Tuesday, 18 March 2014

Perth ON Courthouse; Abandoned gallows and hangman's grounds

This is what I'd heard. I have yet to research it. The buildings in Perth are a demonstration o
Hangman's building inside
f the mastery of Scottish stone masons. This town, settled in 1816 by demobilized Scots soldiers, reflects an interesting architecture. I grew up in downtown Toronto, and lived in a 200-year-old home. I loved the creaking of the stairs, as I heard dad come upstairs at bedtime, unhappy that his beloved Leafs had lost, again.

I noticed a photo on Twitter, taken by an Ottawa man doing some exploring in Perth. He was explaining that this was the old gallows from back in the day. I was curious. We were about to take a drive, to look for those ubiquitous Snowy owls, and we went and took a look.

The bad news is that I still haven't been able to spot an owl.
Checking out this building was interesting. I have not been able to do any research on the building, but it is an unused space, with high walls around it.

Capital Punishment in Canada – a UK site

 This site provides a list of executions, by country, in Canada from 1860 to abolition. This looks to be good information. Apparently, Rufus Weedmark, age 44, was hanged in Perth, Ontario, on December 14th, 1910. In Canada we've been revisiting mandatory sentencing. Not a good idea, methinks, for you'd think a judge would be able to weigh circumstances. We do have fines that must be paid to victim services, but those who are on the streets have no means to pay them. Fortunately, violent crimes are down. We are learning something.

Between 1892 and 1961, the mandatory penalty for murder was death by hanging. The last public execution took place in 1869. There was a Decree, Jan. 1st, 1870, by Order in Council, that future executions would be private. Then, on July 14, 1976, the House of Commons passed Bill c-84 abolishing capital punishment, replacing it with a mandatory life sentence. The death penalty was removed from the Criminal Code in 1976, and totally abolished capital punishment in 1998.

The building is interesting. There are four high walls, with a heavy chained door. I could peek through and take a photo of the land inside. The four walls are gruesome, the building is located behind the courthouse. The 'good old days', indeed.
An excellent book on slavery and hanging. A brilliant piece of research, The Hanging Of Angelique: The Untold Story Of Canadian Slavery tells of the hanging of a black woman in Montreal. Well-researched, it busts the slavery myths. By Afua Cooper, 2007.
"Negress, slave woman of Thérèse de Couagne, widow of the late François Poulin de Francheville, you are condemned to die, to make honourable amends, to have your hand cut off, be burned alive, and your ashes cast to the winds." 
-- Judge Pierre Raimbault, June 4, 1734 
Heavily chained door

1872 County Registry Office

parking lot behind the courthouse
Registry office left

Trees have grown up inside the walls

The church across the street

High walls


Rear of the building – apartments?

1 comment:

Christine said...

these buildings look like they will last forever.