On Monday, April 29, 1918, Pierre Guilloux was very upset. As he later told police, he believed Pierre Bourhis and his sons had played a dirty trick on him. They’d done him out of a quarter section of land in the Hawthorne district that he thought he’d rented by verbal agreement for the year. But that morning, when he met with Pierre and his sons, John and Joseph, they showed him a written lease to the land in question. Guilloux had already done some plowing on the land and claimed he should be paid for it. They refused.
Guilloux went to see a Mr. Darmedy at Kennedy, who had rented him the land and learned that Darmedy had made out the written lease held by the Bourhis family. His verbal agreement was a misunderstanding.
So what did Pierre Guilloux do? He went home, drank about half a bottle of whiskey, loaded his double barreled shotgun and went out to the quarter section of land where John and Joseph were plowing in the field.
Upon arriving, Guilloux immediately began to quarrel about the leased land and threatened John. Joseph warned Guilloux to be careful with his gun, that it might be loaded and he might accidentally pull the trigger. No sooner had he said this then Guilloux fired at John, the charge entering between the 5th and 6th ribs on his right side, close to his sternum.
John fell to his knees, calling to his brother for help. Joseph started to go to him, but looked up and saw Guilloux reloading the shotgun. Terrified, Joseph ran. Guilloux walked to within four feet of John, who was begging for mercy and raised the gun. John put up his right hand to shield his face. The shot blew off his thumb and forefinger and entered his right temple, killing him instantly. John fell in a heap to the ground.
Meanwhile, Joseph had run to the barn to warn their father, telling him to jump on his horse and ride away as he was doing. Pierre was leading his horse out of the barn when Guilloux fired from twelve feet away, hitting Pierre in the right side of his chest. Pierre managed to walked about twenty five feet before falling. He was dead.
Joseph managed to get away, galloping away down the road on his horse. He rode directly to the home of Jean Guilloux, Pierre Guilloux’s brother, and told him about the shooting.
Jean walked to the farm. On the way he met his brother and asked him what happened. He replied that Pierre and John Bourhis were dead and that he’d done the deed.
Aghast, Jean replied, “you’ve done all the shooting you are going to do.”
Pierre Guilloux walked the two miles to his home and was arrested later that evening by Inspector Collison and Constable Kelly of the provincial police. He was taken to the Regina jail to await his trial.
Up until the land argument, the two families had been on the best of terms. Both came from the same district in Brittany, France and Jean Guilloux was even married to Pierre Bourhis’ daughter.
The murder trial opened at Moosomin on June 4, 1918. Since his incarceration, Guilloux had refused to discuss the shooting, saying only that there was no use crying over spilled milk, and that the deed was done and he couldn’t undo it. He was described as a big man, with a powerful physique and strong constitution. He’d lived in the district for about twenty years, was single, and up until the shooting had a good reputation.
The prosecutor was Barrister Strang of Moosomin and Guilloux was represented by P. M. Anderson. Anderson made a strong defense on Guilloux’s behalf, pleading that his client was insane at the time of the shooting and was still insane. Four doctors were called to testify to the sanity of Guilloux. Dr. Pardis and Dr. Corbett testified for the defense, while Dr. Rothwell and Dr. Campbell testified for the crown.
On the evening of June 6, 1918, the jury found him guilty of murder after being out for only fifteen minutes. The following day, Justice Brown sentenced him to be hanged on October 3, 1918 at the Regina jail.
His lawyer made an appeal on his behalf, asking for his sentence to be commuted to a life sentence instead.
After his sentencing, Guilloux did show remorse for his crime, saying that he must have lost his mental balance, either through liquor or the stress of the land leasing matter. He was resigned to his fate, but still clung to the hope that his sentence would be commuted to life in prison. He was a model prisoner.
As his execution date drew closer, his hope was rewarded and the Minister of Justice granted his request, commuting his sentence to life imprisonment at the Prince Albert penitentiary.
And that is the story of the senseless murder or Pierre and John Bourhis.
Thank you for reading! If you enjoyed this post, please subscribe and share it with your friends!
Information for this post came from the following editions of the Regina Leader-Post: May 2, 1918, June 4, 1918, June 8, 1918, Sep 27, 1918, Oct 2, 1918, Oct 9, 1918
Want to read more true crime stories from historical Saskatchewan? Try these: