Jeffery Hale was educated in England, enlisted in the Royal Navy at age 14, and served in it for ten years. At one time during this period he was in India, where together with his brother Edward* he was under the orders of his uncle, William Pitt Amherst, Earl of Amherst, the governor general. He left the navy in 1827, some time after obtaining the rank of lieutenant, in order to help, then to replace his ailing father as receiver general of Lower Canada. His hopes of succeeding him on his death in 1838 unfortunately came to nothing. Jeffery Hale does not seem to have held any other lucrative post subsequently.
At Quebec, Hale soon became interested in benevolent societies and Anglican religious organizations: the British and Foreign Bible Society, the London Religious Tract Society, the Quebec Mission Society, and the Protestant Ladies’ Asylum of Quebec all received his attention. His greatest efforts, however, were devoted to education. He set up on 16 June 1833 the first English Sunday school at Quebec, the Free Chapel Sunday School, and in its session of 1835–36 he also submitted to the assembly a request for financial assistance for the British and Canadian School Society of the District of Quebec. The aim of this society, founded in 1823 in the Saint-Roch district by Joseph-François Perrault*, was to ensure the advantages of elementary education to young Anglophones of the poorer classes. In 1837, when the legislature’s help was no longer sufficient, Hale, as one of the directors of the society, announced in Le Canadien of 6 November that a fund had been launched to assist this institution. It is not surprising that his name appeared at the head of the list in the act incorporating the society on 9 June 1846. Furthermore, according to the Journal of Education, Hale founded and maintained several other schools. Letters from family correspondence make clear the affection he had for these schools and their students. His will, moreover, contained provisions intended to ensure the continued existence of his Sunday school.
Jeffery Hale also sought to encourage thrift: he was one of the founders of the Quebec Provident and Savings Bank (Banque de Prévoyance et d’Épargnes de Québec) in 1847. He interested himself in the health and welfare of his fellow-countrymen: in his will he left £9,000 (about $36,000) for the founding of a hospital to care for Protestants of all denominations; Jeffery Hale’s Hospital is one of Quebec’s principal hospitals today. He also took part in the founding of Victoria Hospital in 1855.
Jeffery Hale had the reputation of achieving perfection in the tasks he undertook. His settlement of his father’s estate, his struggle to expand education, his commitment to charitable works are examples. Journalists and historians describe him as an eminently respectable citizen, a true Christian, and one who did not propose to abdicate his responsibilities; writing to his brother Edward on 29 Nov. 1843, he clearly expressed opposition to the absolute power of the Anglican bishop in the Church Society.
Although not a person of the first rank, Jeffery Hale played an active role in the Anglican community of Quebec; the importance of his participation in the financing and vigorous maintenance of charitable works are well illustrated by a comment in the Morning Chronicle shortly after his death: “the several schools he mainly supported from his own private means will, it is to be feared, be placed in pecuniary embarrassment.”
ANQ-Q, AP-P–931. AVQ, Rôles d’évaluation et d’imposition, 1864–66. McCord Museum, Hale family papers. PAC, MG 23, G II, 18. Journal of Education for Lower Canada (Montreal), February–March 1865, 34. Le Courier du Canada, oct. 1864–févr. 1865. Morning Chronicle (Quebec), 8 Dec. 1864. Quebec Gazette, 19 Dec. 1864. A. R. Kelley, “The Quebec Diocesan Archives, a description of the collection of historical records of the Church of England in the diocese of Quebec,” ANQ Rapport, 1946–47, 206, 222. McLaughlin’s Quebec directory (McLaughlin), 1855–67. P.-G. Roy, Fils de Québec, III, 118–19. L.-P. Audet, Hist. de l’enseignement, I, 356–76; II, 3–52; Le système scolaire, VI, 205–9. Denison, Première banque au Canada, II, 85. Hamelin et Roby, Hist. économique, 429–30. André Labarrère-Paulé, Les instituteurs laïques au Canada français, 1836–1900 (Québec, 1965), 92. Storied Quebec (Wood et al.), III, 80–82. “La famille Hale,” BRH, XXXVIII (1932), 750.