Canadian Methodist Historical Society
  ....from Men of Canada 1891

EVANS, Rev. Ephraim D.D.

Rev. Ephraim Evans Rev. Ephraim Evans D.D. London, Ontario, was born on the 30th of June, 1803, at Kingston-upon-Hull. His father was Capt. James Evans, who had charge of several ships in Her Majesty's Transport Service.

Our subject emigrated to Canada in 1820, settling in Lower Canada. In 1824 he removed to Upper Canada and followed the teaching profession. He was converted in 1826, and at once entered the ministry, and was ordained in 1830 by Bishop Hedding.

Mr. Evans labored on the following circuits: Augusta, Kingston, Cobourg, St. Catharines, Niagara, Hamilton, and was one year soliciting subscriptions for Victoria University, Cobourg. He was then appointed editor of the Christian Guardian, which position he held three years.. After that he was chairman of the Western District one year, and, at the dissolution of the Union, was appointed Superintendent of English Wesleyan Missions at London, and after five years, on the restoration of the Union, he was appointed to Toronto.

In 1848 he was appointed General Superintendent of the English Wesleyan Missions in the Maritime Provinces, being four years at Halifax, N.S., two years at Charlottetown, P.E.I., and three years in the college at Sackville, N.B. He then returned to Ontario and was chosen Superintendent of Kingston Circuit and chairman of that District. He was next appointed Grand Superintendent of the Missions in British Columbia. He remained there nine years, then returned to Ontario and became Superintendent of Hamilton Circuit and chairman of the District. After two years service here, he was appointed Superintendent of Yorkville and chairman of Toronto District, remaining there two years. He then became Superintendent of Elgin Industrial School and chairman of St. Thomas District. At Brantford Conference he was superannuated.

Mr. Evans was twice married - first, on the 27th of June 1832, to Charlotte, daughter of Hon. Major-General Shaw, and again, in 1874, to Mary E., daughter of Robert Gunn, Wallacetown.

from "Spadunk" 1935 History of Davenport-Perth United Church - Toronto...

The following Resolution was passed by the Conference and presented to Dr. Evans on the occasion of his removal to the Canada Conference: -- "That the Conference hereby expresses its unfeigned and deep sense of the loss our work in Eastern British America will sustain by the removal of so valuable a brother as Dr. Evans; one who has rendered us such efficient service in the different positions he has so honourably and usefully sustained during his nine years residence in these Provinces, not only more recently in his connection with our academic institution, but also while filling the chair of a large and important District. The bretheren cannot allow Dr. Evans to separate from them without their unanimous expression of their high appreciation of his Christian character, and his effective and ministerial, business-like capabilities, as evinced in the prudent counsels and valuable aid afforded by him, in our new position as a conferential organization; and while the ties between him and them, as members of the same Conference are now to be severed, their earnest prayers will follow him to his intended destination, that in the sphere of labour, and wherever in future his providence lot may be cast, he may still be extensively useful in the work of the Lord, and that when the toils of earth are passed, we may all have the ineffiable delight of greeting him in the heavenly rest."

"The first pastor of Toronto West, after this division, was Ephraim Evans, D.D. (d. 1892, aged 89), a tall man, well-knit physically, and of comanding intellect. He had received a good commercial education in Hull, Yorkshire, and had taught school before entering the Methodist ministry in 1827. At twenty -five he had become a dynamic figure. In his prime, at Davenport, he combined the qualities of sprightliness, clarity and incisiveness, with debating ability second only to Egerton Ryersons's. Later he settled into a more argumentative style, and became a real champion in controversy. Evans was editor of the Christian Guardian, 1835-1837, and the first principal of Mount Allison. In 1874 he became Governor of the Mount Elgin Industrial Institute, and was superannuated in the following year.

...from the Dictionary of Canadian Biography Online...

Ephraim Evans, teacher, Methodist minister, editor, and school administrator was born on 30 June 1803 in Kingston upon Hull, England, son of James Evans and Mary —;brother of James. He married as his first wife on 27 June 1832, Charlotte Shaw, daughter of Æneas Shaw, and they had four daughters and a son. He married as his second wife on 16 July 1874, Mary E. Gunn, daughter of Robert Gunn of Wallacetown, Ont., and she survived him with a young family. He died on 14 June 1892 in London, Ont.

Ephraim Evans received some formal education at a boarding-school in Lincolnshire. In 1820 he accompanied his parents to Lachute, Lower Canada, and four years later he moved to Upper Canada to teach school. There, despite a strict Methodist upbringing, he began work on a novel. In 1827, however, he was converted at a revival in Bastard Township and almost immediately became a preacher on the Kingston circuit. In 1830 he was ordained, serving successively at Cobourg, Niagara (Niagara-on-the-Lake), Stamford (Niagara Falls), and Ancaster. During 1833–34 he stumped the western part of Upper Canada, raising money for the Methodists’ projected Upper Canada Academy.

