Dan Heap

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Dan Heap
Member of Parliament
for Trinity—Spadina
In office
Preceded by Riding established
Succeeded by Tony Ianno
Member of Parliament
for Spadina
In office
Preceded by Peter Stollery
Succeeded by Riding abolished
Alderman, Toronto City Council
In office
Preceded by Horace Brown
Succeeded by John Sewell
Metropolitan Toronto Councillor
In office
Preceded by William Archer
Succeeded by Allan Sparrow
Personal details
Born Daniel James Macdonnell Heap
(1925-09-24)September 24, 1925
Winnipeg, Manitoba
Died April 25, 2014(2014-04-25) (aged 88)
Toronto, Ontario
Political party New Democratic Party
Spouse(s) Alice Boomhour
(m. 1950–2012, her death)
Children 7
Profession Priest, labourer
Religion Anglican

Daniel James Macdonnell "Dan" (or "Don") Heap (September 24, 1925 – April 25, 2014) was a Canadian Member of Parliament with the New Democratic Party, a Toronto City Councillor, a political activist and an Anglican worker-priest. He represented the Toronto, Ontario, Canada riding of Spadina (after 1988 Trinity—Spadina) from 1981 to 1993 and Ward 6 on Toronto City Council from 1972 to 1981. As an activist he was involved in the peace movement, community issues around housing, homelessness, poverty and refugee rights among other social justice issues.


Heap was born in Winnipeg, Manitoba into a middle-class Winnipeg family, the second of four children. His father, Fred Heap, was a lawyer and his mother was a piano teacher.[1] Heap's maternal grandfather was a Presbyterian minister inspiring Heap, from a young age, to want to take up the same calling.[1]

Heap was raised a Presbyterian in a family that was concerned about social causes. When he was 6, the family decided to boycott Japanese oranges to protest the Japanese invasion of Manchuria.[1]

For his last two years of highschool, Heap attended Upper Canada College on a scholarship, and then studied classics and philosophy at Queen's University.[1]

A pacifist, Heap nevertheless joined the Canadian Army during World War II due to his opposition to Nazism, later saying "It wasn’t possible to be neutral in the face of Hitler". However, the war ended before he could be sent overseas.[1]

In 1945, while working in a factory as a summer job, he met members of the Student Christian Movement and became a Christian Socialist. He later also became a member of the Society of the Catholic Commonwealth and of the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation,[2] forerunner of the New Democratic Party.

Heap studied theology at the University of Chicago for a year before becoming an Anglican and transferring to McGill University to pursue a divinity degree.[1] While at McGill he became engaged to Alice Boomhour, a pacifist, activist in the SCM and CCF, and daughter of a United Church minister. They married in 1950.[3] That same year, he was ordained a priest within the Anglican Church of Canada.[2]

After working as a parish priest in Quebec for only a few years in the 1950s, Heap decided against a career as a church employee and aligned himself with the Worker-Priest movement which paired ministry with social activism.[1] Heap moved his family to Toronto where he worked for 18 years as a labourer (pressman) in a cardboard box factory in Toronto, where he became involved in the paperworker's union (now the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union of Canada) and was elected a union representative[1] and attempted to “bring socialism to the Canadian worker”.[2]

He and Alice raised seven children, including son Danny Heap, a computer science lecturer at the University of Toronto.[4]

In 1965, Heap marched with Martin Luther King, Jr. on his Selma to Montgomery marches while the rest of his family participated in a solidarity sit-in in Toronto.[1] The family also opened their home to Americans resisting the Vietnam War, youth involved with the SCM and other activists.[1]


Heap entered politics and campaigned on a platform to oppose poverty, war and homelessness. He ran as the New Democratic Party's candidate in Spadina in the 1968 federal election placing second in a campaign where he described himself as a "worker priest". He also ran in the 1971 provincial election against Allan Grossman in the riding of St. Andrew—St. Patrick, losing by 1137 votes.[5] His first success in politics came when he was elected in the 1972 municipal election as the junior Alderman for Ward 6.[6] As well as serving on Toronto City Council from 1972 to 1981, he also represented Ward 6 on Metro Toronto Council from 1974 to 1978. When the Liberal Member of Parliament for Spadina, Peter Stollery, was appointed to the Senate in 1981, Heap decided to run in the subsequent by-election. Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau had recommended Stollery for appointment to the Senate in order to open the "safe Liberal riding" for his aide Jim Coutts. Heap defeated Coutts in the by-election, however, and was re-elected in the 1984 and 1988 elections. He retired at the 1993 federal election.

