Canadian Methodist Historical Society

ADAMS, Rev. Ezra

Rev. Ezra Adams, Pioneer Canadian, and one of the fathers of the Methodist Church in Canada (born 1788 - died 1871). The United Empire Loyalist branch of the Adams Family of New England has lived as long as any other family under the English flag in America. 'There were no Englishmen in Canada when their forefathers landed as Puritans in Massachusetts, and it was about this time that a couple of French Jesuits went as missionaries and according to Parkman, built the first house in Upper Canada. For ten generations on this continent they 'have maintained a reputation for integrity, manliness of character and adherence to principle almost unique in history for an old family in any country. Possessed of magnificent physique by heredity, they have held their own in every walk of life. the "Almighty dollar," too often the God of the American citizen, has been their servant and not their master, and while not classed amongst the wealthiest citizens they have always been known as amongst the "best citizens" of Canada and the United States.

One of his first circuits was from Stony Creek on the other side of Hamilton to beyond Muddy York, now Toronto, north to Lake Simcoe. As he had but one Methodist associate on this circuit and there were no railroads in those days it will readily be seen that a "circuit rider," as he was called, or preacher of the Gospel, must necessarily belong to the muscular type of Christianity and that the hardships and privations were not a few which these noble pioneers of Methodism endured in carrying the good tidings to the remote settlements.

This was before the days of the "buckboard" (a species of buggy), or that steel spring buggies came into use, when the roads were bad and travelling on horseback was the easiest and quickest means of transit.

With his saddlebags containing his Bible and hymn book, and a change of clothing, the stalwart form of Rev. Ezra Adams mounted on a good horse, was a familiar figure on the military roads during the troublesome times of the war of 1814, after which peace was made between the United States and Great Britain - a peace which has lasted for almost a century.

His health having failed from overwork in the ministry, Rev. Adams with his two brothers settled in what, is now the town of Acton. here they took up 200 acres of land each, and he built the first grist and saw mills, and here his youngest son, John G. Adams, of Toronto, was born in 1839.

The place was for some time called Adamsville, but afterward was changed to Acton. The Rev. Ezra Adams afterward sold the mills, as having returned to pastoral work he found it interfered with his calling.

Newmarket was his first charge after leaving Acton and Stratford circuit before his retirement from active work in the ministry. From Stratford he removed to what is now the town of Drayton, township of Peel, County Wellington, and which was then being known as the "Queen's Bush."

Here he and the Rev. Benjamin Jones became the pioneers of the present town of Drayton, and here they built the first church in western Ontario in the Queen's bush, north of Elora.

His home, the second to he built in that section of the county, was known throughout the countryside for long afterwards as the "Methodist Inn," on account of the old-fashioned hospitality of the owner and the fact that it was the only large house in this section of 'the country.

He lived to see a thriving village and prosperous farming community develop in what was once but a forest wilderness when he retired from active work in the ministry.

Rev. Ezra Adams and Isa Proctor had children as follows:

Betsy Almira Adams, born in Fredericksburg, Upper Canada, Oct. 16, 1815, married June 15. 1832, Rev. Thomas Hurlbert

Henry Proctor Adams, born near Lundy's Lane, March 12, 1822, settled in Acton, County Halton, where he learned his occupation of miller and afterward, in 1855, built mills and did an extensive business, building up what is now the town of Hanover, where his son, James Henry Adams, still resides, and is resident manager of the Merchants' Bank.

William Case Adams, born near Lundy's Lane; Oct.18, 1823, married Oct.20, 1857, Matilda Osman; daughter of John Osman, Esq., of Seneca New York One daughter, Miss L.0. Adams, still resides in Toronto, where she is well known as an artist.

Eliza Roxana Adams was born in Adamsville (Acton), township of Esquesing, Halton county Ontario in 1828, and married Rev. Matthew Swann,, who was educated in Upper Canada College.

George Washington Adams, born in Acton in 1830, resides in Grand Rapids Michigan.

John Adams, born in Acton 1832, died 1832.

William Case Adams, dentist, was born in the Methodist parsonage at Lundy's Lane, near Niagara, on the 18th October, 1823, and is the third son of the Rev. Ezra Adams, U.E. Loyalist and Methodist minister, whose first circuit, in 1814, extended from Rama, on Lake Simcoe, down Yonge Street to York, and west to St. Catherines and Newark (now Niagara), thence to Queenston and on to Long Point, taking six weeks for the trip. Owing to the lack of postal communication, Mr. Adams carried letters for such as wished, this being the only way then of conveying news to friends at a distance.

The early education of Dr. Adams was chiefly by his mother, who was a school teacher previous to her marriage. After spending some time studying he went to Victoria College, Cobourg, and from thence to Highblue, Missouri, where he commenced the study of medicine with Dr. Berryman. He returned to Canada and finally turned his attention to dentistry, studying about a year with Dr. Harris and a year with a Dr. Jones, when he settled in Toronto, on King Street, in 1854. In 1870 he was elected one of the teachers in the Dental College and Infirmary, which position he held until 1873.

