Aurore!  The Mystery of the Martyred Child
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Sitting in Quebec City on April 19, 1920. )


PRESENT: The Honourable Justice L. P. Pelletier.


- vs -


On the accusation of murder.


TREFFLE HOUDE, of STE. SOPHIE, farmer, 72 years of age, father of the accused, who, being sworn on the Holy Gospels, doth depose and say:


Q. You are a farmer, Monsieur Houde?

A. Yes.

Q. Have you always been a farmer?

A. No, Monsieur.

Q. For how long have you been one?

A. For twenty years.

Q. Before that, what did you do?

A. I was a labourer. I worked by the day for my wages.

Q. What type of work did you do?

A. All sorts of work, on log drives and in logging camps.

Q. You worked in logging camps?

A. In logging camps.

Q. Did you work at that for many years?

A. Yes, from the age of fourteen (14) until four years ago, when I gave it up.

Q. When did you begin that work?

A. At the age of fourteen, on logging drives.

Q. And in logging camps?

A. In logging camps everywhere.

Q. When did you stop doing it?


A. About five or six years ago, five years ago.

Q. Five or six years ago?

A. Yes.

Q. Did you have many children?

A. Eleven.

Q. How many of them are still alive?

A. Four, Monsieur.

Q. And the others – at what age did they die?

A. One died at nineteen years of age, and another at forty. Another died at three, you know – at one ………

Q. Do you know what illnesses they died of?

A. I don’t know. Of consumption, and of other diseases.

Q. How many died of consumption?

A. Only one.

Q. Only one?

A. Yes.

Q. What was the name of that child?

A. The name?

Q. Yes.

A. Ernestine.

Q. Was she married?

A. No, Monsieur. She was a girl; she was nineteen years old.

Q. When you were a young man, Monsieur Houde, did you used to indulge in drinking?

A. Not much, Monsieur.

Q. Not much?

A. No.

Q. Would you take a drink from time to time?

A. I would take a drink now and then when we were on the job; and when we got soaked we'd take a nip


from time to time.

Q. Marie-Anne, who now stands accused – was she sick when she was young?

A. Yes.

Q. At what age?

A. Twelve years?

Q. At twelve years of age?

A. Yes.

Q. What was wrong with her?

A. She had headaches.

Q. Did she lose consciousness?

A. Twice.

Q. Did you have the doctor come?

A. Yes, Monsieur.

Q. For how long did she have a headache like that?

A. She was sick several days after that?

Q. For how long was she like that in all, approximately?

A. About ten days.

Q. Did the Doctor tell you what was wrong with her head?

A. It was herbagitis........ he said that it was herbagitis, I think.

Q. Meningitis?

A. Yes.

Q. He said that she had meningitis?

A. Yes.

Q. That was when he was summoned to treat her because she had a headache?

A. Yes.

Q. And she had lost consciousness twice?

A. Yes, Monsieur.

Q. What Doctor did you have at that time?


A. I had Doctor Carignang?

Q. From St. Pierre ?

A. From St. Pierre.

Q. Is he dead now?

A. No, he should be alive, in St. Edouard.

Q. Doctor Carignan is not dead?

A. I haven’t heard that he was dead.

Q. But that is what he told you at that time, is that not so?

A. Yes, Monsieur.

Q. Was she sick after that?

A. She always had illnesses that dragged on.

Q. Did she have something wrong with her lungs?

A. She was never treated for that in all the time that I was with her.

Q. She didn’t have an inflammation of the lungs?

A. If she had, it was when I was away. I was away from my home; I was twelve miles away.

Q. What do you mean when you say that she had illnesses that dragged on?

A. Illnesses that she was treated for. I don’t know what kind of illnesses she had.

Q. Did you have her treated often?

A. Not very often. She was married young.

Q. At what age did she get married?

A. At seventeen.

Q. (By the Court) How old is she now?

A. Thirty years old, Monsieur.

Maître Francoeur.- I produce as Exhibit D-4 the birth certificate of the accused.

