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Dictionary of Miramichi Biography

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DOAK, ROBERT (1785-1857)

DOAK, ROBERT, innkeeper, mill owner, farmer, and magistrate; b. Ochiltree parish, Ayrshire, Scotland, 4 Apr 1785, s/o Robert Doak Sr and Agnes Duncan; m. 1808, Jean Kirkland, of Ayrshire; d. Doaktown, 5 Apr 1857.

Robert Doak arrived on the Miramichi with his family in 1815 and soon established himself as an innkeeper in Derby (then Nelson) parish. In 1818 his elder brother James Doak also came to the province, and the two formed a partnership with Alexander MacLaggan to operate a sawmill at Blackville. A few years afterwards, the Doaks moved twenty miles upriver, where their father, Robert Doak Sr, had recently settled. Here in the early 1820s Doak bought land for a farm and erected water-powered carding and grist mills. He later added a sawmill and an oat mill. He still (or again) had an interest in the MacLaggan sawmill at Blackville in 1834, at which time the MacLaggan, Doak & Hilton partnership was dissolved.

Doak was a school trustee for Blissfield (then Ludlow) parish as early as 1825 and held numerous other responsible parish offices, including those of town clerk and clerk of the market, which underscores the fact that he was a practicing farmer as well as a businessman. In 1825 he was appointed a justice of the peace. He was one of a small number of justices who were also authorized to solemnize marriages. His unique status as a justice in Blissfield parish over a period of more than thirty years led to his being known throughout the county as "Squire Doak."

Doak was the first keeper of the "Blissfield" postal way office in 1842, but this office was not listed in 1851. The name "Doaktown" came into use in 1854 when Hiram Freeze was appointed keeper of the way office. Historical recognition was accorded Doak and his family in the 1980s when the provincial government established the Doak Historic Park on their former farm.

Doak and his wife, Jean Kirkland, had three daughters, including Margaret (Doak) Robinson, the wife of Hiram Freeze, and three sons, including the Rev. William Doak, an 1850 graduate of King's College, Fredericton, who lived in the United States and was married to a cousin of Thomas Edison, and James A. Doak, who inherited his father's "tools of trade" and property at Doaktown. James A. Doak died in 1863, at age thirty-nine, leaving the Doak enterprises to his widow, Ann Harvie, and their thirteen-year-old son, Robert Harvie Doak.

Sources

[b/m] DCB [d] Gleaner 11 Apr 1857 / Gleaner 24 Jun 1834, 11 Aug 1855, 22 Aug 1863; JHS (appendices: post offices); MacKinnon; NB Almanac & Reg.; Rayburn; St Michael's Museum (copy of will of Robert Doak)


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