My Words.....

Dee McCullay

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I have written of Oswald Mousseau in the past, and relayed his sad story verbatim. His story is so outrageous some would consider it a fallacy, thinking no, that’s absolutely crazy! However his grave is a silent testament to his life and death, whether anyone believes or not.

An example was in the 1980’s some High School students heard the story and thought it unbelievable. One student was informed by his grandfather as to the whereabouts of this location. They all got in a truck one night, about 8 of them piling in the cab and box, drove down there. Upon finding they could drive no further, they started walking with a single flashlight in hand. They panned the light across the field and trees, as soon as one of the boys spotted the white painted cross gleaming, he exclaimed, “There it is!” The light immediately died. The group got so scared they ran back to the truck. Two of the boys walked back, the one with the flashlight, while the other thought it was a joke. “Okay man, what did you do?” “Nothing, it just shut off!” the other replied. Sure enough he handed the light over where the switch was tested several times. It really did die. They got back to the truck was and it immediately lit up.

Oswald Mousseau Grave
Died September 6, 1932


The only variation of the story over the years is what he drank. I had heard it to be a form of liquid wolf poison, but we will soon find out what it really was. Also I had heard of him being a prospector, which was not stated in the news article at the time. Another was of the Hydro electric company forcing him to leave and he was not going to at any cost. This may be a fallacy. As we find out he was acting strangely 2 years prior, which means a few people could testify to the fact, not just “I saw him yesterday and he gave me a funny look.” So it was a long time coming. So what really happened?

Mr. Mousseau dug a tomb,

In life he cursed his mother’s womb.
He dressed up in his best attire,
As he set his home and shacks afire.
He took a belly full of deathly ale,
Covered himself in earth and wailed.
A cross erect on that Tower line,
In the ghostly silence of a lonely pine.
~ Dee McCullay 2018

Let’s get into the details of Oswald’s Dark History. The articles state the following:

Hurkett Man Digs Grave And Dies In It. Hurkett Man Lies Down in Open Tomb To Take Strychnine. Oswald Mousseau, 60 – Year old Farmer Near Hurkett Makes Dramatic Exit From Life After Setting Fire To His Buildings Investigating Police Find Dead Body in Excavation – Man Had Attired Himself in Best Clothing Before Taking Fatal Dose. ~ Fort William Times Journal

After digging his own grave, Oswald Mousseau, 60, Hurkett farmer, laid himself down uncoffined in the yawning tomb on Tuesday Evening, took a fatal dose of strychnine and died. He previously had attired himself in his best clothes.

The body of the man, lying in the open grave, was found by provincial constables who on Wednesday had gone to the Mousseau farm to investigate a fire which had destroyed the buildings. The bottle which had contained the poison was by the grave, half empty.

Mousseau, after deciding on his dramatic exit from life apparently made full preparations.

Digging of the grave. It is thought first was carried out. He then put on his best clothing and provided himself with the poison. Next he set fire to his shack and outbuildings.

After having seen his homestead denuded of house and stables, the elderly man approached the grave which was not far from the house.

Mousseau. apparently, was not deterred by the gloomy setting of the tragic drama which he had staged. He lowered himself into the grave and then took the fatal dose. A whispering pine, tall and somber, above his grave chanted his requiem.

Provincial Constables H. E. Blair, Nipigon, and J. Higgins, Port Arthur, were horrified when they stumbled across the gruesome open grave with it’s dead occupant. The Police were unable to ascribe a motive for Mousseau’s act.

Despite the carefully thought out suicide plan Mousseau made some mistakes. The grave was three inches too short, and it wasn’t deep enough.

Mousseau, who was a French-Canadian, had lived at Hurkett about 20 years. Police have not been able to locate any relatives. Coroner Dr. Charles Powell investigated, and decided that no inquest was necessary. Upon instructions from the coroner police enlarged the grave and interred Mousseau in the tomb he had chosen.

Fort William Times Journal September 8, 1932


Digs Own Grave; Takes Poison – O. MOUSSEAU, HURKETT MAN, FOUND DEAD – HE DONNED HIS BEAST CLOTHES THE FIRED BUILDINGS – EARTH OVER BODY – Provincial Police Encounter Gruesome Scene on District Farm ~ Port Arthur Chronicle Journal

Oswald Mousseau, 60, homesteader in the Hurkett district for more than twenty years, completed practically all the details necessary except to notify the coroner, when he committed suicide at his farm house about two and a half miles north of Hurkett Tuesday night.

When Provincial Police Constables James Higgins and Harvey Blair arrived at the spot yesterday morning in answer to a call from Hurkett that there had been a fire burning in that vicinity the previous night, the found the small shack and a dog house destroyed by fire and, not far from the smoldering ruins, a neatly dug grave containing the owner of the shack, dressed in his best clothes and partly covered in sand.

Lying near the body was a partly emptied container of strychnine.

Dug Own Grave

Coroner Dr. Charles Powell was immediately notified and the results of his investigation in company with the provincial Police was that the man had died from poisoning, self-administered. The grave in which the body was found was about four feet deep and the body partly covered by earth as though the man had spread it over himself with his hands as much as possible before swallowing the strychnine.

Little was known about Mousseau’s past life except that he was a French-Canadian. He was known to have acted strangely during the past several years, but he had been seen at Hurkett a few days ago.

The burial of Mousseau, started by the homesteader himself, was completed by Provincial Police constables under the supervision of the coroner, in the grave he had himself prepared.

Port Arthur Chronicle Journal September 8, 1932


The story of the man was so bad ass, most people couldn’t fathom the thought of what he did. I believe what drove him to do this was a mental issue, possibly depression and schizophrenia. In any case, I hope the man found the rest and peace he desperately was seeking. A bug thank you goes to Dennis Deccico for dropping into the Brody resource library and digging these up for me.

Also as a side note: Upon walking the property, we found many old remnants strewn about. We can surmise from the finds, that the man was in great pain during his life, and was also addicted to a pain killer that contained opium, as there were many DAVIS bottles lying about.

DAVIS Vegetable Painkiller “Opium” Bottles


Char layer


JW Crooks Drug Co. Port Arthur

Two different pairs of old boots


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