Aurore!  The Mystery of the Martyred Child

About this source

Translated document

Skip to page: 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8

COURT OF KING'S BENCH. ) Sitting in Quebec City on April 24, 1920.

PRESENT: The Honourable Judge Desy.



TELESPHORE GAGNON. On the charge of murder.


EMILIEN HAMEL of St. Jean Deschaillons, residing with his parents, 16 years of age, nephew of the accused, who, being sworm on the Holy Gospels, doth depose and say:

EXAMINED BY Maître Lachance on behalf of the accused.

Q. You are Émilien Hamel and you reside in which Parish?

A. In St. Jean Deschaillons.

Q. How old are you today?

A. Sixteen.

Q. And you live with your parents?

A. Yes, Monsieur.

Q. Do you know Telesphore Gagnon?

A. Yes, Monsieur.

Q. Is he related to you?

A. He is my uncle, Monsieur.

Q. Do you remember having been at his place last year, in nineteen hundred and nineteen?

A. Yes, Monsieur.

Q. Do you recall in what month you were there?

A. At the end of March.

Q. Were you there for long?

A. I was there about fifteen days.

Q. About fifteen days?

A. Yes, Monsieur.

Q. And what did you do?

A. I was working in the woods.

Q. Was Aurore Gagnon at home during the time that you worked for your uncle, during those fifteen days?

A. Yes, Monsieur.

- 2 -

Q. Were there other children in the house, besides Aurore, at that time?

A. Yes, Monsieur. Her little sister was there.

Q. Was Marie Jeanne there at that time, in the month of March?

A.Yes, Monsieur.

Q. Now, who did you work with, in the woods?

A. With Monsieur Gagnon himself.

Q. Were these woods on his land or away from his land?

A. They were his woods, on his land.

Q. When he goes to cut wood, does he cut it on his own land?

A. We were working for Monsieur Bernard---he was the one he worked for----we always did it for him.

Q. But who did Telesphore Gagnon work for?

A. For Monsieur Bernard.

Q. Now, did you have knowledge of Aurore being beaten in the house or outside the house---did you have knowledge of this, during the fifteen days that you were there?

A. Yes, Monsieur.

Q. Did you know who it was who beat her?

A. Him, he's the one who beat her, and she's the one who told him to, because she didn't wash her dishes. She said: "Give her a thrashing; she didn't listen."

Q. (By the Court) Who is this "she"?

A. His wife.

Q. So what did your uncle Gagnon do?

A. He beat her.

Q. With what?

A. A small switch.

Q. Where did he find this switch?

A. He had cut it from in front of their house.

Q. He had cut it from in front of their house?

A. Yes.

- 3 -

Q. Where did he beat her with the switch, on what part of her body?

A. He beat her on the legs.

Q. How did he strike her; was it hard or lightly?

A. He struck her the same as…he struck her hard.

Q. Do you remember how many times he struck her?

A. He struck her perhaps about ten times.

Q. Do you know whether he beat her on other occasions?

A. Yes, Monsieur, on two other occasions.

Q. Now, with what did he beat her, the two other times?

A. Always with that small switch.

Q. Always with that small switch?

A. Yes, when I was there.

Q. Where did he keep the small switch?

A. He would put it away. There were nails on the cupboard, and he would store it there.

Q. (By the Court) There are switches in front of you. Do you see that switch amongst those before the Court?

A. No, Monsieur. I don't see it.

Q. The white switch?

A. I didn't see that one.

Q. That is not the one, Exhibit P-4?

A. No, I didn't see that one either.

Q. (By the Court) What was it like this other switch, as compared to this one, as compared to the switches that are being shown to you?

A. The other switch was smaller than that.

Q. What did Aurore do when she was beaten like this?

A. She would cry.

Q. What would Gagnon say while he was beating her like this?

A. Well, he didn't say anything.

- 4 -

Q. On the other two occasions that he beat her, where did he beat her, on what part of her body did he beat her like that, with the switch?

A. He always beat her on the legs only.

Q. Do you know whether your aunt also beat Aurore in front of Monsieur Gagnon?

A. Yes.

Q. How many times did you see the woman beat Aurore in front of her husband?

Objection to the question by Maître Lavergne on behalf of the accused, on the grounds that it is leading and, as such, inadmissible.

Objection sustained.

Q. Did anyone other than your uncle beat Aurore in front of you--were there others?

A. Well…

Q. Besides your uncle, did anyone beat Aurore?

A. No.----there was his wife.

Q. Did she beat her many times like this, in front of Telesphore Gagnon?

A. She beat her once with the small switch.

Q. Did she beat her with the same switch or with another?

A. The same switch.

Q. Now, while you were there, were you aware of whether the woman beat her --- other than that time she beat her in front of her husband---were you aware of whether she beat her otherwise?

A. She beat her, the little girl, because she was hauling wood into the bin under the stairs.

Objection by Maître Lavergne to the question, on behalf of the accused, on the grounds that it is inconsistent with the bill of indictment.

