Aurore!  The Mystery of the Martyred Child


[ Intérieur de l'église de Fortierville (Autel), Peter Gossage,   ]

As a whole, this site contains a series of documents relating to the death of Aurore Gagnon, the legal proceedings triggered by this domestic tragedy, and the echoes of this story in Quebec popular culture over the decades since 1920. Most of these documents — the literary texts being an important exception — were produced by people living at the time of these events. This present section is different. Here you find, instead, recent analyses of the Gagnon affair drawn up by four specialists on the subject. They are the two authors of the site, the historian Marie-Aimée Cliche (a specialist in domestic violence in Quebec) and Jean Labbé, MD (paediatric consultant in child protection). Like you, these authors try to answer one or more of our three initial questions: Who was responsible for the death of Aurore? Why did this tragedy happen? and How did this story become a permanent element of Quebec’s collective memory? These authors have followed the same steps of research, analysis and interpretation followed by anyone who attempts to write history, which is to say that they have used the same logic as that which you find on the site in order to try to solve "the mystery of the child martyr."

You have read the sources, you have studied the historical contexts, you have identified the attitudes as well as the ways of thinking of Quebec society in 1920. With the help of these few interpretative texts, you are now able to compare your conclusions with those of specialists on the question.

Teachers can request access to the experts' interpretations of the mysteries that have been created for each site. We have made this section password-protected to encourage students to come up with their own interpretations of primary documents, rather than relying on other people's analyses. To access the Interpretations just fill in our online registration form and await your password.

Great Unsolved Mysteries in Canadian History