Peter Jones

Fonds number:
Title: Peter Jones
Dates of Material:
91 cm of textual records
3 photographs: b&w
2 small oil paintings
4 reels of 35 mm microfilm
1 mezzotint
Introduction to the Collection

Peter Jones (1802–1856), known as Kahkewaquonaby in Ojibwa and Desagondensta in Mohawk, was an Ojibway Chief, Missionary and Educator. Victoria University Library owns a collection of Peter Jones’s correspondence, including correspondence; autobiographical material; hymns in translation (1877); histories of the Ojibwa Indians; (notes for) sermons and other professional material; diaries (1829), journals, photographs and other personal material; miniature portraits of Peter Jones and Eliza Field (by Matilda Jones); material about Jones including leaflets and clippings; and other material including petitions from Natives (1826–1844). Materials relating to Eliza Jones (née Field) include correspondence, primarily with members of her family; personal material including notes on sermons, 20 diaries/notebooks (1823–1883) and photographs; and other material. Also included in the collection are materials relating to John Sunday, including a photograph, a clipping, the record of his ordination as a minister and a bible. Additional monographs on and by Jones are also held in the Victoria University Library collections.

Accessing the Collection

There are three ways to access the collection:

University of Toronto Catalogue:
Contains published items by and about Jones held in the entire University of Toronto Libraries, including items in the collections at Victoria University Library. There are electronic texts available—please see selected resources below.

Guide to the Peter Jones Papers:
A detailed finding aid for manuscript and transcript materials contained in the Peter Jones Fonds. The fonds contains materials relating to Peter Jones, Eliza Jones and John Sunday. A printed index to the finding aid is available in the library.

Digital Collections Repository:
Contains a selection of records from the Peter Jones fonds that have been digitized and uploaded to the library's online repository. Records include sermons, notebooks, portraits and correspondence.


E.J. Pratt Library is committed to making its records as accessible as possible, however we recognize and acknowledge that some digitized material from the Peter Jones fonds contains content that may be offensive or harmful, particularly the correspondence related to the missionary work of Jones and his colleagues. The Library strives to provide context for these items through descriptive records, and where considered necessary, statements have been added to digitized objects that provide a warning about potentially sensitive content. Please read the descriptions in the Notes fields carefully before viewing the items.

We invite you to contact us if any information presented is incorrect or should be made private: victoria [dot] library [at] utoronto [dot] ca

Biographical sketch

Peter Jones (1802–1856) known in Ojibwa as Kahkewaquonaby, meaning “sacred feathers’ or “sacred waving feathers”; also known as Desagondensta, in Mohawk, signifying “he stands people on their feet” was a Mississauga Ojibwa chief, a member of the eagle totem, a farmer, a Methodist minister, an author, and a translator. He was born at Burlington Heights (Hamilton), Upper Canada, the son of Augustus Jones and Tuhbenahneequay.

He married Eliza Field in 1833, and they had five sons, four of whom survived infancy. He died near Brantford, Upper Canada.

Jones lived among the Mississauga people, then among the Mohawk on the Grand River. At the age of fourteen his father sent him to school in Saltfleet township, where he became known as Peter Jones. He was baptized at the age of eighteen, but by his own account, not converted until 1823. He taught Sunday School and preached occasionally. In 1825 he was invited by William Case to work as a Methodist, and was asked to keep a journal of his travels. He became the first Canadian native to keep a journal, the first native missionary to be appointed to serve the Ojibwa and, with his brother John, the first translator of Biblical literature into such native tongues as Ojibwa and Chippewa. He was responsible for the establishment of a native mission on the Credit River in 1825. He was received on trial for ministry in 1827, became a deacon in 1830, and an elder in 1833. He was elected chief of two Ojibwa bands. In 1831, Jones traveled to England on behalf of the Methodist Conference to raise funds for Indian missions, and also to represent native causes to British authorities. He preached in Methodist churches throughout Britain, arranged to have translations of the New Testament published, and was presented to King William IV. He was received by Queen Victoria in 1837 and delivered a petition from the Ojibwa requesting the title to Indian lands. In 1844 he was compelled to accept supernumerary status due to poor health. He continued to travel in Britain and France gathering funds for Indian missions. He also worked among the native people at Muncey and New Credit. After 1850 he was forced to retire due to his health. He built a home in Brantford with his wife, where he lived until his death. Eliza Jones later married again and was known as Eliza Carey.

Jones’ publications include: Removal of the River Credit Indians, an article in the Christian Guardian, concerning the relocation of his tribe (1848), The sermon and Speeches of the Rev. Peter Jones, alias, Kah-ke-wa-quon-a-by, the Converted Indian Chief, delivered on the occasion of the eighteenth anniversary of the Wesleyan Methodist Missionary Society, for the Leeds District (1831). His translations include: The First Book of Moses, called Genesis (1835) and A Collection of Chippeway and English hymns, for the use of the native Indians (1840). His Life and Journals of Kah-ke-wa-quo-na-by (Rev. Peter Jones), Wesleyan Missionary (1860), and History of the Ojibway Indians: with especial reference to their conversion to Christianity (1861, editor: Eliza Jones) were published posthumously.

Source: Dictionary of Canadian Biography, vol. VIII, 1851 to 1860 / Francess G. Halpenny. - / Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1985

Custodial history

A photograph of John Wesley and letters written by John Wesley were presented to Peter Jones by James Everett. The letterbook acquired from George Laidler was transferred with the consent of members of the family of the late Col. C.R. McCullogh. Otherwise, the custodial history is unknown.

Scope and content

The fonds consists of Peter Jones’s records pertaining to his activities as a minister, author and translator, and to his personal life. It also consists of records pertaining to Eliza Field Jones’s personal life, and to John Sunday’s personal life.

