Wednesday, January 19, 2011

North America's Last Guillotine

A guillotine sliced just once in North America, in 1889 on the island of St-Pierre, a stone's throw from eastern Canada. You can see it at the L'Arche Museum there.

Monsieur Neel had killed another man in a booze-fueled fight and was sentenced to die by the blade. Only one problem: St-Pierre didn't have a guillotine, so the islanders had to import one from Martinique. There was no executioner either. So the islanders convinced another prisoner - Monsieur Legent - to pull the lever in return for a reduced sentence.

As promised, Legent dropped the timbers of justice. The locals then shunned him. He was unable to get food or shelter and eventually had to be evacuated to France. The Juliette Binoche movie version bypasses that part of the storyline.

1 comment:

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