Corriveau, La

La Corriveau, popular designation of Marie-Josephte Corriveau (b at St-Vallier, Qué 14 May 1733; d at Québec City 18 Apr 1763). In April 1763 a controversial court martial, based largely on rumour and hearsay, convicted Joseph Corriveau of the murder of his son-in-law, Louis Dodier. His daughter, Marie-Josephte, was convicted as an accessory and a servant, Isabelle Sylvain, was convicted for perjury. After being sentenced to hang, Corriveau confessed that he was merely an accessory to his daughter's crime. In a second trial she confessed and was sentenced to be hanged and then gibbeted in an iron cage at Pointe-Lévy - an unusual punishment unknown during the French regime and reserved in England for persons found guilty of particularly heinous crimes.

This treatment fired the popular imagination and gave rise to many legends and myths. Following the discovery about 1850 of an iron cage near the Lauzon cemetery, the oral traditions about the incident were transferred into literature by Philippe AUBERT DE GASPÉ in LES ANCIENS CANADIENS (1863). Several other authors, notably Louis FRÉCHETTE, Sir James MacPherson LEMOINE and William KIRBY, elaborated on the legend by adding imaginary crimes and gruesome details. Other embellishments include the number of husbands killed (2 to 7), her dissolute life and her haunting of various places. In 1981 Andrée LeBel published the historical novel La Corriveau. The legal aspects of her case are discussed in F. Murray Greenwood and Beverley Boissery's Uncertain Justice: Canadian Women and Capital Punishment 1754 - 1953 (2000).