Other Points in Time: Canada’s Last Hanged Men

Almost 40 years ago, Canada abolished the death penalty. This took away the country’s ability to exact “an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth.” Has the world become a better place because of that? I wonder…

The History


In 1749, Peter Cartcel, a sailor aboard a ship in the Halifax harbour, stabbed Abraham Goodsides to death and wounded two other men. He was brought before a Captain’s Court where he was found guilty and sentenced to death. Two days later he was hanged from the yardarm of the vessel as a deterrent to others. This is one of the earliest records of capital punishment in Canada.

After Confederation (1867), a revision of the statutes reduced the number of offences to only three general offences that were punishable by death: murder, rape, and treason. In 1868, Parliament also stated that thelocation of the execution was to be within the confines of the prison, as opposed to the public hangings in the past. As a result, by the 1870s, the jails had begun to build the gallows five feet from the ground with a pit underneath instead of the previous high scaffold, built level with the prison wall.

In 1950, an attempt was made to abolish capital punishment. Mr. W. Ross Thatcher, at that time a Cooperative Commonwealth Federation (CCF) Member of Parliament, moved Bill No. 2 in order to amend the Criminal Code to abolish the death penalty. However, Thatcher later withdrew it for fear of Bill No. 2 not generating positive discussion and further harming the chances of abolishment. In 1956, the Joint Committee of the House and Senate recommended the retention of capital punishment as the mandatory punishment for murder, which opened the door to the possibility of abolition.

In 1961, legislation was introduced to reclassify murder into capital or non-capital offences. A capital murder involved a planned or deliberate murder, murder during violent crimes, or the murder of a police officer or prisonguard. Only capital murder carried the death sentence.

Following the success of Lester Pearson and the Liberal Party in the 1963 federal election, and through the successive governments of Pierre Trudeau, the federal cabinet commuted all death sentences as a matter of policy. Hence, the de facto abolition of the death penalty in Canada occurred in 1963, with legal abolition a formality. On November 30, 1967, Bill C-168 was passed creating a five-year moratorium on the use of the death penalty, except for murders of police and corrections officers. On January 26, 1973, after the expiration of the five-year experiment, the Solicitor General of Canada continued the partial ban on capital punishment, which would eventually lead to the abolition of capital punishment. On July 14, 1976, Bill C-84 was passed by a narrow margin of 130:124 in a free vote, resulting in the de jure abolition of the death penalty, except for certain offences under the National Defence Act. These were removed in 1998.

The last two people executed in Canada were Ronald Turpin, 29, and Arthur Lucas, 54, convicted for separate murders, at 12:02 am on December 11, 1962 at the Don Jail in Toronto.

The Chart


Sun 18 Sagittarius 40′
Moon 16 Gemini 13′
North Node 1 Leo 47′
Mercury 27 Sagittarius 24′
Venus 13 Scorpio 22′
Mars 23 Leo 25′
Jupiter 5 Pisces 46′
Saturn 7 Aquarius 50′
Uranus 5 Virgo 18′
Neptune 14 Scorpio 29′
Pluto 12 Virgo 10′

Ascendant 18 Virgo 52′
Midheaven 16 Gemini 42′
2nd House 13 Libra 16′
3rd House 12 Scorpio 49′
5th House 21 Capricorn 17′
6th House 22 Aquarius 24′


The Human Spirit (Part 1)


Here’s another event close to my heart. In 1959, Steven Truscott (14 years old at the time) was scheduled to be hung in December. As a 9-year-old, I was horrified. In my mind, I could imagine what he was going through. There was such a public outcry that his execution was postponed for three months, and then commuted to a life sentence. In the end he was acquitted of the crime, but not until he had served his sentence and been paroled. In the opinion of Canadians, capital punishment needed to be abolished to avoid the country committing the killing of an innocent person. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Steven_Truscott

The final two hangings happened simultaneously, so anything that is revealed by this chart has a double effect. As this took place during a full moon, I will start there with aspects to the Moon. Please note the double T-square involving the Sun in opposition to the Moon/Midheaven conjunction and square to the Pluto/Ascendant conjunction.

