Dedication to Fellow Thomas Heintzman

Former president Joe Matthews was one of the many hundreds in attendance at a Remembrance of our Fellow Tom Heintzman in Toronto, Sunday November 24th. Please see the dedication below. 

When Great Trees Fall[1]

One of the Academy’s Great Trees passed in November, shortly after his 78th birthday, and on November 24, the celebration of his life by family, colleagues and neighbors in Toronto filled Laidlaw Hall at Upper Canada College, the prep school “Tommie” Heintzman attended and later served as board member and benefactor. It was literally standing room only as several hundred people who were touched in life by our Fellow Thomas Giles Heintzman heard stories from his sons, his prep school and Harvard University friends, his colleagues at the bar and government leaders who valued his advice and friendship through the years. The Deputy Prime Minister of Canada was in the audience.

It was the kind of celebration IATL Fellows receive from local bars and communities and make us proud. It also reminds us how enriched we are by our Canadian and other International Fellows.

But this celebration was special too because it permitted a Fellow who knew Tom for the last twenty years of his life, primarily through the Academy, to learn what a special man he was and how much our Canadian Fellows can help us through these difficult times. Wonderful stories were told of Tom’s legendary bar service as past president of the Ontario and Canadian Bars, his love of family, music and nature and leadership of an old-line Toronto firm, McCarthy & McCarthy as it merged with an old line Montreal firm Clarkson Tétrault[2] and others to become the first truly Canadian national firm. His Quebecois partner’s humorous story of Tom and Mary Jane driving cross country in a van that bore the sign “My Canada Includes Quebec” as part of the effort to convince Quebec voters to remain in Canada, was one of those stories that are both international and local at the same time.

By far the most compelling story for our times and for our Academy, was told by his former Harvard hockey teammate and Governor General of Canada, who recounted the last time he spoke with Tom. The Right Honorable David Johnston had been on the panel responsible for the conduct of the final debate between the candidates for Prime Minister in the recent national election. Late the evening of the debate, Tom called David and told him the debate had been a disgrace and the organizers ought to be ashamed. The candidates were talking over each other and showed no respect for the process.  The laugh from the audience made it clear that many had received similar honest assessments from Tom over the years. The former Governor General agreed that the moderator should have turned off the microphone when either speaker violated the agreed rules of debate. Then Tom apologized. Again, laughter among the audience, the kind of laughter that insiders fully understand, but that still permits outsiders like an admirer from south of the border, to enjoy.  Then David brought a tear to most eyes in the hall by repeating Tom’s final words to a friend of 60 years – “I love you, David.”

Thomas Giles Heintzman was admitted as a Fellow of the International Academy of Trial Lawyers in 1997.  He is survived by his wife Mary Jane, two sons Tom and Andrew, daughters-in-law Martha McCall and Roz, grandchildren Molly, Theodore, Luke and Sloan, and his brother Ralph.

[1]  The Reverend Shawn Newton of the First Unitarian Congregation of Toronto opened the celebration of Tom Heintzman’s life reading the Maya Angelou poem. 

[2]  McCarthy Tétrault was created through the merger of several firms: McCarthy & McCarthy of Toronto, Clarkson Tétrault of Montreal, Shrum Liddle & Hebenton of Vancouver, and Black & Company of Calgary. This merger was initially denied by the Law Society of Alberta, which enacted rules designed to stop it. The rules prohibited members from entering into a partnership with anyone who was not a resident of Alberta, and prohibited members from being partners of more than one firm. This rule was challenged as being contrary to the mobility rights protected by the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. In the resulting court case, Black v. Law Society of Alberta, the Supreme Court of Canada struck down the rules. The subsequent merger made McCarthy Tétrault Canada's first national law firm. (Wikipedia)