||September 5, 2008
Fatal Footnotes From Mattawa
In planning for a trip to
Snake Creek, Quebec, I ran across a fascinating story
of crime in the wilds. On August 9, 1917 on the Paul Morin farm on Snake Creek,
Quebec, across the Ottawa River from Snake Creek, Ontario (12 miles north of
Mattawa) things went wrong. Forty year old Paul Morin had a small farm, a wife,
a 6 year old son and a 15 year daughter. The daughter attracted the attention
of an 18 year old who worked at the nearby Morel farm. The farm was owned by
Henri Morel the MPP for the area for 22 years.
The Morin farmhouse in
Snake Creek, Quebec
Paul Morin did not like the strange
attitude of the 18 year old and told him to stay away. Morin also told the
father of another young lady, that the 18 year old was interested in, that he
was a problem. The unstable young man heard about this and wanted revenge.
The story of what happened was
reported in the North Bay Nugget on August 17,
1917. Apparently the suitor was seen with a gun by Mr. Morin and he wondered
out loud to his wife what he was up to but was not unduly concerned. His
daughter was at a friend’s. A few minutes later while working in his garden a
shot rang out from the loft in his barn. Morin died instantly. His 5 year old
son ran over to see what was happening and was shot in the head and died
instantly too. The mother ran out to help and was shot in the shoulder.
Headline in the North Bay Nugget,
August 17, 1917.
The shooter appeared back at the
Morel farm with no gun and was quite agitated saying that some soldiers had shot
at him and the Morins. He then ran around telling others this tale. People
rushed to the Morin farm and found the distraught mother covered in blood and
carrying her dead baby.
They soon realized who had done the
shooting and cornered him and handcuffed him. He was taken to Mattawa when the
next train went through. He apparently was cheerfully singing “Tipperary”
on the train. The young man was tried in April and given 25 years in prison.
When he was released with orders to not go near Mattawa he showed up immediately
and was taken into custody.
The farm changed hands several times
over the years and was owned by Vic Tremblay for 16 years until recently. Vic
provided the photo and information on this story. I hope to see the site when
our excursion goes to the area next week.
The Mad Trapper of
When writing the above story I
recalled another strange Mattawa case from another era. The story took place on
Cahill Lake on the Mattawa
Rivernorth of Talon Lake in November 1901. There were rumours that a
Mattawa man was living as a hermit trapper in the bush and was shooting at
people on the lake.
Sam Tongue and William Bell, two well
known Mattawa businessmen ,
did not know the story and went hunting on the lake with a group of friends The
two men were searching in a canoe for some lost dogs from their larger hunting
group. They found one dog and were returning to camp in their birch bark
The canoe was well loaded with the
dog, supplies, and rifles. They suddenly heard a shot and saw a man paddling
toward them about a quarter mile away. Unsuspectingly they approached the man
to inquire about the other missing dogs .
Suddenly the man put his paddle down, aimed his gun
at the men and fired. Tongue and Bell turned
and ran for shore. Another shot rang out and splashed nearby. Fortunately the
men got to shore before another shot was fired. When they got to shore they
took out their guns and prepared for the shooter.
He came ashore and climbed a rock carrying his rifle. Sam Tongue shot first and
all was quiet. Finally, they approached the rock and found the shooter dead in
three feet of water with his gun on the bottom.
Sam Tongue was found in court to have
shot in self defence and that ended the story of the Mad Trapper of Cahill Lake.
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