Montreal Gazette, 9 August 1869, page 3
The City: Assault and Murder
A jealous husband kills a rival.
Last night about 9 o’clock, Louis Labontanie, foreman of the carpenters of Tate’s Dry Dock, was killed outright by Adolphe Belanger, hackman, under the following circumstances:–
Adolphe Belanger’s wife, it appears, left him some time ago on account of the continuous ill-treatment she received. She took a house in Queen Street, opened a boarding house, and the place being near the work-shop of Labontanie, he came to board there. This roused the jealousy of Belanger, who paid frequent visits to the house; and as it had been told to him that Labontanie’s intimacy with his wife was more than that of a boarder, he repeatedly threatened the deceased that unless he left the society of the woman he would murder him. This threat he then carried into execution last night. About half-past eight o’clock he arrived at the residence of his wife. One story says she was out buying sugar, and that during her absence Belanger picked a quarrel with Labontanie and killed him with a [illegible] piece of wood, which is now in the hands of the police. Another story that Belanger, arriving at the house, he found Labontanie in his wife’s apartment, which so incensed him that he ran for the piece of wood and struck him down with it. Particularities will be learnt at the Coroner’s Inquest.
The inquest on the body of the murdered man Labonte was held this morning in the sitting room of the residence of Chief McLaughlin of the Water Police, Grey Nun Street. Coroner Jones having arrived he summoned a jury named as follows:– FH Martel, Nestor Turgeon, Alfred Gariepy, James Leggatt, Magloire Leblanc, Pierre Picard, George Belisle, Sylvester Bernerville, Joseph Dubois, Henri Perreault, Samuel Hanolin, Alexander Sannon, Thomas Buchanon, Louis Allard, Denis Richard, Louis Trudeau. Nestor Turgeon, foreman.
After being sworn the jury visited the body, and having viewed it, returned to the residence of Chief McLaughlin, when the first witness was called.
Joseph Nareau, a habitant from the County of Waterloo, being sworn in—I did not know Louis Labonte the deceased. I saw him for the first time last night. I went last night about seven o’clock to get a woman named Belanger, to take her to her mother’s house to ask her consent to marry her daughter. I don’t know the street in which Belanger lived. I don’t know the street in which I got the young woman, nor do I know what street the house is in I took her to. Mrs Belanger was alone when I went to her house last night. After I went in I sat down and talked. The young woman called the elder one mother and vice versa. After a little conversation, the elder said, I must go for my husband. Mrs Belanger accordingly went for her husband and returned saying that her husband had said ‘that they could manage this thing (meaning the marriage) without him, as they had done without him before.”
The prisoner was here brought in and is a short, stout, middle aged man.
Examination of the witness resumed.
Belanger came in soon after with another man, who I do not know; it was not the deceased; I asked the father’s permission to marry the girl and he consented; and the father and I then went out to a tavern and had a drink; I then returned to the house and left the father standing at the tavern door; the deceased during my absence had come into the house, after I had been a little while in the house, after my return, the prisoner came in and had some words with his wife to which I paid no attention; the prisoner raised his hand to strike his wife, and she retired; after this there was a good deal of talking; deceased got off of his chair and said a few angry words to Belanger, when the latter struck him a blow with his fist, sending him to the other side of the room; when the deceased fell I saw Belanger kick him several times; on what part of the body I don’t know; then I ran out of the house and stood upon the sidewalk where I saw near me two women who spoke English; when I got out of the house I heard no noise inside. Shortly after I saw Belanger leave the house with his coat over his arm. I went into the house I saw no one. My coat and cap being near the door I seized them and ran out. I was standing about forty feet from Belangers house talking to the two women; I had not my eyes directed to the Belanger own; persons might have gone in. No person came out of the house after I left it but Belanger.
The prisoner was here taken to identify the body as the man he saw in the house. On his return witness said- I think he was the man I saw lying dead in the house is the same man I saw in Belangers house last night. I am almost certain it is him, but I could not swear to his identity as I only saw him once. I slept at an hotel last night. I only saw Mrs Belanger after the affair as she was going into the house. I have had no conversation with her since. One of the persons in the hotel I slept at told me this morning that I was sought for and I came to the station this morning. When I saw Belanger strike deceased he had not a piece of wood or iron in his hand. He only struck him with his fist. I think it was about seven o’clocl when I arrived at the house. I don’t speak a word of English. On the 10th of this month I will have been a year at Waterloo. I can give no more information. What I have told is the truth and all I know.