Dr. Adams is possessed of considerable mechanical skill, and has invented an appliance for removing roots and decayed stumps of teeth. With this instrument stumps and roots can be removed from the mouth with ease when all other known methods have failed. He was admitted a member of the American Dental Convention at Saratoga, which society changed its name from the American National Dental Convention in order to admit him and others from Canada. He is also a member of the Masonic body and Royal Arcanum, and is a member of the Methodist Church.

... from "A History of Toronto and County of York" - 1885

The following is from (Commemorative Biographical Records Of The County of York, Ontario 1907

William Case Adams, was the third dentist to practice in Toronto and was one of the founders or the Royal College of Dental Surgeons of Ontario, and one of the first professors in the School of Dentistry.

His literary education was obtained in Victoria University and Dr Nathaniel Burwash Chancellor of Victoria University-, says of him in "The Christian Guardian"1899 'He was a descendant of the Adams Family of Massachusetts, which has given to the United States so many of her foremost names. He with others of his family were U.E.. Loyalists and bringing to Canada and Canadian Methodism their hereditary ability and force of character, made no unworthy contribution to the building of our national life.

In the later forties, under the presidency of the late Dr. McNab, Mr. Adams, completed his literary education. In Victoria College where his fine physique and force of character made him a leader in manly exercises and in Christian work, and gave him a moral influence which commanded the esteem of professors and students alike. Commencing the practice of his profession in the city of Toronto, he became at once associated with the old Adelaide Street Church, a member of its official board, a class leader, a trustee, a Bible class leader and an active worker in all social reform and Christian benevolence. For over forty years he practised his profession in Toronto. Jane Maria Adams, born in Adamsville (Acton) in 1826, married about 1852, Archibald MacCallum,, principal of the Normal school at Hamilton, and afterward of the Model School in Toronto.

The following information in reference to the Rev. Ezra Adams is taken from "The Handbook of Canadian Methodism," by the Rev. George H. Cornish (printed at the Wesleyan Book and Job Printing Co., Toronto, 1867)

The first Canadian Methodist Conference was held in Canada in 1824 and at that time there were in connection with the church thirty-five ministers and preachers. These travelled in Canada under the direction of the Methodist Episcopal Church, United States, prior to the formation of the Canada Conference, or travelled under the direction of the English Conference.

For ten years previous to this Rev. Ezra Adams was actively engaged in the ministry of the Gospel under the Methodist Episcopal Church of the United States. His first circuit, in 1814, was Ancaster and Long Point. This circuit extended from the Niagara river to beyond Little York or Toronto around the head of Lake Ontario and Burlington Bay, westward beyond Oxford and southward to Long 1815 and 1816 he was on the Bay of Quinte Circuit; 1817, Hallowell; 1818-1819, Ottawa; 1820-1821,Thames; 1822-1823, Niagara.

While in the County of York his circuits after 1814 were, according to the same authority: Yonge Street, 1830 Toronto Circuit, 1840 Newmarket,. 1842-43-44; Markham, 1845 and 1846. In 1831 and 1832, Rev. Ezra Adams was presiding elder of the London District, and in 1833 and 1834 presiding Elder of the Munceytown District. In 1835 he was in Prescott and Augusta. From 1836 to 1839 inclusive he was superannuated. His last two appointments were Bradford, 1847, and Stratford, 1848, when he was superannuated on. account of old age after thirty-four years in the ministry."( He was affectionately known as "Father Adams" or "Uncle Ezra", a tradition followed by his great, great grandson, "Father" David C. Adams.)

ADAMS, Ezra (Christian Guardian) Late Rev. Ezra Adams - an appreciation born 1835 Prescott died Jan 21 1924 Courtland Ontario, 89 years old Mrs. Adams died Feb 1923 survived by 1 son and 4 daughters 1841 living Guelph with parents

Charges: 1815-1816 Bay of Quinte, 1817 Hallowell, 1818-1819 Ottawa, 1820-1821 Thames, 1822-1823 Niagara, 1823 Hallowell (Prince Edward Co.), 1830 Yonge St, 1831-1835 London/Munceytown, 1835-1836 Prescott/Augusta, 1836-1839 Nelson, 1840 Toronto, 1841 Woolwich/Norfolk St. Guelph (Wellington Co.), 1842 Queen's Bush (Wellington Co.), 1842-1844 Newmarket, 1845-1846 Markham, 1846 Pickering, 1847 Bradford, 1848 Stratford, 1849-1874 Drayton (Wellington Co.), 1851-1855 Peel (Wellington Co.) superannuated, 1863 Drayton (Wellington Co.), 1871 Peel (Wellington Co.)

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