Q. You are the one who brought this birth certificate?

A. Yes.


Q. You obtained it from the Parish Priest of Ste. Sophie ?

A. Yes, Monsieur.

Q. Is it the one that I am submitting here as Exhibit D-4 ?

A. Don’t keep me too long. I don’t feel well; I can’t bear up any longer.

The Court gives the witness permission to sit down.


Q. It was at the age of twelve that she was allegedly sick?

A. Yes.

Q. With what illness?

A. Neuragitis, lethargy.

Q. Was that what she had at the age of twelve -- lethargy?

A. What they called menagitis.

Q. Did he tell you the name of the illness that she had had?

A. Yes, he said that.

Q. What you call lethargy or menagitis -- Doctor Carignan, the physician, said that?

A. The Doctor, yes, Monsieur.

Q. Please remember as well as you can, Monsieur Houde, and tell us if the word was lethargy or meningitis?

A. I don’t remember those matters….it could well be…..

Q. Were you at home when she fell ill like that?

A. No.

Q. You weren’t there?

A. No.

Q. You were away travelling?

A. I was away.

Q. Were you travelling?


A. Yes.

Q. When you returned from your travels, was it long after she had fallen ill?

A. I was away travelling for a long time. I was travelling; I was a long time.

Q. During her illness, you weren’t at home?

A. No – he had her treated at the house-- I was a widower at that time.

Q. You were not at home at all during that illness?

A. No.

Q. (By the Court) So what you know about it is what your family told you?

A. Yes, it was my daughter who stayed at home.


Q. Did the Doctor say this to you yourself?

A. No, he didn’t say it to me. I didn’t see him.

Q. You must have seen him since you told me earlier that it was the Doctor who had said that?

A. The Doctor said that to the people who were at home.

Q. Not to you?

A. Not to me. I wasn’t there. I was away.


Q. When you returned home, your daughter was better?

A. She was better.

Q. Was she often stricken by this type of headache?

A. I don’t know --- when I returned home, she was better.



Q. Was she often stricken by this type of headache?

A. Yes.

Q. Do you have knowledge that she suffered?

R . Yes, she often suffered from a headache.

Q. When you were at home as well?

A. Yes, she would complain of a headache, and she would take to her bed sometimes.

Q. You had knowledge of that?

A. Yes.

Q. You were at home?

A. Yes.

Q. For how long?

A. Ah well, sometimes for a day and a night.

Q. Now, how old was she at that time?

A. She was married at that time.

Q. She was married?

A. Yes.

Q. Married to whom?

A. To Napoléon Gagnon, her first husband.

Q. She would often complain about a headache?

A. Yes, she would take to her bed and lie down.

Q. Now, before that, when she was a girl, was it the same way?

A. It was the same.

Q. And you yourself had personal knowledge of this?

A. Yes, Monsieur.

Q. When you would come back from your travels?

A. When I would come home and the headache would strike, sometimes on Sunday and during the week.

Q. She was obliged to go and lie down?

A. Yes.

Q. For entire days?

A. Yes.


Q. For many days at a time?

A. For one day, and sometimes two days.

Q. Without being able to get up?

A. Yes. She had a headache.

RE-CROSS-EXAMINED BY MAÎTRE Lachance, on behalf of the Crown.

Q. For three days on? And at twelve years of age, you say?

A. [She was] young, and she had headaches.

Q. She left your home at the age of seventeen, when she got married?

A. Yes, Monsieur.


Q. She lived at your home when she was married?

A. She continued to stay at our home. She stayed one year with me, and then she left and she was away for a year. We were all alone; I was alone. She was doing housework. As for us, we would leave; we would go and work up in the logging camps, we were always away. That is all I have to say.

And further deponent sayeth not.

Source: ANQ, TP 999, 1960-01-3623 1B 014 01-04-004B-01, Cour du banc du roi, assises criminelles, district de Québec, Déposition de Trefflé Houde, procès de Marie-Anne Houde pour meurtre, April 19, 1920, 8.

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Great Unsolved Mysteries in Canadian History