To a Juryman—The daughter had left before the quarrel took place. Since then I have not seen the young woman; it was after my return to the house from having the glass of liquor that the girl went out; Belanger had two glasses of liquor, but appeared sober; Labonte also seemed perfectly sober.
The prisoner here being asked by Coroner Jones if he had any questions to ask, replied “No.”
Rosalle Deguere di Larose, wife of Adolphe Belanger, sworn – I live in the house the affair took place in; I have been only in it five days and do not know the name of the street; I am a married woman, and the prisoner is my husband; my husband has been separated from me for the past two years. It was he who abandoned me and my children; I support myself doing a day’s work and making men’s clothes; I have three children, one girl 18 years of age, another 14, and a boy eight years old; my children always stopped with me; I never abandoned them; I saw the young man named Joseph Nareau for the first time last night; he came to my house to demand my eldest daughter, Rosalie, in marriage, when Nareau came in the house with my daughter last night I and my other two children were in the house; Rosalie my daughter asked me to go and get the consent of her father; I went and he told me he would have nothing at all whatever to do with the affair; he treated me with contempt and neglect; when I returned from seeing my husband, I found Louis Labonte the deceased in the house. He had gone in during my absence. On my return Nareau and Labonte wanted supper. They gave me two fifty cent pieces to procure some supper. I went out to get it, as I went out the door my husband entered the house. I was out about a half an hour. I exchanged no words with my husband when I met him. When I came back I saw Labonte lying dead on the floor and a policeman in the room. My little boy was in the house but my two daughters fled from the scene; my husband came twice to the house; the first time he came he did nothing nor was there any quarrel; he did not attempt to strike me; he did not lift up his hand to strike me; I was out of the house when the row took place; I know nothing of it. Labonte boarded at my house, and paid me three dollars a week for his food. He sometimes slept at my house when he was too drunk to go home. On such occasions a separate bed was prepared for him. I have known Labonte for the past three year. I never heard my husband make any threats against Labonte. I have no conversation with my husband since last night. Labonte told me once that my husband had threatened him.
To a Juryman—It is who lease the house, not my husband. I do not know whether my husband and Labonte were on good terms or not. My husband had taken liquor, but Labonte was perfectly sober.
Prisoner—I have no questions to ask the witness.
Adolphe Belanger, eight years of age said he was aware of the nature and responsibilities of an oath and was then sworn—I live with my mother and my sister Melinda. Mr Labonte took his meals at our house but did not sleep there. Labonte was in the room of our house when my father came in and sat down. My father had no words with Labonte before he struck him and kicked him when he was down. I saw my father kick Labonte once and then I ran away. Nareau was in the house when my father struck Labonte. My mother and two sisters were out. My father had nothing in his hands when he struck Labonte. Labonte has taken his meals at our house for the last year and a half. My father has met Labonte at our house before on which occasions they frequently quarrelled. My mother did not warn me what to say but told me to tell all I know.
To the foreman—Mr Labonte never slept at our house, my mother did not tell me to say that Labonte did not sleep at our house.
To a juryman—I never told my father that Mr Labonte slept at our house.
Prisoner—Did you not tell me that Mr Labonte slept at our house.
Boy—I do not remember if I did or not.
Prisoner—Adolphe did you ever know of Labonte’s sleeping in the same room with your mother?
Boy—I never knew of it.
Prisoner—Adolphe, did your mother and Labonte ever go to the market in a carriage?
Boy—Some time ago my mother and Labonte came home together in a carriage from the market.
Prisoner—Did your mother ever go to St Lamberts with Labonte?
Boy—Not long ago my mother and my sister, my uncle, and Mr Labonte went over to St Lamberts for a little trip. Some time ago Mr Labonte came to our house when we lived in Bonaventure street and said “come away from this, you are spending all your money here.” He replied, “I will go out when you do so,” and he followed her.
