HENEY, HUGUES, lawyer, militia officer, jp, politician, and office holder; b. 9 Sept. 1789 in Montreal, son of Hugue Heney, a merchant, and Thérèse Fortier; m. there 14 Oct. 1817 Marie-Léocadie Foucher, daughter of judge Louis-Charles Foucher, and they had seven children; d. 13 Jan. 1844 in Trois-Rivières, Lower Canada.
Hugues Heney did his classical studies at the Collège Saint-Raphaël in Montreal from 1798 till 1806. On completing them, he articled with Joseph Bédard, a Montreal lawyer, for five years. Called to the bar on 19 Dec. 1811, he entered the profession in Montreal and soon built up a large practice. In the War of 1812 he held the rank of lieutenant in the 2nd Militia Battalion of Montreal. On 16 Oct. 1813 he was transferred to Montreal’s 3rd Militia Battalion, of which he became adjutant. He served in this capacity for the rest of the war.
Heney was appointed justice of the peace for the district of Trois-Rivières on 8 July 1815 and for the district of Montreal on 21 May 1818. Two years later he was elected for Montreal East to the House of Assembly of Lower Canada. He represented this riding until 1832. A friend of Louis-Joseph Papineau*, he belonged to the Canadian party and shared in its struggles against the government of the province. At a protest meeting in Montreal on 7 Oct. 1822 he was named to a committee of 18 leading inhabitants of the town and its environs that was set up to fight a plan to unite Lower and Upper Canada [see Denis-Benjamin Viger*].
In 1827 Heney, along with Papineau and six other assemblymen, signed a declaration condemning the decision of Governor Lord Dalhousie [Ramsay] to prorogue the assembly and rejecting the accusations he had levelled against it. That year the governor had revoked the commissions of Heney and other militia officers who were friends of Papineau. Dalhousie’s successor, Sir James Kempt* was, however, to reinstate Heney, who later attained the rank of lieutenant-colonel. In February 1828 Heney, Papineau, and 15 others signed the instructions given by a Montreal committee to Denis-Benjamin Viger, John Neilson, and Austin Cuvillier, the three men delegated to go to England and lay the Canadians’ grievances about the political situation in Lower Canada before the British authorities. Heney was appointed commissioner for the building and repair of churches on 20 July 1830, and visitor of the schools in Champlain and Saint-Maurice counties on 18 June 1831.
In December 1831 Heney differed with Papineau and most of the Patriote assemblymen on a much discussed bill dealing with fabriques [see Louis Bourdages*]. He voted against the bill at the second reading and abstained from voting at the third reading. He resigned his seat on 28 Feb. 1832 and on 1 March was named clerk of the House of Assembly. On 26 July he became commissioner for the erection of new parishes and on 27 October commissioner for the subdivision of old ones. He was appointed grand voyer (chief road commissioner) for the district of Trois-Rivières on 7 December. In November the governor, Lord Aylmer [Whitworth-Aylmer], had offered Heney a seat on the Executive Council. Papineau had already refused this office and had asked the Patriotes to decline any similar offer. None the less Dominique Mondelet* accepted appointment that month, and for doing so he was considered a traitor by the members of the Patriote party. Heney in turn accepted Aylmer’s invitation, and on 28 Jan. 1833 he was named to the Executive Council.
In 1835 Heney indicated to John Neilson, a former Patriote who had been sent to England by Papineau’s opponents to convey the grievances of the British merchants and the moderate assemblymen, that he fully supported the mission. He added his opinion that “there are abuses . . . in all human institutions . . . that it is permissible to correct them and eliminate them using all decent and loyal means short of a call to sedition and revolt; that the house must be repaired and not overturned . . . that the elective principle, though good in itself, turns vicious indeed when it is exploited for purposes inspired by national hatreds, religious controversies, or other interested motives.” These remarks, meant as unfavourable allusions to the Patriote party, show how far Heney had by then moved from his former associates. On 5 Nov. 1836 he was appointed commissioner for the summary trial of small causes at Saint-François-du-Lac.
