Canaan is a prototype shapeshifter created and abandoned by David Robert Jones to die as a failed experiment. He survived and was brought over to the Prime Universe by Lincoln Lee to be cured by Walter and Peter, and allowed a life of his own.
Canaan describes his life before meeting David Robert Jones as being a lost face in the crowd. After his girlfriend and her son left him, he became deeply depressed and was then approached by David Robert Jones, who offered to make him "the first of a new breed".
Unfortunately, the early shapeshifter technology was flawed. Instead of creating a shapeshifter it turned Canaan into a DNA vampire, forced to absorb the DNA and appearance of others to survive. Seeing his creation as useless, Jones abandoned him, promising to return to "fix" him, but hopeful that he would die on his own.
Jones underestimated his creation's will to survive. Canaan made his way to the Amber zones to live as a recluse. He fed on criminals in order to survive, becoming somewhat of a vigilante.
When the Amber zones were being reopened due to the transference of energy between the universes, Canaan's "nest" was discovered by workmen. Already hunted for his vigilante activities, the Fringe Division and Agent Lincoln Lee realized they were dealing with some form of shapeshifter after Lincoln noticed the wounds in the mouths of the victims matched the early shapeshifters. In this case the wounds were caused by a tentacle-like appendage growing in Canaan's mouth, rather than a piece of technology.
The agents cornered him in an abandoned building and the creature was ready to kill Agent Lee; however, when he saw the agent's badge, he let him go and was eventually caught. Surprised that it has spared his life, he asked Olivia for a few moments to speak with it, hoping to get information about Jones and the Shapeshifters. Speaking with Canaan, Lincon realised that, unlike the later shapeshifters, Canaan's humanity and morals were still intact, and his programmed loyalty to Jones had not taken hold. He was like a child wanting to please a parent rather than a mindless follower of Jones. Lincoln attempted to convice him that it didn't have to protect Jones, as his so called "savior" viewed him as a loose end but the shapeshifter refused to believe him.
Things changed when an hitman was sent by Nina Sharp to kill Canaan. Agent Lee told the creature this was meant for him and he had to choose to think for himself and not blindly wait for Jones. Canaan was allowed to feed on the body of the hitman and infiltrated the shapeshifter compound, fooling alternate Nina into thinking he was the hitman. She realized all too late that she had been tricked when agents surrounded the compound.
Canaan was then taken to the Prime Universe by Lincoln and put in the care of Peter and Walter in order to cure his need to feed on DNA.
Canaan is the prototype of the current shapeshifters created by David Robert Jones. Unlike the later shapeshifters who were stripped of any humanity or moral code, he still possesses these traits, leading him to target only criminals and to spare innocents. He is as stong as the current shapeshifters as he was able to pin and hold his victims with little effort.
Unlike later shapeshifters, Canaaan has a vampire-like need to consume DNA, which forces him to periodically change form in order to survive. His most unusual feature is a tentacle-like tendril that emerges from his mouth, that can attach itself into a victim to feed on their DNA.