Heap was an outspoken MP, and campaigned against poverty, homelessness, and war.[7] Upon being elected to parliament, he said his three priorities were world peace, worker control of the economy, and an end to social injustice.[8] He served as NDP critic on immigration, served on the member of the House of Commons Standing Committee on Labour, Employment and Immigration,[9] and was a prominent spokesperson for social justice issues both in Canada and abroad. He was very concerned with issues such as refugees, the situations in Central America, East Timor, and South Africa.[10] Heap hired a young Olivia Chow as his constituency office assistant.[11]

Later life[edit]

Despite retiring from politics, Heap remained involved as an activist, strongly backing the anti-war movement, and supporting NDP candidates in the region. He also remained involved at the downtown Church of the Holy Trinity and social justice issues within the Anglican Church of Canada. In retirement, he preferred to go by the name "Don Heap", which he used before entering electoral politics in 1968. In the late 1980s, he and his wife Alice sold their family home in Toronto's Kensington Market area at a fraction of the market price to the Homes First Society, a community organization which provides housing for refugees.[2][7] The house had been a nexus for meetings and organizing among student activists around the anti-war, anti-apartheid and social housing movements from the 1960s to the 1980s with as many as a dozen young people staying with the Heap family at one time.[3]

In his late seventies and early eighties he remained involved in various issues such as refugee rights. Heap co-founded the Toronto Disaster Relief Committee to campaign on the issue of homelessness.[2][12]

Heap suffered a heart attack in 2005 and was also diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease in 2006. In 2011, he and his wife faced eviction from their retirement home as they awaited admission to a long-term care facility, for which they had been on a waiting list for five years. In October 2011, Heap was admitted to the Kensington Gardens facility and his wife Alice got a spot there later that month.[2] Alice Heap, his wife of 61 years, died due to complications from pneumonia on March 24, 2012 at the age of 86.[3][13]

Heap died on April 25, 2014.[14][7] One of his sons posted a message remembering him as an "advocate of the homeless, for refugees and for peace [among other causes]" and also as a "Pacifist, socialist, worker-priest, marxist Anglican, trade-unionist, city councillor, member of parliament, civilly disobedient marcher for human rights. Wearer of red shirts, cyclist, paddler of canoes, singer of songs."[10]


A sole support mother that Heap helped get childcare in the 1980s, later taught nursing at George Brown College. In 2013, Nadira Fraser established the “Dan and Alice Heap Bursary” to aid single parents to qualify for nursing.[7]

Electoral history[edit]


Canadian federal election, 1968
Party Candidate Votes
     Liberal Perry Ryan 9,379
     New Democratic Party Dan Heap 3,943
     Progressive Conservative Victor Bagnato 3,353

St. Andrew—St. Patrick[edit]

Ontario general election, 1971
Party Candidate Votes[15] Vote %
    Conservative Allan Grossman 8,256 45.8
    New Democrat Dan Heap 7,536 41.8
    Liberal Elizabeth Catty 1,645 9.1
    Independent Istvan Kovacs 239 1.3
    Communist Elizabeth Hill 214 1.2
    Social Credit John Bilan 147 0.8
Total 18,037

Toronto City Council (Ward 6)[edit]


Ward 6 (Financial District, Toronto - University of Toronto)
x-William Archer - 7,395
x-Dan Heap (reform) - 7,153
June Marks (incumbent) - 6,396
Horace Brown (incumbent) - 2,928
Arthur Downes - 2,127


Ward 6 (Financial District, Toronto - University of Toronto)
x-Dan Heap (incumbent)
x-Allan Sparrow
William Archer (incumbent)
K Dock Yip
John Comos
Arthur Downes
Fred Nelson


