In 1897 Cordélia Viau's husband was fond. He was stapped
and his throat had been slit from ear to ear. Cordélia was
arrested along with her lover, Sam Parslow. The evidence,
together with confessions from both suggested that Sam was
a moral weakling under Cordélia's thumb, that he had done the
actual stabbing and that Cordélia had then slit her husband's
throat after he was dead. Tried and found guilty, they would
hang back to back in the jail yard in St. Scholastique , only a
few kilometres from the scene of their crime - about 50
kilometres north of Montreal.
The execution took place on March 10, 1899. Cordélia was
then 23 years old.
The execution took place on March 10, 1899.
At 6.30 a.m. the audience were allowed into
the prison yard. They saw that while the
scaffold's platform was open to their view, a
cloth had been rigged around its base to hide
the death throes of the condemned once the
trap had been sprung. They could even see a
heap of "the frozen earth that it had been
nesessary to excavate in order to make the pit
deep enough to successfully carry out the
A little before at 8.00 a.m.the door of the jail
opened. First came the sheriff, in his official
robes, followed by Cordélia and a priest. She
showed not the slightest sign of breaking
down, and slightly lifting her skirt so as not to
rip, she bravely ascended the steps of the
gallows. They were followed by Sam in a
very shaky condition, several priests and the
executioner, John Radclive.
The two stood on the trap
back to back, separated by a
cloth screen so they could not
see each other. Their arms and
legs were oinioned, hoods
were placed over their heads
and the nooses were snugged
into place. Radclive nodded,
the priests stepped back and at
8.04 a.m. the trap sprung. The
noise made the crowd outside
the prison cheer, and the
witnesses rushed forward and
tore down the screen to
expose the dangling bodies. A
priest shouted "Shame!,
Shame! For decency's sake!
Have you no decency?"
Meanwhile the attending
doctors struggled to attest that
deat did occur. Cordélia was
dead after 6.30 minutes, Sam
after 12 minutes.