordered blazed through the wilderness in 1793, envisioning it as a connector between the provincial capital at York and Lake Simcoe. In 1800, however, it was still a muddy and often impassable track. Despite the difficulties of travel, Rogers decided that the gently rolling hills north of the Oak Ridges would make fertile farmland and the river tributaries would provide opportune places for the building...

    • 3 Of Kith and Kin: Family and Friends and the Establishment of Community in the Yonge Street Meeting
      (pp. 51-73)

      Kinship was one of the most dominant factors in the formation and maintenance of Quaker communities. The Yonge Street meeting was no exception. Kinship played a role in determining which families originally migrated to Yonge Street. Moreover, once families had arrived, the community was maintained and strengthened by an increasingly intricate network of familial ties. At the same time, links in the local community were part of a larger kinship network attaching the Yonge Street community to the expansive transatlantic fellowship of the Society of Friends. Kin networks thus reinforced both the local geographic and larger faith communities, drawing families...

    • 4 Keeping the Faith: Quaker Women and the Sustaining of Community
      (pp. 74-92)

      Shaping and sustaining the Quaker faith community from one generation to the next was a primary interest of Quaker women everywhere. It was accomplished in various ways and harnessed the efforts of Quakers throughout the transatlantic world. No matter where they lived, Quaker women exhorted and encouraged each other to remain faithful to what they saw as their most important task: preparing their children and others placed in their care to become godly Friends. This undertaking can best be described as informal education. Under the direction of numerous Friends, Quaker children were taught the significance of their faith over all...

    • 5 Unity of Faith and Practice: Discipline, “Contentiousness,” and Women in the Yonge Street Community of Friends
      (pp. 93-112)

      At the December 1806 business meeting of the Yonge Street Monthly Meeting, the women’s meeting sent a request across to the men’s meeting soliciting their assistance in the difficult case of Kezia James. The women complained that James “has been guilty of unbecoming behaviour in a meeting for worship and through a turbulent and contentious spirit hath been endeavouring to defame the character of friends – not only amongst members but to those not of our society, whereby she hath wilfully asserted things which appear to be false.”¹

      Unfortunately, given the nature of meeting minutes, the specifics of Kezia James’s assertions...

    • 6 Fractured, not Broken: Women and the Separation of the Children of Peace
      (pp. 113-130)

      Tucked away in the quiet village of Sharon, Ontario, sits one of North America’s finest wooden structures, the Temple of the Children of Peace.¹ Although the breakaway sect of Quakers who erected this building have long since ceased exist, it remains as a testimony to a religious and community schism that left its fingerprint on the social fabric of Upper Canada. Built between 1825 and 1832, the Temple has been refurbished and now stands as the centrepiece of a national historic site.²

      The schism that created the Children of Peace marks the beginning of doctrinal disputes among Upper Canadian Quakers....

    • 7 The Fragmentation of Friends: The Second-Generation Yonge Street Quaker Community and the Movement away from Sectarianism
      (pp. 133-149)

      The separation of the Children of Peace created a number of fissures in the Yonge Street community. Not only did it physically remove a significant group from the meetings for business and worship, but the fractious disputes between weighty Friends heightened tensions in the community and pushed issues of doctrine to the surface where they were discussed openly in the meeting and in the homes of Friends. Even though Friends had no written doctrine or creed, many were satisfied that they were united in their understanding of the original tenets of Quakerism. Occasional challenges to the belief system or the...

    • 8 The Hicksite-Orthodox Schism: A House Divided
      (pp. 150-168)

      In July 1828, Joseph Pearson, acting clerk of the Yonge Street Monthly Meeting, recorded a crisis of discipline. An acrimonious schism had formally divided Friends in the Yonge Street community. The clerk’s comments indicate that the factions in the community had become estranged over a period of time: “For several years past the minds of many friends have been greatly exercised and pained in consequence of the promulgation of sentiments by persons under our name, contrary to the principles of our Religious Society and subversive of the faith of our members.” The “contrary” principles expressed by some Friends were directly...

    • 9 A Religiously Guarded Education: Schooling in the Yonge Street Community
      (pp. 169-183)

      The schooling of children in the Yonge Street Friends community was like that in other pioneer communities in Upper Canada,¹ very much a family affair.² In pioneer settlements, formal instruction in reading, writing, and arithmetic was generally provided by parents to their own offspring and by masters and mistresses to their apprentices and servants. As settlements grew, neighbouring children might gather in one home to practise their lessons. Eventually, a group of parents would band together and construct a schoolhouse, then hire a teacher. Parents remained in charge of decisions about their children’s education and determined where and when they...

  9. CONCLUSION: A Little Leaven
    (pp. 184-193)

    By the 1850s what it meant to be a Quaker in Upper Canada had changed significantly from the founding of the Yonge Street settlement in 1801. Daniel Rogers, a third-generation Upper Canadian Quaker, had been the subject of meeting discipline in 1851 for marrying “out of order.”¹ Yet, by mid-century, marrying “out” was not nearly the issue it had been two generations before. Rogers, for one, did not view marriage out as contradictory to membership in the Quaker meeting.² Significant changes to the marriage testimony permitted him to retain his membership in the Society fairly easily.³ He went on to...

  10. APPENDIX ONE The Queries
    (pp. 194-198)
  11. APPENDIX TWO The Quaker Marriage Certificate
    (pp. 199-200)
  12. Glossary of Quaker Terms
    (pp. 201-204)
  13. Notes
    (pp. 205-260)
  14. Bibliography
    (pp. 261-284)
  15. Index
    (pp. 285-292)