In 1833, largely at the instigation of William, John, and Egerton Ryerson, the Canada Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church placed itself under the jurisdiction of the British Wesleyan Conference. The British, who had a tradition of deference to constituted authority, were distressed by the stridently reformist tone of the Canadians’ Christian Guardian. To reassure them, the Ryersons, seeking a conciliatory editor, engineered Evans’s election in 1835. Never was an editor’s position more difficult. Agitation over the clergy reserves was at its height, and the Methodist conference was claiming its right to an equal share even while it was disclaiming any intention of accepting government money for other than educational or “general religious” purposes. Evans defended this ambiguous policy as well as he could, resisting the claims of the Anglicans to exclusive possession on one flank while warding off attacks on another from continuing Methodist Episcopals such as James Richardson* who insisted on outright voluntarism. He was less successful in placating reform elements within the main Methodist body, for he was an ultra-loyalist who saw in the province only two parties, “one seeking to preserve the colonial relationship with Great Britain, and the other to end it.” A determined adversary of slavery, in 1837 he became secretary of the newly formed Upper Canada Anti-Slavery Society. This stance, which led him to condemn the equivocal position of American Methodism on the subject, gave further offence at a time when recognition of the Canadian body by the Americans was important. In 1838 it was determined, with the concurrence of the British conference’s superintendent of missions in Upper Canada, Joseph Stinson, that Egerton Ryerson should resume the editorial chair. As recompense Evans became chairman of the London district.

Even before Evans’s replacement, Ryerson’s objection to British Wesleyan demands for a purge of members who had sympathized with the rebellion of 1837 was opening a breach that would culminate in 1840 in the dissolution of the union. Evans’s position in this critical period was never in doubt. Convinced that only the presence of “true Wesleyanism” could preserve the British connection, he attributed the Ryersons’ earlier support of the union merely to a desire to exclude British missionaries from the province. Casting his lot with the British conference, he served its churches in Hamilton and London and in 1843 became secretary of its district meeting.

In 1847 the two Methodist bodies were reunited. Evans was reluctantly convinced that otherwise British Wesleyanism had no future in Upper Canada but also that his uncompromising stand had brought his usefulness there to an end. In the following year the British conference rescued him from his predicament by appointing him – on ten days notice – general superintendent of its work in the Maritime provinces. He also served as its missionary in Halifax until 1852 and then in Charlottetown until 1854. During his term of office he organized sustentation and contingent funds, piloted bills of incorporation for chapel trusts and the local district meeting through the Nova Scotia legislature, and was instrumental in securing the formation of a semi-autonomous conference in 1855. Less happy was a three-year tenure as governor and chaplain of the Wesleyan academies at Sackville, N.B., where principal Humphrey Pickard did not readily cede any of his previously unquestioned authority.

In 1857, with old wounds healed, Evans applied for a Canadian posting. If he hoped for a measure of relaxation, he was quickly disappointed. After a year in Kingston he was chosen to lead a party of four Methodist ministers, including Edward White*, to the Pacific coast, where the gold-rush had resulted in a sudden influx of population. On 10 Feb. 1859 he reached Victoria, which was to be his headquarters. The next month he led the party on a gruelling canoe trip up the Fraser River to Yale and back. In 1862 and 1863 he visited the new mining areas in the Cariboo, but a broken arm suffered in November 1864 brought his ambitious program of travel to an end. From 1866 to 1868 he served the less strenuous Nanaimo circuit, returning then to Ontario for pastorates at Hamilton and Yorkville (Toronto). From 1872 to 1875 he was in charge of the Mount Elgin Industrial Institution for Indian students at Muncey, finally settling in London, where for the next 14 years he was secretary of the Western Ontario Bible Society.

Evans was typically described by contemporaries as a man of military bearing, holding himself as erect as a soldier. Formidable in debate, he was also unfailingly courteous. On his first circuits he was instrumental in leading several revivals. In later years, although respected as a preacher of erudition and literary elegance, he made his mark chiefly as an administrator who could be trusted to perform difficult tasks well. A congregation to which he was appointed was likely soon to boast “a spacious and elegant chapel.” His last building, a parsonage at Muncey, he painted himself when over 70 years of age. In the Maritimes he was remembered as having introduced a measure of organization to a body that previously had little conception of it. While Evans’s reputation may have suffered somewhat from his espousal of unfashionable ecclesiastical and political views, his integrity, his ability, and his devotion to Methodism were always beyond question.

1827 Kingston, 1828 Cobourg, 1829 Kingston, 1830 Ordained Niagara, 1831-1832 Stamford, 1832 Beaverdams Thorold, 1833 joined Wesleyan Conference, 1833 Agent Upper Canada Academy, 1834 Ancaster, 1837 Toronto living at 56 Newgate St, 1838-1840 London Chairman, 1840 Trustee Norfolk Street - Guelph (Wellington Co.), 1841 Hamilton, 1842-1846 London, 1843 Adelaide (London), 1845 Guelph (Wellington Co.), 1847 Toronto West, 1848-1856 Eastern British American Conference, 1849-1851 Halifax, 1852-1853 Charlottetown PEI, 1854-1856 Governor and Chaplin Mount Allison Academy, 1857-1858 Kingston Chairman, 1859-1865 Victoria B.C. Chairman, 1866-1867 Nanaimo Chairman, 1868-1869 John Street - Hamilton Chairman, 1870-1871 Yorkville Village (York Co.) Chairman, 1872-1873 Muncey, Mt. Elgin Institution, 1875-1881 London (retired) Delegate to the First General Conference Toronto 1874, Chairman of District 1874, Delegate to General Conference Montreal 1878,

Canadian FlagCreated and maintained by: Ken Russell
Questions? E-mail:

Copyright © 2005 Canadian Methodist Historical Society
all rights reserved