Aurore!  The Mystery of the Martyred Child
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ODILON AUGER, Ste. Philomène, farmer, aged 36 years.


Q. Did you have the opportunity to work last year with the accused, Télesphore Gagnon?

A. Yes.

Q. During what time of the year was that?

A. In August.

Q. Where were you working? At his home or elsewhere?

A. At Eugène Poisson's place.

Q. So, between you and him, was there mention of his children?

A. Yes.

Q. Of whom? Of which child?

A. Of the late Aurore Gagnon.

Q. What did he tell you?

A. He told me that the child was very difficult to discipline.

Q. After that, did he say what he had done to discipline her?

A. Yes.

Q. What had he done?

A. He said that he had beaten her with a whip.

Q. What sort of whip?

A. A horsewhip.

Q. How had he beaten her? To what extent?

A. He beat her to the point of leaving marks on her.

Q. Did he add anything else to indicate to what extent he had beaten her?

A. Yes, he said that he had even made her bleed.

Q. What did you say at that point?

A. I told him that he shouldn't... whether he hadn't tried to discipline her another way -- whether he had tried to handle her gently. He told me he had.

Q. Now, later, between you and him, was there again mention of this child? Of Aurore?

A. Yes.

Q. When?

A. In January, I believe.

Q. What did he tell you?

A. .....He told me that.....that the child was very tough, that

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he didn't want to beat her anymore, that it didn't do any good.

Q. Did you have the opportunity to go there during that time -- to Gagnon's own place -- to see Aurore?

A. Yes.

Q. I'm talking about during January. How was Aurore? Did you notice anything about her when you went there, when you saw her?

A. Yes, her entire face was blue. The upper part of her face was swollen.

Q. Now, were you working with Gagnon the day the child died?

A. Yes.

Q. Where?

A. In the Seigneury of Lotbinière....the Seigneury of Lotbinière.

Q. Who were you working for there? For Gagnon or for other people?

A. We were in business together.

Q. You were in business together?

A. For ourselves.

Q. Were you there when the news about Aurore was communicated to Gagnon that day?

A. Yes.

Q. Who was it that went there to inform you?

A. Monsieur Alphonse Chandonnet.

Q. So tell us what was said -- what Gagnon said in front of you -- what happened there at that moment?

Objection to this evidence from Maître Lavergne, K. C., Counsel for the Defence, as being hearsay and as not being the best evidence because the conversation that the witness will report was held by a man named Chandonnet and it is the Chandonnet in question who should come to testify regarding the words he had with the accused and not someone who heard them in the presence of the prisoner. Objection rejected.

Q. (Question reread) Monsieur Gagnon asked what was the matter at home? Monsieur Chandonnet answered that he had come

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to get him, that his little girl was dying and then he asked him if the Parish priest had been to see her.


Q. Who asked?

A. Telesphore Gagnon. He answered that he had -- as well as the Doctor and the Justice of the Peace.


Q. So, what did Gagnon say at that point? What did he say about the little girl?

A. BY THE COURT: Relate the entire conversation. Continue. Answer?

A. That's all that I heard. He left -- he and Chandonnet -- to go down, and I stayed there to go down with the work wagon. They left.


Q. Did you observe anything yourself -- when Chandonnet arrived before the accused, at any rate?

A. When he...... When he heard Chandonnet shouting, we didn't know whom he was coming for, so I said, "If it's not for you, it's for me. There's something strange going on."

Q. Then what?

A. He said that it might be that one of his cousins was sick.

Q. And then what?

A. I answered that it shouldn't be that because they knew we went down every evening.

Q. Then what?

A. I said, "It wouldn't be your little girl instead?" He answered that it shouldn't be because he had seen her come downstairs that morning and she seemed the same as usual.

Q. Now, did you speak -- did you have a conversation with Gagnon subsequent to that -- at that time or before -- about the way to discipline children.

A. Yes.

Q. So, what was said then?

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A. Before -- in August -- he told me that .....being in the act of reprimanding her -- that he believed he had no choice but to punish her, even to the point of breaking a limb if she didn't want to correct herself, because he believed that it was his duty, that he was assuming his responsibility towards his children by punishing them. He didn't want to be thrown out by his children.


Q. During this conversation that you have just reported, you were talking about the punishments a father could give his children, weren't you?

A. ....Yes.

Q. And the accused told you that, according to him, Aurore was difficult to bring up?

A. Yes.

Q. Did he tell you the faults he believed she had?

A. Yes.

Q. What was it that he told you?

A. He told me that she behaved as badly as a child could and had all the faults a child could have.

Q. Did he name a few?

A. Yes.

Q. Tell us?

A. He said that she was a thief, that she was impure.

Q. What else?

A. A real bitch.

Q. When he told you that a father could punish his child to the point of breaking a limb, did he allude to what is taught -- that it is better to save your child's soul, to the detriment of their limbs, than to let them damn themselves?

A. No.

Q. He didn't speak to you about that?

A. .....

Q. You don't remember that?

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A. I don't remember that.

Q. Do you think it was a question of that?

A. I wouldn't be able to say.

Q. Did he not tell you that preachers said that from the pulpit?

A. Yes.

Q. He spoke to you about that?

BY THE COURT: Did you reply that the accused had told you that?

A. He told me that he believed he had no choice, because he believed in the responsibility he had to bring up his children.


Q. Did he not tell you, Monsieur Auger -- in reminding you -- that it was taught, that the Fathers who preach say that, if necessary, one had to be strict with children?

A. I don't remember that.

Q. You don't remember?

A. ....

Q. It is possible that he told you that and that you don't remember?

A. I don't remember.

Q. Did he appear discouraged with the little girl, with his child?

A. Yes.

Q. Did that appear to worry him?

A. I didn't notice, but he told me that he was discouraged.

Q. He told you that he was discouraged?

A. ...

Q. Did he say anything else apart from that? That he had a hard time with her?

A. He told me that he appeared discouraged sometimes, but that he had the right to be.

Q. He said that he appeared discouraged sometimes, but that he had the right to appear discouraged?

A. ....

BY THE COURT: Gagnon was the one who said that?

A. Gagnon was the one who told me that.

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Q. Because of the child?

A. The child and because he couldn't keep up buying -- that his house -- that everything was being wasted at home.

Q. You say that you went to the accused's place in January. Was it at the beginning of January?

A. No, not at the beginning.

Q. Around the middle?

A. I didn't notice the date, but it must have been in the middle of January.

Q. You saw Aurore that time?

A. Yes.

Q. Did you see her go on the floor, the time you were there?

A. Pardon?

A. Did you see her relieve herself on the floor, the time you were there?

A. No.

Q. You weren't aware that, near her little brother's cradle -- there, in front of everyone -- she had gone on the floor? You weren't aware of it?

A. No.

Q. The accused was a good fellow?

A. In my opinion, he is a good fellow.

Q. A hard worker?

A. A hard worker.

Q. And sober?

A. Yes.

Q. Is he a violent man? Malicious?

A. ....No.

And the deponent saith no more.

[signature]M. J. Tremblay


I, the undersigned, sworn stenographer, certify that the foregoing is the faithful transcript of my shorthand notes, the whole in accordance with the law.

Signed. [signature]

Source: ANQ, TP 9, S1, SS1, SSS999, 1960-01-35769, 3B 023 03-05-002A-01, Cour du banc du roi, assises criminelles, district de Québec, Déposition de Odilon Auger, procès de Télesphore Gagnon pour meurtre, n.d., 6.

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