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Halifax hero who fought in Canada

John Hebden and his memorial at Lister Lane Cemetery, Halifax

John Hebden and his memorial at Lister Lane Cemetery, Halifax

A fascinating portrait has come to light in Canada of one of the remarkable people who lie buried in Lister Lane Cemetery, Halifax.

The picture below, left shows gallant army officer John Hebden, of Halifax, in his uniform as adjutant of the Canadian Voltigeurs, a military unit which helped repel an American attempt to capture Montréal during the war of 1812.”

Hebden was born in 1779. His early career was as a cloth dresser; he married at Halifax Parish Church in June 1799.

Having served with the local volunteers, Hebden joined the Tay Fencibles in Ulster in 1799, serving initially as a drummer. Transferred to Scotland, John was discharged in 1802 and in 1804 joined the 1st battalion of the 8th Regiment of Foot and saw service in Ireland.

In 1808 the regiment embarked for Canada, where Hebden served for some years, transferring to the West Indies, where he took part in the invasion of Martinique in 1809.

Back in Canada, in November 1812 he was commissioned adjutant in the Voltigeurs, a light infantry militia unit of mainly French Canadians.

Hebden was mentioned in dispatches for bravery at the almost forgotten Battle of Chateauguay in October 1813, when 400 Voltigeurs and units of Fencibles and 170 Mohawk Indians faced an American force of 4,000 men under General Wade Hampton, which was threatening Montreal. The Americans were routed, a signal victory which helped save Lower Canada for the British Crown.

John returned to Halifax from time to time and died here on Boxing Day 1852. His grave at Lister Lane also contains the remains of his son, Francis Hebden, a Northgate watchmaker, and his wife and their children.

nBy David Glover, chairman of the Friends of Lister Lane Cemetery.

 

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