You want to know the objective truth about the world, the truth that exists independently of yourself. (Sun Opposition Moon)

You must learn to be very careful how you deal with others, especially people in positions of authority. You tend to get involved in personality conflicts in which you have to prove your strength of suffer defeat. (Sun Square Pluto)

The problem you will have to resolve is that if you pursue what you want in life, you may not be able to get along with others. (Sun Square Ascendant)

You are very concerned with your inner personal world, and less influenced by others’ ideals and expectations than most people. (Sun Opposition Midheaven)

This aspect means that your emotions are often so intense that you seem to be at their mercy. Your feelings even affect your behaviour, causing you to act without thinking. (Moon Square Pluto)

Your feelings are quite changeable, and they influence how you feel about people. One day you really like someone, but on another day, you feel completely different. You may find it very difficult to treat others the same way all the time. (Moon Square Ascendant)

Be careful not to believe passively that the world will surely take care of you. (Moon Conjunct Midheaven)

What you must recognize is that nothing in you is really that bad. You have to look at these hidden aspects of yourself as if you were meeting another person and ask yourself whether they really are that bad. Most people are perfectly all right inside, but they do not realize it. Holding yourself back and trying to hide certain elements of yourself from other people is likely to cause more problems than being totally honest about yourself, because the repressed drives get out of control and demand expression at the worst possible moments. (Pluto in the 12thHouse)

Your emotions are very intense. You go through periods of very dramatic psychological change, and after each of these periods others will feel as if they are seeing a new you. During those phases of change you are very touchy, irritable and subject to outbursts of emotion. But you thrive on the process of change even though it is often painful. (Pluto Conjunct Ascendant)

You have a strong desire to bring about change in your world, and you may want to be a reformer and rebuilder. However, you should not try to get power simply for its own sake. You have to use the energies of Pluto for a purpose higher than yourself. (Pluto Square Midheaven)

The Human Spirit (Part 2)


After reviewing these aspects, I would say that the last two men show up as Pluto personified. And the higher purpose, mentioned in the last aspect, is the abolition of capital punishment in Canada. But there are other aspects which have a bearing on our understanding of this event. They involve inconjuncts between the Moon and the Venus/Neptune conjunction and one between Saturn and Uranus.

There is the danger that if you spend so much time and effort trying to get what you need, you will not be able to give love to others. Thus is aspect can mean that you indulge yourself and expect others to do everything for you. Of course, if people think that you are looking at things this way, they will not be inclined to help you. That will drive you to seek love even more and make the pattern even stronger. (Moon Inconjunct Venus)

People with this aspect often hide their real feelings and make sacrifices for others that they do not really want to make. Then they resent the person who asked for the sacrifice. You must learn to tell people how you really feel; if you do not, you have only yourself to blame for what happens. You must learn to accept that you are responsible for your own life. Do not act as if you are the victim of strong forces you can’t control, because you can control them. (Moon Inconjunct Neptune)

Your basic problem is to accept reality as it is, not as you would like it to be. Accept people as they are and look for their own beauty rather than the beauty you want to see. Even more important, accept yourself the same way. Recognize that you have real needs, which must be fulfilled as much as anyone else’s. (Venus Conjunct Neptune)

You feel that somehow you must keep everything in your life under tight control, that if you let go, the whole structure will fall apart. (Saturn Inconjunct Uranus)


Finally, the most important aspect has to do with Jupiter (representing justice) in opposition to the Pluto/Uranus conjunction (change).

Think twice before you upset tradition. Many traditions exist for a good reason, even though those who believe in them can’t always defend them. (Jupiter Opposition Uranus)

This aspect can signify fanatical ideals of righteousness, rigid notions of justice, and the feeling that everyone else must be forced to follow whatever you consider right. (Jupiter Opposition Pluto)

This aspect signifies people who will be revolutionaries in the truest sense. They will be very eager and restless for change, but at the same time patient enough to learn how to really bring it about. (Uranus Conjunct Pluto)



Picture credits: Steven Truscott as a boy courtesy of http://www.cbc.ca
The End of the Rope courtesy of http://www.thestar.com
The Don Jail courtesy of wikipedia

About cdsmiller17

I am an Astrologer who also writes about world events. My first eBook "At This Point in Time" is available through most on-line book stores. I have now serialized my second book "The Star of Bethlehem" here. And I am experimenting with birth and death charts.
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