HEARTZ, RICHARD JACOB, businessman and politician; b. 11 June 1816 in North River, P.E.I., son of John Martin Heartz and Ann Margaret Dawson; m. 2 March 1841 Jane Howard, and they had three sons and three daughters; d. 15 July 1908 in Charlottetown.
Richard Heartz was born into a well-established Island family. His paternal grandfather was a loyalist of German background who had immigrated to New York and had subsequently been granted 500 acres on the Yorke (North) River; his mother was the daughter of an Irish-born militia officer who had acquired a similar holding.
After receiving no more than a basic formal education, Heartz moved to Charlottetown in 1832 to train as a tanner and currier in the business of his uncle Thomas Dawson. By 1838 he had opened his own firm as a tanner and general merchant. During the next 20 years he steadily increased this enterprise. When he sold his tanning interests in 1858 to concentrate on private banking, he was described by an R. G. Dun and Company reporter as a “middle aged man doing a good business, of good character and fair business habits, worth £9 or 10,000.” In 1865, in partnership with his son Benjamin, he formed a dry-goods business, Heartz and Son, from which he withdrew briefly in 1869–70. It is not known when the partnership ended. Heartz would continue his interest in the business affairs of his son and grandson Frank Richard Heartz for the rest of his life. He was also a director of the Charlottetown Gas Light Company and the Charlottetown Mutual Fire Insurance Company. In his latter years he manifested some interest in agriculture, through his involvement with the Heartz Farm, a showcase dairy and stock operation just outside Charlottetown.
Heartz’s commercial activity appears to have been secondary to his interest in banking. He became involved in finance at a time when the absence of local banks was contributing to the retardation of Island commerce. Private sources of capital were often required by merchants short of funds. Though some independent moneylenders were reportedly severe in their dealings, Heartz had a reputation for fairness. He was an original director of the Bank of Prince Edward Island, founded in 1856, and he sat on its board until its cessation of business in 1881. He retired from banking in 1900. Even though he did not reach the first rank of the city’s business élite, he helped mobilize local financial resources into a community-based banking system, which briefly flourished but succumbed to outside competition, inadequate management, and a faltering economy.
Beyond his business interests, Heartz was deeply involved in community affairs. He was a member of a volunteer fire-engine company as early as 1841, when such activity signified considerable local standing. He became a trustee of the Methodist Society of Prince Edward Island in 1858 and held that position for half a century. A leading member of the Wesleyan congregation in Charlottetown, he played a major role in the erection of a new chapel (later called First Methodist Church and now Trinity United Church), which opened in 1864. When Charlottetown became a city in 1855, Heartz was elected a councillor; he would serve for 17 years between then and 1878, largely years in which municipal service attracted little attention or recognition. In all of his activities, he does not seem to have been characterized by any pronounced traits or opinions beyond a willingness to contribute his time, and on occasion his money, to the well-being of his neighbours.
Richard Heartz lived in a community which was substantial by 19th-century standards but which provided few opportunities for personal or civic flamboyance. He was a notable representative of the group that formed Charlottetown’s economic and social backbone and oversaw the integration of the city into the broader mainstream of national life.
Useful entries on Heartz and his associates appear in the Atlantic Canada Newspaper Survey database, available online through the Canadian Heritage Information Network administered by Communications Canada (Ottawa).
Baker Library, R. G. Dun & Co. credit ledger, Canada, 9: 337, 402, 421. PARO, Acc. 2874/11; Acc. 3043/188–89; Acc. 3466/HF.78.210.4; HF.83.70.13; RG 19, marriage licence reg., 1832–43; RG 20, 1–6. P.E.I. Museum, Geneal. Div. files. St Paul’s Anglican Church (Charlottetown), RBMB (mfm. at PARO, Acc. 3069A/2). Trinity United Church (Charlottetown), RBMB (mfm. at PARO, Acc. 3297A/7, 10–11). Daily Patriot (Charlottetown), 15, 17 July 1908. D. [O.] Baldwin, “The Charlottetown political elite: control from elsewhere,” Gaslights, epidemics and vagabond cows: Charlottetown in the Victorian era, ed. D. [O.] Baldwin and Thomas Spira (Charlottetown, 1988), 32–50; “The growth and decline of the Charlottetown banks, 1854–1906,” Acadiensis (Fredericton), 15 (1985–86), no.2: 28–52. Charlottetown, Annual report, 1877–1908 (copies at PARO). Past and present of P.E.I. (MacKinnon and Warburton), 664–65. I. L. Rogers, Charlottetown: the life in its buildings (Charlottetown, 1983). Henry Smith, “Methodism in Charlottetown – second paper,” Prince Edward Island Magazine (Charlottetown), 5 (1903–1): 106.