Albert Guay Affair

On this date in 1951, Albert Guay was hanged in Canada for one of the earliest commercial airline attacks — bombing a Canadian Pacific Airline flight to murder his wife.

Stuck in a loveless marriage with little recourse to divorce, Guay’s loins burned for a young mistress.

He engaged a watchmaker colleague, Généreux Ruest, to make a bomb, and the latter’s sister, Marguerite Ruest-Pitre, to air freight it on the doomed plane. Both would maintain their innocence of the plot, but after Guay’s own conviction, he implicated both — possibly in an attempt to delay his own hanging.

It did not take long for authorities to ascertain that the explosion was the result of a time bomb in the forward luggage compartment, making the crash of the DC-3 the third episode of in-flight terrorism in the world, and the deadliest at the time.

The investigation centred on three people: Albert Guay, husband of Rita Guay, a passenger on the airplane, Marguerite Pitre of Quebec City, and Genereux Ruest, an employee and friend of Albert Guay. Guay had met Rita, nee Morel, during World War II when both were working at Canadian Arsenals Limited in St. Malo, Quebec. They were married, and Guay opened a jewelry shop after the war ended. Though neighbours and acquaintances stated that Alberta made a show of embracing Rita in public, the marriage was not a happy one and things only got worse after their only child was born. Albert was jealous and possessive, in debt, and struggling to keep the jewelry business afloat.

Joseph Albert Guay was the youngest of five children and extremely spoiled. As a young man, he sold watches and jewelry on commission and, when World War II broke out, he got a job at Canadian Arsenals Limited at St. Malo. There he met his wife, Rita Morel. The arsenal closed in 1945 and Guay opened a jewelry and watch repair shop.

Albert and Rita fought often, particularly after the birth of their first and only child. He was jealous and possessive, his business wasn't going well, and debts were piling up. Then Guay met 17-year-old Marie-Ange Robitaille.

They began dating, Guay using the assumed name of Roger Angers, and eventually he bought her an engagement ring. When Rita found out, she confronted the pair in the Robitailles' living room. Guay took Marie-Ange to Sept-Iles where they lived together for a time but the young girl finally left him, citing his marriage as the reason.

The aeroplane was a Canadian Pacific Airlines DC-3 aircraft (registry CF-CUA S/N: 4518) flying from Montreal to Baie-Comeau with a stopover at L'Ancienne-Lorette, a suburb of Quebec City; it was at Quebec City that Rita Morel (Mme Guay) and the bomb boarded the plane.

The bomb was made of dynamite attached to an alarm clock and secreted in the baggage of Rita Guay. It exploded near a small locality named Sault-au-Cochon (sometimes incorrectly given as "Sault-aux-Cochons"), near Saint-Joachim in the Charlevoix region, causing the plane to crash and killing all four crew members and nineteen passengers. The flight was delayed five minutes at takeoff; this apparently thwarted Guay's desire to have the explosion take place over the Saint Lawrence River, which would have made forensic examination of the crash impossible with the technology then available to forensic scientists. Apart from Rita Morel Guay, the victims included four children and three American executives from the Kennecott Copper Corporation including the retiring president, his designated successor, Arthur D. Storke, and R.J. Parker, a vice-president.