Source of supplied title

Title based on contents of the fonds.


The fonds is stored in 9 boxes.

Immediate source of acquisition

Part of the fonds was acquired from Mrs. P.C. Jones prior to 1952. A photograph of a portrait of Jones held elsewhere and a letterbook containing holograph copies made by Eliza Jones of letters from Peter Jones to Eliza Jones were acquired from George Laidler. A portrait of Peter Jones was acquired in 1907. In 1956 the Library purchased additional correspondence of Peter Jones, two miniature oil portraits of Peter Jones and Eliza Field, and a watercolour painting of the Credit Mission. The material held in Box 8 was acquired from Victoria University Archives in 1988. The letter in Box 3 File 11 was purchased by the Library in 2017.

The Peter Jones mezzotint (2019.08) was purchased by the Library from Grosvenor Prints in 2019.

Language of material


Access restrictions

Restrictions on access: No restrictions on access.

Terms governing use and reproduction

Part of the material is available on microfilm which researchers are requested to use unless an inquiry can be satisfied only by consulting original documents. For further information contact the Chief Librarian. See file list.

Finding aids

File list available

Related material

Victoria University Archives: biographical material, along with photographs.

A transcribed version of the anecdote book in Box 1, File 5 is available through the Digital Collections website. It was generously given to E.J. Pratt Library by Peter Davis, a member of the Champlain Society Council who is currently living in Penetanguishene, Ont. Davis completed the transcription in 2022 and offered it to the Library in January 2023. Refer to the file description in Series 1 for information on how to access it.


No further accruals are expected.

Access points

Provenance access point: Jones, Peter, 1802–1856
Jones, Eliza Field, 1804–1890
Sunday, John, c. 1795–1875

Related resources


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The following resources are from Early Canadiana Online:

Collection of Ojebway and English Hymns, for the Use of the Native Indians by Peter Jones

Sermon and Speeches of the Rev. Peter Jones, Alias Kah-ke-wa-quon-a-by, the Converted Indian Chief: delivered on the occasion of the eighteenth anniversary of the Wesleyan Methodist Missionary Society, for the Leeds District: held in Brunswick and Albion Street Chapels, Leeds, September the 25th, 26th, and 27th, 1831 by Peter Jones

Nugumouinun genumugumouat igiu anishinabeg anumiajig / [Peter Jones].

Ojibue nvgvmouinvn. Geaiouajin igiu anishinabeg envmiajig / Jones, Peter ; Evans, James ; Henry, George ; Hall, Sherman

History of the Ojebway Indians: with especial reference to their conversion to Christianity by Peter Jones

Tracts in the Chippeway and English: comprising seven hymns, the decalogue, the Lord’s Prayer, the apostle’s creed = O zhe pe e kun nun nah pun a i ee ah ne she nah pa moo mah kah toon ah sha wa ee tush ween ah gun osh she moo mah kah toon ne zhswah sweeh nah kah moo we nun kia by Peter Jones

Memoir of Elizabeth Jones: A Little Indian Girl Who Lived at the River-Credit Mission, Upper Canada by Eliza Jones

Case and his cotemporaries, or, The Canadian itinerants’ memorial: constituting a biographical history of Methodism in Canada, from its introduction into the Province, till the death of the Rev. Wm. Case in 1855 by John Carroll

By canoe and dog train among the Cree and Salteaux Indians by Egerton R.Young (Egerton Ryerson)

Canadian Savage Folk: the Native Tribes of Canada by John Maclean

James Evans, Inventor of the Syllabic System of the Cree Language by John Maclean

Indian treaties and surrenders, from 1680 to 1890

Report on the Indians of Upper Canada: Aborigines Protection Society

The following resources are from University of Toronto Libraries:

Nineteenth Century Masterfile
The 19th Century Masterfile is an accumulation of various indexes to printed materials from the nineteenth century. It includes numerous citations to works by and translated by Peter Jones. UofT logo

A Collection of Chippeway and English Hymns, for the Use of the Native Indians. Translated by Peter Jones... To Which are Added a Few Hymns Translated by the Rev. James Evans and George Henry from the Making of America Collection from the University of Michigan Digital Library Production Service

Morgan, Cecilia. “‘The Joy My Heart Has Experienced’: Eliza Field Jones and the Transatlantic Missionary World, 1830s–40s.” Mixed Blessings: Indigenous Encounters with Christianity in Canada, edited by Justin Tolly Bradford and Chelsea Horton, UBC Press, 2016, pp. 83–101.

Schmalz, Peter S. The Ojibwa of Southern Ontario. University of Toronto Press, 1991.

Sherwin, Allan L. Bridging Two Peoples: Chief Peter E. Jones, 1843–1909. Wilfrid Laurier University Press, 2012.

Smith, Donald B. “Peter Jones, or Kahkewaquonaby (1802–1856), and Canada West, Spring 1856.” Mississauga Portraits: Ojibwe Voices from Nineteenth-Century Canada, University of Toronto Press, 2013, pp. 3–32.

Smith, Donald B. Sacred Feathers: the Reverend Peter Jones (Kahkewaquonaby) and the Mississauga Indians. 2nd. ed., University of Toronto Press, 2013.

The following resources are online:

Lund, Jennifer. Negotiating Race and Gender in the Diaries of Eliza Jones, British Wife of an Ojibwa Missionary in Upper Canada, 1823–1883. 2010. York University, PhD dissertation.

Aboriginal Archives Guide: The Association of Canadian Archivists

Peter Jones page on Wikipedia

Internet Archive

In Hindsight Episode 5: Peter and Eliza Jones
Episode 5 of In Hindsight, a podcast series presented by Donald B. Smith and produced by the Ontario Historical Society.

Related special collections at Victoria University Library