Aurore!  The Mystery of the Martyred Child


[ Fenêtre du grenier où Aurore dormait, Peter Gossage,   ]

We have presented in detail the play by Petitjean and Rollin (1921), the film by Jean-Yves Bigras (1952), and the novels by Yves Thériault (1952) and André Mathieu (1990) because of their impact, but also as examples. Whoever wants to have a thorough knowledge of the artistic output inspired by "little Aurore" and her tragic end would have to go much further. Here is a list (no doubt incomplete) of the works inspired by the Gagnon affair since 1920, presented in order of the date of publication. You will see to what extent the list is long and varied.

Petitjean, Léon and Henri Rollin. Aurore l'enfant martyre. Histoire et présentation de la pièce par Alonzo Le Blanc. Montréal: VLB éditeur, 1982 [1921]. 273 p.

circa 1927-1931
De Beaujolais, Robert. La petite martyre victime de la marâtre: roman sensationnel. Province of Québec: n.d. 48 p.
This novel's structure was inspired by the first version of the stage play by Petitjean and Rollin, i.e., the mistreatment and the death of Aurore, without the trial. The author kept the comical elements of the play, i.e., the amusing scenes between the neighbour and her suitor, seeking to thus make the situation less melodramatic.

Asselin, Emile. La petite Aurore. Montréal: Alliance cinématographique canadienne, 1952. 286 p.
At the invitation of the producer J.-Alexandre de Sève, Émile Asselin wrote a story about Aurore, upon which he based the screenplay of a film and wrote the novel. In the film he took on the role of parish priest that he held in the play. Published in 20 000 copies, Asselin's novel was released in bookstores at the same time that the film was released in cinemas.

Bigras, Jean-Yves. La petite Aurore, l’enfant martyre. Montréal: France Film, Alliance cinématographique canadienne, 1952. Film. 105 minutes.

Thériault, Yves [Benoit Tessier, pseud.]. Le drame d’Aurore. Montréal, Québec: Diffusion du livre, 1952. 168 p.

Pascal, Hubert. Le roman d’Aurore la petite persécutée. Montréal: Éditions du Bellier, 1966.
The events take place between 1932 and 1936 in St. Sauveur in the Laurentians. The author paints a picture of the Maheu family, a happy and united family until the mother dies giving birth to her fifth child. A year later, the father remarries and the mistreatment of Aurore quickly begins. In the village, the parishioners find it strange to no longer see Aurore as before. They confide their concerns to the parish priest who, in intervening, brings about a lull in the mistreatment. Unfortunately, some time later, Aurore begins to be subjected again to her stepmother's violence, until she dies. The novel ends with the arrest and the trial of the cruel stepmother.

Garneau, Michel. L’enfant Aurore. Québec, 1982. Play for puppets.
Inspired by Émile Asselin's novel, the play presents the conflict between passion and reason. Marie-Louise is pregnant and sick with jealousy. Her troubled mind suggests exchanging, through a sort of "magical sadism," the suffering of one life for the beauty of another. The child's mistreatment is mentioned but not shown. The author wanted to show the suffering, the distress and the solitude of children mistreated by adults.

Cyr, René-Richard. Aurore, l’enfant martyre. Montréal, 1984. Stage play.

Giguère, Denis. L’obsession de Marie-Anne G…, Québec, 1986. Radioplay.
Radio play recounting the imprisonment of Marie-Anne G. in the psychiatric section of the Kingston prison and suggesting a personal relationship with the attending physician.

Mathieu, André. Aurore: la vraie histoire. Saint-Eustache: Éditions du Cygne, 1990. 479 p.

Blandford, Mark. L’affaire de la petite Aurore. Les grands procès du Québec, no 3.
One-hour program presented on the TVA television network in November. Marie-Anne Houde's trial was the one acted out. A 35-page booklet was published at the same time by the Éditions de la rue Querbes.

Dionne, Luc (screenwriter and director). Aurore. Montreal, Alliance Atlantis Vivafilm. Film, 119 minutes.

Great Unsolved Mysteries in Canadian History