Ward 6 (Financial District, Toronto - University of Toronto)
x-Dan Heap (incumbent) - 8,503
x-Allan Sparrow (incumbent) - 8,103
Peter Budd - 4,448
Arnold Linelsky - 2,046


Ward 6 (Financial District, Toronto - University of Toronto)
x-Allan Sparrow (incumbent) - 8,029
x-Dan Heap (incumbent) - 7,514
Dan Richards - 6,421
Rose Smith - 2,785
Joe Martin - 1,143


Ward 6 (Financial District, Toronto - University of Toronto)
x-Gordon Chong - 9,522
x-Dan Heap (incumbent) - 9,341
George Hislop - 7,348
Rose Smith - 2,959
Fred Chappell - 1,339
Darryl Randall - 659
Gary Weagle - 505


Federal by-election after Stollery was appointed to the Senate, 17 August 1981
Party Candidate Votes
     New Democratic Party Dan Heap 7,586
     Liberal Jim Coutts 7,372
     Progressive Conservative Laura Sabia 6,581
Rhinoceros Decriminalized Douglas 233
     Libertarian Robert Champlin 162
     Independent Anne McBride 84
     Independent John Turmel 69
     Independent Ronald Rodgers 41
Canadian federal election, 1984
Party Candidate Votes
     New Democratic Party Dan Heap 13,241
     Liberal Jim Coutts 11,880
     Progressive Conservative Ying Hope 8,061
     Libertarian William E. Burt 358
Rhinoceros Mara Maria Proussaefs 289
     Independent Sam Guha 98


Canadian federal election, 1988
Party Candidate Votes %
New Democratic Dan Heap 15,565 38.55
Liberal Tony Ianno 15,082 37.35
Progressive Conservative Joe Pimentel 8,618 21.34
Libertarian Paul Barker 494 1.22
Rhinoceros John Douglas 444 1.10
Independent Sukhdev S. Grewal 127 0.31
Independent Charles Shrybman 49 0.12
Total valid votes 40,379 100.00


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j "Lifelong socialist was a champion for the marginalized". Globe and Mail. May 15, 2014. Retrieved May 16, 2014. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f Monsebraaten, Louise (October 15, 2011). "He was a titan of Toronto social justice. Now he's sick and needs a home". Toronto Star. Retrieved October 15, 2011. 
  3. ^ a b c Monsebraaten, Laurie (March 25, 2012). "Activist Alice Heap lived final days in peace". Toronto Star. Retrieved March 26, 2012. 
  4. ^ Monsebraaten, Laurie (October 22, 2011). "Former MP Dan Heap has settled into a new home but without wife Alice". Toronto Star. 
  5. ^ "Riding by riding returns in the provincial election". The Globe and Mail. October 23, 1971. p. 10. 
  6. ^ "4 city aldermen lose their seats". The Globe and Mail. December 5, 1972. p. 1. 
  7. ^ a b c d "Dan Heap, former NDP MP and social justice activist, dead at 88". Toronto Star. April 26, 2014. Retrieved April 26, 2014. 
  8. ^ "Stephen Lewis commentary". see YouTube: CityPulse at 6 - Aug 18th, 1981 (CityPulse at 6). August 18, 1981. 
  9. ^ "Dan Heap, 1925-". Library and Archives Canada. March 19, 2008. Retrieved April 27, 2014. 
  10. ^ a b "Dan Heap, former Toronto NDP MP, dead at 88". CBC News. April 26, 2014. Retrieved April 26, 2014. 
  11. ^ "Can Olivia Chow be Toronto's next mayor?". Globe and Mail. March 28, 2014. Retrieved April 26, 2014. 
  12. ^ "Homeless activists demand Pitfield resign from committee". Etobicoke Guardian. May 16, 2006. 
  13. ^ Casey, Liam (March 24, 2012). "Toronto social justice crusader Alice Heap dies". Toronto Star. Retrieved March 25, 2012. 
  14. ^ "Former NDP MP, social justice advocate Dan Heap dies at 88". April 26, 2014. 
  15. ^ Canadian Press (1971-10-22). "Here's who won on the Metro ridings". The Toronto Daily Star (Toronto). p. 12. 

External links[edit]