HEATH, JOHN, Patriote, notary, and registrar; b. c. 1808 in Ireland, son of a regimental captain William Heath and Elizabeth Allen, originally from London, Eng.; d. 16 Nov. 1874 at L’Isle-Verte, Que.
John Heath arrived in Canada when he was still young. A family named Bâcon, probably that of François Bâcon of Quebec, took him in and gave him an education which enabled him to acquire a notary’s commission on 17 Nov. 1834. John Heath followed his profession successively at Saint-Charles, county of Saint-Hyacinthe, from 1834 to 1836, at Quebec from 1838 to 1842, at Saint-Germain-de-Rimouski from 1842 to 1849, then at L’Isle-Verte from 1852 until his death. But his registry contains no acts from September 1836 to February 1838 and from November 1838 to the end of August 1840.
For these last four years, John Heath abandoned the profession of notary in order to support the cause of the Quebec Patriotes. He won renown in an unusual way in October 1838, when he engineered the escape from the Quebec citadel of the Americans William W. Dodge and Edward Alexander Theller*, who had been condemned to be hanged for taking part in the Upper Canada insurrection. The fugitives hid for some weeks in the city of Quebec, thanks to Charles Drolet’s assistance; then Jean-Baptiste Carrier and John Heath undertook to conduct them across the American border. In the night of 4–5 November the travellers, taking circuitous routes, reached Saint-François-de-la-Beauce (Beauceville). After a rest, they managed to get past three sentinels’ posts without attracting attention, and to reach the border. John Heath had the police at his heels when he got back to Canada and stayed in the woods at some distance from Quebec City.
The proclamation of the amnesty allowed him to take up his profession again. He then settled at Saint-Germain-de-Rimouski, where on 11 July 1842 he married Émilie Reeves; they had two children, one being James William Adhémar who also became a notary. John Heath ended his career at L’Isle-Verte, after receiving a commission as registrar for the county of Rimouski in August 1849. When the county of Témiscouata, formed from part of the county of Rimouski, was set up in 1853, John Heath was assigned to it as registrar.
AQ, John Heath; QBC, Procureur général, Événements de 1837–1838, nos.3363, 4136; P.-G. Roy, Dossiers de recherche, Heath. Le Monde illustré (Montréal), 19 févr., 12 mars 1898. La Quotidienne (Montréal), 28 oct. 1838. P.-G. Roy, “L’évasion de Dodge et Theller de la citadelle de Québec,” Cahiers des Dix, V (1940), 121–44.