HALE, JOHN, office holder, militia officer, politician, jp, and seigneur; b. 1765 in England, eldest son of Colonel John Hale and Mary Chaloner; d. 24 Dec. 1838 at Quebec.
John Hale belonged to a very old family from the north of England. His father, a close friend of Major-General James Wolfe*, commanded the 47th Foot at Quebec in 1759. It was he whom Wolfe, as he was dying, chose to bear the news of the taking of Quebec to London. Hale seemed destined to follow in his father’s footsteps. He joined the marines on 2 Dec. 1776 and became a lieutenant in the 2nd Foot on 12 May 1779. In 1793 he was put on half pay as a captain, and in the years following he accompanied Prince Edward* Augustus to Halifax as his aide-de-camp and military secretary. Back in England early in 1798, Hale married Elizabeth Frances Amherst* in London on 3 April 1799. They were to have four daughters and eight sons, including Edward* and Jeffery*.
Hale returned to Quebec in June 1799 as deputy paymaster general of the British troops stationed in the Canadas. In 1807 he succeeded Thomas Aston Coffin* as inspector general of public accounts. He also received a number of commissions. In 1800 he was named to the commission for the management of the Jesuit estates. Along with John Mure* and François Bellet*, in 1811 he was appointed commissioner for obtaining plans for a parliament building. Governor Sir George Prevost* made him a justice of the peace for the districts of Quebec, Trois-Rivières, and Montreal in 1813. In 1818 Hale was named to a committee to assist sick and destitute strangers. He was a member of the Legislative Council from 3 Dec. 1808 to 27 March 1838, and served as speaker three times – 23 Feb. 1814 to 16 Jan. 1815; 21 Feb. 1815 to 21 Jan. 1816; and 7 Feb. 1817 to 10 March 1823. He sat on the Executive Council from 28 Dec. 1820 until his death. At the request of Governor Lord Dalhousie [Ramsay], he was also on a three-member committee charged in 1823 with examining the state of the public coffers under Receiver General John Caldwell. When Caldwell was found guilty of misappropriating funds, Hale was appointed to replace him on 25 November, and he remained receiver general until his death. Like his predecessor, he was unable to avoid criticism from the Patriote party, which accused him of authorizing expenditures without consulting the assembly.
The Hales, who came from wealthy families, owned properties in England as well as in Upper and Lower Canada. In July 1799 Hale bought several pieces of land and a house on Rue Saint-Louis at Quebec. He sold the residence at a substantial profit on 3 June 1815, and then on 5 March 1818 paid £4,210 for three other lots and a two-storey stone house on Rue des Carrières. On 27 Sept. 1819 he bought the seigneury of Sainte-Anne-De La Pérade from Marie-Anne Tarieu de Lanaudière. Hale, who conducted himself as a good seigneur with his censitaires, did not hesitate to demand his due, and he had two attorneys working closely with him to manage affairs in his absence. He added to his already considerable fortune by acting as attorney or financial backer for certain tradesmen from Quebec and the region, among them William Bacheler Coltman*, George Waters Allsopp, John Cannon*, Chief Justice John Elmsley*’s widow, and the minister and managers of St Andrew’s Church.
From May 1805 till March 1812 Hale was colonel of the 3rd Battalion of the town’s militia. In 1813 he took on for some weeks the duties of treasurer of the Quebec office of the Loyal and Patriotic Society of the Province of Lower Canada, which had been founded to assist wounded militiamen. He was president of the Quebec Savings Bank from 1821 to 1823, and then vice-president from 1823 to 1826. He also served as vice-president of the Trois-Rivières agricultural society around 1823. Every winter Hale and his family would return from the manor-house of Sainte-Anne-De La Pérade to Quebec, where he and his wife joined in the social life of the capital. He belonged to the Literary and Historical Society of Quebec and the Quebec Emigrant Society in 1821–22, and was a trustee of the Musée Chasseur at Quebec in 1829 [see Pierre Chasseur].
His family’s reputation and his loyalty to the government combined to bring John Hale positions of trust which he filled honourably throughout his career.
ANQ-Q, CE1-61, 27 déc. 1838; CN1-26, 1801; CN1-49, 1818–38; CN1-116, 1836–38; CN1-208, 1830–38; CN1-230, 1800–25; CN1-256, 1799; CN1-262, 1805–19; P1000-48-931. PAC, MG 23, GII, 18. Docs. relating to constitutional hist., 1819–28 (Doughty and Story). Quebec Gazette, 30 May, 6 June 1805; 23 May 1811; 1 April 1813; 26 Dec. 1838. F.-J. Audet, “Les législateurs du Bas-Canada.” Cyclopædia of Canadian biog. (Rose and Charlesworth). Desjardins, Guide parl. Literary and Hist. Soc. of Quebec, Index of the lectures, papers and historical documents . . . , 1829 to 1891, comp. F. C. Würtele and J. C. Strachan (Quebec, 1927). Officers of British forces in Canada (Irving). “Papiers d’État – Bas-Canada,” PAC Rapport, 1891: 1–206; 1893: 1–123. Quebec almanac. P.-G. Roy, Inv. concessions. Turcotte, Le Conseil législatif. R. C. Dalton, The Jesuits’ estates question, 1760–1888: a study of the background for the agitation of 1889 (Toronto, 1968). “La famille Hale,” BRH, 38 (1932): 750–51.