The Tragic Tale of the Accidental Axe — Warning: Not All History has Good Memories



Warning: Not All History has good memories- could be upsetting to some.

I found three sentences in the Winnipeg Free Press about a husband who had a complete meltdown. You have to understand that even though ‘yellow journalism’ was prevalent in the past, if there was something that should be hidden for local eyes—it was swept under the rug pretty quickly. However, I did find the complete article in the Almonte newspaper archives on the very front page.

In March of 1925 Mrs. Selima LaVallee of Carleton Place was attacked by her husband Peter. Apparently family troubles had not been a new thing, but this time Peter LaVallee had decided to go all Lizzie Borden on his wife. A labourer in our fair town, now found himself under arrest as his wife lay in pain in the Almonte Hopsital recovering from axe wounds.

Mr. and Mrs. LaVallee, along with their four children, occupied a small log cabin on the 7th line of Beckwith. LaVallee had been cutting wood for Thomas Godfrey of Carleton Place when he suddenly headed home and attacked his wife with an axe. After the attack he began to suffer remorse. He walked to the next concession and telephoned Rev. F. E. Gray of Carleton Place to tell him about his wife’s injuries. Gray in turn contacted then Carleton Place mayor J. A. McEwen. The mayor contacted Police Chief Fred Nichols who immediately went to LaVallee’s cabin with Dr. Johnston in tow. After such a lengthy delay Dr. Johnston found Mrs. LaVallee in a very weak condition. She had deep gashes on the back of her neck, one finger was almost severed on her left hand, and her right hand was badly cut.

LaVallee was brought to the Carleton Place jail and told authorities he had no recollection of the axe attack. Mrs. LaVallee begged to differ and said her husband had attacked her during a disagreement and struck her repeatedly with an axe. Thankfully the four children were not at home and were immediately brought to the children’s shelter in Carleton Place when they arrived home.

In the opinions of others that knew him, LaVallee had experienced a moment of temporary insanity. Two years previous Peter had attempted suicide and police had been called on numerous occasions to their residence to restore order. One would immediately assume it was the pattern of an abusive husband. I know I did.

I decided to take it a few steps farther and found out they had lost an 8 year-old daughter named Eva in 1919. I think we all know that wielding an axe on your wife is just dead wrong. The man was definitely suffering from grief and deep depression from the death of his daughter if he had previously attempted suicide. Today the man would have been charged and would been given help with doses of anti depressants.  His wife Selima never left him and was buried next to him in the end. It was also noted in different archives that the other children were married off early in the coming years.


Clipped from The Lethbridge Herald,  05 Mar 1925, Thu,  Page 3

About lindaseccaspina

Linda Knight Seccaspina was born in Cowansville, Quebec about the same time as the wheel was invented and the first time she realized she could tell a tale was when she got caught passing her smutty stories around in Grade 7 at CHS by Mrs. Blinn. When Derek "Wheels" Wheeler from Degrassi Jr. High died in 2010, Linda wrote her own obituary. Some people said she should think about a career in writing obituaries. Before she laid her fingers to a keyboard, Linda owned the eclectic store Flash Cadilac and Savannah Devilles in Ottawa from 1976-1996. After writing for years about things that she cared about or pissed her off she finally found her calling. Is it sex drugs and rock n' roll you might ask? No, it is history. Seeing that her very first boyfriend in Grade 5 (who she won a Twist contest with in the 60s) is the head of the Brome Misissiquoi Historical Society and also specializes in local history back in Quebec, she finds that quite funny. She writes every single day and is also a columnist for Hometown News and Screamin's Mamas. She is a volunteer for the Carleton Place and Beckwith Heritage Museum, an admin for the Lanark County Genealogical Society Facebook page, and a local guest speaker. She has been now labelled an historian by the locals which in her mind is wrong. You see she will never be like the iconic local Lanark County historian Howard Morton Brown, nor like famed local writer Mary Cook. She proudly calls herself The National Enquirer Historical writer of Lanark County, and that she can live with. Linda has been called the most stubborn woman in Lanark County, and has requested her ashes to be distributed in any Casino parking lot as close to any Wheel of Fortune machine as you can get. But since she wrote her obituary, most people assume she's already dead. Linda has published six books, "Menopausal Woman From the Corn," "Cowansville High Misremembered," "Naked Yoga, Twinkies and Celebrities," "Cancer Calls Collect," "The Tilted Kilt-Vintage Whispers of Carleton Place," and "Flashbacks of Little Miss Flash Cadilac." All are available at Amazon in paperback and Kindle. Linda's books are for sale on Amazon or at Wisteria · 62 Bridge Street · Carleton Place, Ottawa, Canada, and at the Carleton Place and Beckwith Heritage Museum · 267 Edmund Street · Carleton Place, Ottawa, Canada--Appleton Museum-Mississippi Textile Mill and Mill Street Books and Heritage House Museum and The Artists Loft in Smith Falls.

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