Aurore!  The Mystery of the Martyred Child

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La Presse, October 1, 1920, p.1


The Gagnon woman will be taken to Kingston at a later date.


(From the correspondent of La PRESSE)
Quebec City, 1st.- This morning, Marie-Anne Houde, wife of the convict Télesphore Gagnon, was to have hanged for having tortured her stepdaughter, Aurore Gagnon. All the preparations for the execution had been completed for quite some time. The preparations had been simple, since the same gallows that were to be used for this execution had been prepared for last July’s execution of two Romanians, Debeka and Morari, and had been left standing. The executioner, Ellis, who had come to Quebec City for the planned execution, has left for an unknown destination, having others to dispatch to the Great Beyond in the near future. He did not, however, forget to collect the wages that he was owed for his work.

The standard wage for a hangman is $100 for each execution, in addition to expenses for travel and board. He is paid whether the execution takes place or not. So it was, last June, that he collected $240 from Sheriff Blouin for having come to Quebec City for the purpose of hanging Debeka and Morari. A stay of execution having been granted the two, he left after having collected this sum, promising to return to hang the two men in July. He did not return, and it was another hangman, a Negro, who replaced him.

The gallows that have been set up in the Quebec City prison courtyard will remain in place for some time. They will remain ready for the execution of Joseph Rémillard, sentenced to hang on October 29 for the murder of Lieutenant Lucien Morissette, committed in Bienville last winter.

General opinion is that Joseph Rémillard will not be hanged, but that his death sentence will be commuted to life imprisonment. His legal counsel, Monsieur Marc-Aurèle Lemieux, will present a motion before the Criminal Court on October 11 for a new trial.

The Gagnon woman will not leave Quebec City prison for many months. She will remain there as long as she is nursing her twins. Only afterwards will she be sent to the Kingston Penitentiary.

Monsieur Carbonneau, the Quebec City prison warden, is among those who are the most pleased by the commutation of the Gagnon woman’s death sentence. He is one of those who believe that the Gagnon woman was not entirely responsible for the monstrous acts perpetrated on the little martyr, Aurore Gagnon. He has had the opportunity to get to know this woman and to observe her more than anyone else has, and, according to him, hanging this woman would have been a crime. This opinion is shared by all the employees of the Quebec City prison.

Source: Correspondant La Presse, "On la laisse encore à ses deux jumeaux," La Presse (Montréal), October 1, 1920.

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Great Unsolved Mysteries in Canadian History