At the time of the 1837 rebellion Heney had a hand in preparing the Executive Council’s recommendations concerning the insurrection. On 21 Dec. 1837 he was also appointed commissioner for administering the oath of allegiance. His collaboration with the authorities caused him to be severely criticized by the Patriote leaders, who accused him of having repudiated all his former principles.
When the Act of Union came into force on 10 Feb. 1841, Heney lost his seat on the Executive Council. He was not appointed to the new one formed three days later by Governor Lord Sydenham [Thomson]. He lost his position as grand voyer that year when the office was abolished. In 1842, however, he was appointed commissioner to revise the statutes and ordinances of Lower Canada, along with Alexander Buchanan* and Gustavus William Wicksteed. They had not yet accomplished this task when Heney died, at the age of 54, in Trois-Rivières on 13 Jan. 1844.
Hugues Heney is the author of Commentaire ou observations sur l’acte de la 31e année du règne de George III, chap. 31, communément appelé Acte constitutionnel du Haut et du Bas-Canada (Montréal, 1832). The minutes Heney kept can be found in P.-G. Roy, Inventaire des procès-verbaux des grands voyers conservés aux Archives de la province de Québec (6v., Beauceville, Qué., 1923–32), 3: 224–38.
ANQ-M, CE1-51, 9 sept. 1789, 14 oct. 1817. ANQ-MBF, CE1-48, 17 janv. 1844. PAC, MG 24, B1, 6: 53; 8: 344; B2: 1339, 1538, 1586, 2857; MG 30, D1, 15: 409–23; RG 4, B8: 6753–61; RG 7, G1, 24: 644; 26: 19; 35: 279; RG 68, General index, 1651–1841; 1841–67. Docs. relating to constitutional hist., 1819–28 (Doughty and Story). L.C., House of Assembly, Journals, 1830–32. L’Aurore des Canadas, 16 janv. 1844. Le Canadien, 19 janv. 1844. Quebec Gazette, 9 Jan. 1812; 28 May 1818; 7 June 1819; 20 March, 20, 24 April, 3 July, 21 Aug., 11 Dec. 1820; 26 July 1821; 5 Dec. 1822; 2 April 1827. F.-J. Audet, Les députés de Montréal, 17, 92–94, 153; “Les législateurs du Bas-Canada.” F.-M. Bibaud, Le panthéon canadien (A. et V. Bibaud; 1891), 116–17. Desjardins, Guide parl. H. J. Morgan, Bibliotheca Canadensis. Officers of British forces in Canada (Irving). Quebec almanac, 1810–23. Tanguay, Dictionnaire, 4: 80. Wallace, Macmillan dict. Michel Bibaud, Histoire du Canada et des Canadiens, sous la domination anglaise [1760–1830] (Montréal, 1844; réimpr. East Ardsley, Angl., et New York, 1968), 235, 282. Chapais, Cours d’hist. du Canada, 3: 122–23; 4: 113–14. Maurault, Le collège de Montréal (Dansereau; 1967). Ouellet, Bas-Canada, 317, 321, 344, 404, 413. J.-E. Roy, L’ancien Barreau au Canada (Montréal, 1897), 77. Rumilly, Papineau et son temps, 1: 103, 113, 242, 244, 261. Les ursulines des Trois-Rivières depuis leur établissement jusqu’à nos jours (4v., Trois-Rivières, Qué., 1888–1911), 4: 73. F.-J. Audet, “En marge d’un centenaire: citoyen distingué, il rendit à son pays d’éminents services; c’est le souvenir qu’a laissé à ses concitoyens l’honorable Hugues Heney, jurisconsulte distingué,” La Presse, 16 sept. 1933: 30; “Grands-voyers du district de Trois-Rivières,” BRH, 10 (1904): 228. Gérard Malchelosse, “La famille Heney,” BRH, 49 (1943): 361–63. P.-G. Roy, “Les grands voyers de 1667 à 1842,” BRH, 37 (1931): 456; “Les grands voyers de la Nouvelle-France et leurs successeurs,” Cahiers des Dix, 8 (1943): 232–33.