The conspirators might have gotten away with the mass murder had the plane left on time and exploded over the water of the St Lawrence. The delay meant the wreckage carshed on land where investigators could determine a bomb plot.

The conspirators might have gotten away with the mass murder had the plane left on time and exploded over the water of the St Lawrence. The delay meant the wreckage carshed on land where investigators could determine a bomb plot.
Photo Credit: CBC-Arctic Air

History- Sept 9, 1949 Canada; the deadliest airline sabotage

Share

In 1949, airline travel was still an exciting and relatively rare experience for the population in general. Love-triangles however, have been known throughout history.

On this day in 1949, those two things would collide with tragic results to make Canada the site of the first case of airplane sabotage solved through forensic investigation.

There had been two previous bombings of passenger planes; one in Chesteron Indiana in 1933 killing 10 in a possible gangland bombing, but with no suspects, and another in May of 1949-a contract bombing of a Philippines Airlines plane killing 13. Two ex-convicts later confessed to the bombing and a woman later charged in the murder of her husband aboard that plane.

That same year in the French-speaking province of Quebec, Albert Guay, 31, a struggling watch and jewelry salesman in Quebec City was in a troubled marriage with 28 year old Rita Morel.  Morel had recently moved out with their 5-year-old daughter.

The ill-fated DC-3 (converted C-47) pictured at Bagotville Quebec by Guy Allard in 1947
The ill-fated DC-3 (converted C-47) pictured at Bagotville Quebec by Guy Allard in 1947 © acques Trempe collection – 1000aircraftphotos.com)

Albert had at sometime earlier become enthralled with a 19-year-old waitress and began an affair but she apparently dumped him when she discovered he was still married.

In the strongly Catholic province, divorce would have been almost impossible, so Albert decided his wife Rita had to go- permanently- so he could be with the young Marie-Ange Robitaille.

In addition, he thought he would also collect money from insurance in the process. First he thought about poison, but then the idea of bomb on a plane came to him, possibly from the Philippines Airlines bombing earlier that year.

Guay then got a business acquaintance who owed him money, clockmaker Genereux Ruest, to make a timing mechanism from an ordinary clock and batteries. In those days civilians could buy dynamite fairly easily, the transactions merely being recorded.  Ruest got his sister Margeurite Pitre to buy the dynamite, telling the store clerk her husband wanted to remove some tree stumps.

Guay then convinced his wife to take the trip from Quebec City to Baie Comeau to pick up a box of jewelry he needed for his faltering business.

Apparently Rita was reluctant to go and there was a heated discussion in the departure area but she eventually boarded the plane just as Marguerite arrived in a taxi with a last minute package for the flight. It was placed in the baggage hold even as the engines were warming up.

The departure was scheduled for 10;20, but left at 10;25., the delay caused by the argument. That delay of just a few minutes would soon prove to be the conspirators undoing.

null

Albert already had a $5,000 insurance policy on his wife, but also that day had purchased an additional $10,000 accidental death policy.

Twenty minutes later, the Canadian Pacific Airlines DC-3 blew up in the sky killing Rita, and the 18 other passengers, including 4 children, and the 4 crewmembers.

It was the deadliest plane bombing to date.

The bomb had been timed to go off when the plane was over the St Lawrence river which would have made recovery of evidence virtually impossible at the time, but the 5 minute delay meant the wreckage came down over Cap Tourmente, on land.  Fishermen in the river had heard the bomb and saw the smoking wreckage plummet to the ground. They were able to point out where the plane went down and investigators soon found the scene in the forested area.

The remains of the passengers were collected and Albert feigned deep sorrow, buying a huge floral cross for his wife’s funeral.

Investigators however immediately felt the crash was mysterious and it wasn’t long before they knew it was a bombing.

They began to focus on the mysterious last-minute package, and the woman in black who had insisted it be put on board. They found the taxi driver and tracked it back to Marguerite who told police she the package contained a statue  given to her for delivery by local jeweler, Albert Guay.

When Guay found out he encouraged her to commit suicide as she would be blamed for the horrific crime and suffer the greatest shame and consequences. She took sleeping pills in an botched attempt, but while recovering admitted to police she knew that it was a bomb and about Guay’s plans.

