Informally compiled by Peter's daughter, Linda.
"The author will gladly receive for possible future publication any corrections or additions to the contents of this section (biography and genealogy) for the period named."
Ewart is a Scottish name. A contract document in my possession, dated 1837, concerns Peter Ewart (1819 - 1892), son of Thomas Ewart of Barnard Castle in the County of Durham, North England. The contract, charmingly worded by modern standards, pledges Peter's three year term of apprenticeship to John Green, a woollens manufacturer in Wolsingham, Durham County N England.
After a successful apprenticeship, Peter met and married Hannah, and they had a daughter, Jane Ann, born in 1847,
Clarence Maxwell Ewart
and a son, John, born in 1851. Oral history indicates that Jane Ann and John were born in England, but at this time no records have been located in either England or Canada to confirm this, or to describe the particulars of their early lives.
In the latter part of the 19th century, Ewarts on the branch of the family tree related to Peter Maxwell, my father, had come to settle in Yarker, Ontario. Jane Ann's husband, Thomas Birch Townsend b.1847, had come to Canada from Coventry with his family in 1863, and they homesteaded in Harrowsmith which is not all that far from Yarker. As a young boy, their son, Thomas Franklin Townsend worked in Yarker's sawmill making wooden crates. John (1851-1911), father of Clarence Maxwell Ewart (1889 -1944) and paternal grandfather of Peter Maxwell (1918 - 2001), became a general store merchant in Yarker.
Clarence's boyhood was spent going to school and church, helping and learning from his parents and fulfilling his role as middle child between his two sisters Violet and Frances. As a boy he contracted scarlet fever, but rallied to become active and seemingly strong. Varty Lake, just northwest of Yarker, was a favourite recreation spot, and father and son often camped and explored the beaches, coves and forested places in the area.
Clarence's father loved the outdoors with a passion. He was, in addition, an avid amateur naturalist, and knowledgeable about wildlife, vegetation and historical connections and artifacts in and around the Yarker area and beyond. Time was spent near Kingston, Ontario each spring, looking for relics and watching for birds and animals that might appear. Especially interested in the collection of Huron and Algonquin artifacts that could be found in the area, he cultivated in his son a love of the outdoors, and a knowledge of native lore and survival. They hiked, camped, canoed and portaged as they imagined the Voyageurs would have done on a more rugged scale in years before them. The ploughed fields after the spring rains yielded items as yet unearthed, and father and son collected these treasures whenever they could find them.
A story was passed down in the family that, while exploring with young Clarence one spring in the woods near Kingston, a wild passenger pigeon's nest was found containing viable eggs. Father and son left the nest untouched and the same day informed local authorities who returned the next day, only to find the nest invaded, by a weasel most likely, and the eggs destroyed. No passenger pigeons were ever seen in the wild again.
So, it seems, John Ewart significantly influenced his son, fathering an intelligent and well-rounded young man who could easily and joyfully set forth on wilderness adventures with assurance and skill. His basic schooling completed, Clarence attended Bissell College, and in 1909, played on the Bissell College Baseball team.
Clarence was a striking figure, possessed of a clear sense of purpose and vision, who worked hard over the years he was given to lead a fulfilling, adventuresome and upstanding life. Most likely as a result of rheumatic fever in his youth, he had a significant heart attack while running for a streetcar in Montreal, which slowed him down dramatically. He lived for almost a year more before his death in 1944 at the age of 55.
On Peter Maxwell's mother's side, the Doanes have an extensively documented history dating back in its farthest reaches to 11th Century France (Normandy) and the Norman Conquests. ("DeOane" becoming "Doane")
Born about 1590, John Doane, founder of the Doane family in America, came in 1629 to Plymouth, North America. He had not arrived on the Mayflower; in fact the vessel on which he sailed is unrecorded. He had taken no legal departure from England, and came as an unknown, most likely from Cheshire, in order to avoid enforced allegiance to the church. He settled first in Plymouth and came to be one of the principal men in affairs there, serving as deputy to the general court. He was also one of the assistants of the governor and a member of the committee to revise the laws in 1636. In 1644 he moved as co-founder to Eastham, Massachusetts, becoming Deacon of the first church in Eastham and Deputy to the Court. He died on February 1st, 1685.
There is so much history connected with the Doanes that it would be foolish to try to document it here. There have been excellent books written on the history surrounding early eastern coastal settlements. The ones in my possession (only four) are:
- A History of Barrington Township and Vicinity, 1604-1870 by Arnold Doane
(given in 1923 to my great-grandmother Amanda Doane by co-author Edwin Crowell)
- Down in Nova Scotia
- More About Nova Scotia by Clara Dennis, published 1934
- This Was Barrington by Hattie A.Perry, published in 1973.
These and so many others are interesting sources for anyone interested in the genealogy of the settlers of Shelburne County, Nova Scotia. To continue briefly:
Fifth generation from John Doane was Josiah Payne Doane (1784 -1878), who married Mary Wood (1787 - 1846), producing 13 offspring of whom Arnold (1833 - 1911) was the youngest. Smith, Frost, Wellesley, Bell, Wood, Harding, Wright, Crowell, Mann, Hanes, Coffin, Payne, Sargent, Knowles, Nickerson, Campbell, Waterhouse, Pinkham, and Attwood are all names found on the branches of the maternal side of my father's family tree. Empire Loyalists in the 1760's, the family continued to settle along the eastern seaboard, and then throughout Canada and the United States. A talent and passion for ships and seafaring took some adventurous family members to Mexico and Cuba. The Doane family is "easily the largest of the families which has descended from the Plymouth Pilgrims."
Edith Doane 1882-1955
Edith Doane (1882-1955), mother of Peter Maxwell (Ewart), grew up in the auspicious support of her father Arnold, her mother Amanda, and her older brother Fred, in Barrington, Nova Scotia. Arnold had graduated at the Royal Academy of Music, London, England and for many years conducted a school of music in Halifax, Nova Scotia. From 1884 he resided at Barrington, composing and teaching music there. He was also a member of the Nova Scotia Historical Society, much interested in genealogical and historical research. Even if his propensity for family history was not inherited by his grandson Peter (they never met), his background in classical music most certainly supplied the ground in which were planted seeds that would eventually grow into Peter's profound and sensitive appreciation of music and the arts.
Peter didn't really take much of an interest in the details of his family's history. Documents, letters, books and keepsakes exist as a result of the attention and patient encouragement of his mother. There is little at this time to document his father's, the Ewarts', side of the family. Summers camping and canoeing in Southern Ontario gave Peter a more "hands on" understanding of his father and his boyhood experiences, and the family's appreciation of the land; probably a more effective and meaningful way to inspire his son and carry on practical traditions that would serve him well.