The Court allows the question.

Q. Let's not talk about the time the woman beat Aurore in front of her husband. Let's talk about something else at this time.

A. That's all that I know.

- 5 -

Q. Can you tell us how the woman treated Aurore in front of you?

Objection by Maître Lavergne, on behalf of the accused, to this question as irrelevant and as inconsistent with the bill of indictment.

The Court allows the question.

A. Once, she wouldn't…once she wouldn't allow her to eat at the table. As for him, he told her to come to the table to eat.

Q. Now, while you were there, how did Aurore behave?

A. Very well, Monsieur.

Q. She behaved very well?

A. Yes, Monsieur.

CROSS-EXAMINED BY Maître Francoeur on behalf of the Accused.

Q. You were there fifteen days?

A. Yes, Monsieur, about fifteen days.

Q. During the fifteen days you were there, your uncle, the accused, beat her three times?

A. Yes, Monsieur.

Q. With a switch smaller than the ones you were shown earlier?

A. Yes.

Q. Smaller than all of those ones?

A. Yes, smaller.

Q. Now, you worked with him in the woods?

A. Yes, Monsieur.

Q. All day?

A. Sometimes we would stay home; he would work in the woods and I would stay at home.

Q. Once, you say, he beat her because she didn't want to do the dishes?

A. Because his wife told him so.

Q. He wasn't there?

A. No.

- 6 -

Q. This was when you arrived?

A. Yes, Monsieur.

Q. It was when you returned from the woods that your uncle's wife told him this, wasn't it?

A. Yes, yes.

Q. Isn't it true that she said something else about Aurore's behaviour?

A. I know that she told him: "Beat her; she never listens. She still hasn't washed her dishes." He asked Aurore if she was going to listen. She said that she would.

Q. Was that before or after he punished her?

A. It was after.

Q. The two other times that he punished her in front of you, why was that?

A. It was for the same thing, again.

Q. Upon your return from the woods, his wife again told him that she hadn't listened?

A. Yes, yes, Monsieur.

Q. Again, for the dishes?

A. Yes, Monsieur.

Q. Did he hit her hard with that?

A. Quite hard.

Q. Did he hit her the same way that parents in the country beat their children?

A. Yes, Monsieur, the same way.

Q. (By the Court) Have you often seen fathers hit their children with switches like the one your uncle had in his hands?

A. Yes, Monsieur.

Q. (By the Court) Many times?

A. Yes.

Q. (By the Court) Is that customary there?

A. ………..

Q. And you also saw the mother beat her once?

A. Yes, Monsieur.

- 7 -

Q. For the same reason?

A. Yes.

Q. On account of the dishes again?

A. Yes.

Q. Did Aurore not want to wash the dishes, on that occasion?

A. Well…I think not; I think that she didn't want to wash them.

Q. You weren't there, yourself?

A. No, I wasn't there.

Q. You don't know if she wanted to wash them?

A. The dishes still hadn't been washed.

Q. But it was the mother who said that the child had not wanted to wash them?

A. Yes.

Q. During the preliminary investigation, when you gave testimony downstairs, you said that your uncle had punished Aurore in front of you once---Didn't you remember this, at that time?

A. No, Monsieur, I didn't remember it.

Q. You remember it better now?

A. Yes, Monsieur.

Q. You were asked this downstairs----by the Crown, I should say-----on Page 53. "When I was there, I saw that she had beaten her because she hadn't washed her dishes. Q. Did she beat her often? A. Ah, no. Q. How many times? A. She beat her once in front of me. Q. At other times, did you hear her beat her? A. No, Monsieur. Q. You saw her beat her only once? A. Yes, Monsieur. Q. Did anyone else beat her? A. Yes. Q. Who was that? A. Her. Q. What did she beat her with? How? A. With a switch. Q. A big switch or a small switch? A. A small switch. Q. Did she beat her for a long time? A. No, not for long. Q. For how long---how many times did she strike her?

- 8 -

A. I didn't count them. Q. Was the child struggling, was she crying? A. She wasn't struggling. She was crying. Q. Do you think she was right to beat her? A. Well, she hadn't washed her dishes. It seems to me she was right. A……

RE-EXAMINED BY Maître Lachance on behalf of the Crown.

Q. Did Gagnon himself talk to you about Aurore? Did he tell you what she was like?

A. No, Monsieur.

Q. Did he talk to you about her character?

A. No, Monsieur.

Objection by Maître Lavergne, on behalf of the accused, that the Crown is presenting its case again in re-examination.

Objection sustained by the Court

And further deponent saith not.

The Court adjourns until the following Monday, April twenty-sixth, nineteen hundred and twenty, at ten o'clock in the morning.

Source: ANQ, TP 999, 1960-01-362\3, 1B 014 01-04-004B-01, Cour du banc du roi, assises criminelles, district de Québec, Déposition de Emilien Hamel, procès de Télesphore Gagnon pour meutre, April 24, 1920, 8.

Return to parent page

Great Unsolved Mysteries in Canadian History