Albert Guay, hearing the death sentence 1950
Albert Guay, hearing the death sentence 1950 © Canada Wide

Guay was arrested on September 23, and charged with mass murder. A jury found him guilty in January of 1950. As he imposed the death sentence the judge apparently said, “Your crime is infamous: it has no name,” With Marguerite testifying against him, he turned on her and Ruest saying they were knowing accomplices.

Albert Guay was hanged on January 19, 1951. In a dark foreshadowing of today’s celebrity seeking mass murderers and murders of famous people, he is reported to have said just prior to his death, “au moins je meurs celebre” (at least I die famous)

Ruest and his sister were then also charged. Ruest claimed he didn’t know the bomb would be used to kill people, although evidence was presented that he went to a nearby hotel where he could see the plane leaving.  He was found guilty and hanged for his role in July 1952. Marguerite continued to claim innocence and appealed all the way to the Supreme Court, but failed.

She was the 13th and last woman hanged in Canada, on  January 9, 1953

Share
Categories: Society
Tags: , , , ,

Do you want to report an error or a typo? Click here!

@*@ Comments

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

 characters available

Note: By submitting your comments, you acknowledge that Radio Canada International has the right to reproduce, broadcast and publicize those comments or any part thereof in any manner whatsoever. Radio Canada International does not endorse any of the views posted. Your comments will be pre-moderated and published if they meet netiquette guidelines.

Netiquette »

When you express your personal opinion in an online forum, you must be as courteous as if you were speaking with someone face-to-face. Insults and personal attacks will not be tolerated. To disagree with an opinion, an idea or an event is one thing, but to show disrespect for other people is quite another. Great minds don’t always think alike—and that’s precisely what makes online dialogue so interesting and valuable.

Netiquette is the set of rules of conduct governing how you should behave when communicating via the Internet. Before you post a message to a blog or forum, it’s important to read and understand these rules. Otherwise, you may be banned from posting.

  1. RCInet.ca’s online forums are not anonymous. Users must register, and give their full name and place of residence, which are displayed alongside each of their comments. RCInet.ca reserves the right not to publish comments if there is any doubt as to the identity of their author.
  2. Assuming the identity of another person with intent to mislead or cause harm is a serious infraction that may result in the offender being banned.
  3. RCInet.ca’s online forums are open to everyone, without regard to age, ethnic origin, religion, gender or sexual orientation.
  4. Comments that are defamatory, hateful, racist, xenophobic, sexist, or that disparage an ethnic origin, religious affiliation or age group will not be published.
  5. In online speak, writing in ALL CAPS is considered yelling, and may be interpreted as aggressive behaviour, which is unpleasant for the people reading. Any message containing one or more words in all caps (except for initialisms and acronyms) will be rejected, as will any message containing one or more words in bold, italic or underlined characters.
  6. Use of vulgar, obscene or objectionable language is prohibited. Forums are public places and your comments could offend some users. People who use inappropriate language will be banned.
  7. Mutual respect is essential among users. Insulting, threatening or harassing another user is prohibited. You can express your disagreement with an idea without attacking anyone.
  8. Exchanging arguments and opposing views is a key component of healthy debate, but it should not turn into a dialogue or private discussion between two users who address each other without regard for the other participants. Messages of this type will not be posted.
  9. Radio Canada International publishes contents in five languages. The language used in the forums has to be the same as the contents we publish or in one of the two official languages, English or French. The usage of other languages, with the exception of some words, is forbidden. Messages that are off-topic will not be published.
  10. Making repetitive posts disrupts the flow of discussions and will not be tolerated.
  11. Adding images or any other type of file to comments is forbidden. Including hyperlinks to other websites is allowed, as long as they comply with netiquette. Radio Canada International  is in no way responsible for the content of such sites, however.
  12. Copying and pasting text written by someone else, even if you credit the author, is unacceptable if that text makes up the majority of your comment.
  13. Posting any type of advertising or call to action, in any form, to Radio Canada International  forums is prohibited.
  14. All comments and other types of content are moderated before publication. Radio Canada International  reserves the right to refuse any comment for publication.
  15. Radio Canada International  reserves the right to close a forum at any time, without notice.
  16. Radio Canada International  reserves the right to amend this code of conduct (netiquette) at any time, without notice.
  17. By participating in its online forums, you allow Radio Canada International to publish your comments on the web for an indefinite time. This also implies that these messages will be indexed by Internet search engines.
  18. Radio Canada International has no obligation to remove your messages from the web if one day you request it. We invite you to carefully consider your comments and the consequences of their posting.

*