Melinda Belanger, 14 years of age sworn—I was not present when the death of Mr Labonte took place. I did not see Labonte and my father together in the house. I saw Mr Labonte. I am out at service with Mr Melfin at the St Ann’s Suburbs. I was at home for a short time last night, and was present when Nareau asked my sister in marriage. A Mr Gougeon was present when Nareau asked my sister in marriage. I know nothing further of the occurrence.
Joseph Parent, constable of the Water Police force, sworn—I was on duty last night about half past eight o’clock upon Common street. A man named Triolet came to me and said “there is a man in Queen street who I think is dead; a man named Belanger has been beating him.” There was a man named Gouggeon who cried out, “Belanger come here and deliver yourself to the police.” I called out to Belanger to stop. He did so, and I brought him to the station. I gave Belanger in charge of the guard and went to Queen street, and entered with Gougeon the house in which the murder had been committed. I saw a man lying on the floor, his face and neck covered in blood. I examined the man, and found that life was not quite extinct. I at once sent for a doctor, and Dr Chipman came. Before his arrival the man was a corpse. I searched all rooms to find if anything in the house that the deceased might have been struck with. I found two pieces of wood.
The two pieces of wood were here produced; on one of the pieces there were stains of blood. Witness resumed—I thought there was a blood on both pieces of wood but I find there is blood only on the one piece. I had no conversation with the prisoner.
Francis Gougeon, carter, sworn—I have known the deceased Labonte for the last 25 or 28 years. Last night about a past 8 I was on the stand when Mrs Belanger came to me and said that her husband was beating “her poor Louis” and requested me to go for a policeman to Chaboillez Square. I said the Water Police Station was nearer and drove there. Belanger was sober. I also went for a doctor. When I went into the house Labonte appeared to be dead. I loosened his necktie, there was no one in the house, the corpse was that of Louis Labonte.
Dr Clarence Chipman was called to Queen street about nine o’clock b a carter to visit a man who had been hurt. The carter took him to Queen street where he saw a man lying dead on the floor. Examined the body first and found traces of violence on the head and face of the body. Left immediately on finding the man dead; the body was in charge of the police. Made an external and internal examination on the body of Labonte to-day. On the back of the head there was a small wound about three quarters of an inch long. On the right temple there was a small wound about a quarter of an inch long. Over the right eyebrow there was a small contusion. On making an incision in the head, found blood on the inside of the skin covering the head, the blood corresponded with the wound. The muscle over the ear was very soft and mashed almost to a pulp, and of a dark purple colour from an infusion of blood. On taking off the top of the skull the brain was prominent as if from blood under the membranes. On taking off the first membrane of the brain all the vessels under the second membrane were filled with blood, and a considerable quantity of dark blood came from the back part of the head. On taking off the second membrane there was also a considerable congestion of the cerebellum. There was no evidence of any fracture at the base of the skull. The skull was not broken at all. Examined the lungs, heart and other organs and found them in healthy condition. The stomach contained a portion of a meal taken about two hours and a half before. There was no odor of spirits in the stomach. There were some slight congestions of the lungs, liver, spleen, and intestines. There was a rupture on the left side for which he wore a truss. There was a large contusion on the back part of the head corresponding to the wound there. there was also a wound on the left side of the upper lip. The wound on the back of the head might have been inflicted by a sharp instrument like a splinter of wood, or by something blunt; possibley by the sharp part of a boot. Did not die from the wounds; were not mortal. Probably died from concussion of the brain caused by blows given on the head; if the blows had been very severe, death might have ensued in half or three quarters of an hour. The wounds themselves were not of a sufficiently serious nature to produce the concussion of the brain, of which the man died. Concussion of the brain comes from violence—such as a blow to the head, or a fall on the floor, and there might be no mark left upon the head. If a man were struck on the head with the fist it would not be sufficient to cause concussion; but a fall on the floor might do it. The several blows together would produce concussion and death.
The two small wounds in front might have been produced by the knuckles.
The room was then cleared, and after a short interval, the jury declared the prisoner guilty of murder. The witnesses were bound over to appear at the next session of the Court of Queen’s Bench.
About four o’clock a hearse appeared at the door of the house, a coffin was taken out, and the body of Labonte, which had previously been made ready, was placed in it. The followers of the hearse were a mixed crowd of people, drawn together from curiosity. The son of the deceased was the only relative who attended the funeral.