FULL TEXT: Montreal, Feb. 22. – Accused of marrying five men
here in the last 10 years, and of drawing Army separation pay for three of
them, Irene Muriel Vivian Hornsby, 26, pleaded guilty today to one charge of
Judge J. A. Metayder set February 25 as the date of sentence
and remanded the woman to detective headquarters until that time.
The charge to which the woman pleaded guilty was one made by
her latest husband, Peter Paulluck, to whom she was married in 1941 at St.
James the Apostle Church. Her other alleged marriages were: 1932, to Leslie
Booker, at Christ Church Cathedral; 1937, to Charles Goslin, at Fairmount St.
Giles’ Church; 1939, to Raymond S. Vantassel, at Calvary United Church; 1940,
to Cecil W. Dashley, at St. George’s Church.
The woman was arraigned on Saturday on a charge of being in
possession of a false National Registration card and will face trial on that
count next Thursday.
Revelation of the multiple marriage, police say, followed an
investigation of a number of cases involving women who drew more than one
separation allowance from the Department of National Defence.
[“Charge Montrealer Has Five Husbands,” The Journal (Ontario,
Canada), Feb. 22, 1943, p. 1]
FULL TEXT: OTTAWA, March 6. – The case of Irene Hornby, the
blue-eyed Montreal girl who took unto herself five husbands, is just one more
symptom of the monumental headache which members of the Dependents Allowance
Board feel coming on.
Irene’s case is without precedent. Her husbands included two
civilians and three soldiers. She claimed a wife’s dependent allowance for each
of the soldiers.
But after three years of caring financially for the folks
left behind by Canada’s fighting men, the board members, who thought it would
be a routine job, have come up against such spectacular evidences of human
frailty that they probably can shrug off the case of the lady bigamist.
Although Irene, who had two husbands before the war started,
is still on their collective minds, they are more concerned with Canadian
soldiers garrisoned in England, who, forgetting the wives they left behind
them, are gaily taking British girls to wife. The British wives are, of course,
clamoring for dependents’ allowances.
~ Board Finds 150 Busy Bigamists ~
The board was planned some months prior to the outbreak of
the war in 1939. Neither Col. S. H. Hill, the organizer and original chairman,
nor R. O. G. Bennett, his successor as chairman, visioned the trouble which was
At the outset the board had a dozen members. As the three
armed services were built up, the staff increased to 1,200. Now the board is
paying claims for 441,666 men in the Army, Navy and Air Forces. Many of these
are routine, but some are little honeys. About 150 bigamists have been nailed.
For example, staff members are now concerned with the case
of a soldier who was formerly a hard-rock miner from one of the gold camps in
the Northern Ontario bush country.
He had a wife in Poland but left her behind when he came out
to Canada years ago. When he became prosperous as a gold miner, making around
$10 a day, he took a second wife, neglecting to shed the first. After
enlisting, he acquired a common-law wife in Southern Ontario, and after going
overseas to Britain, married for a third time.
Authorities caught up with him when his wife in Northern
Ontario, the common-law wife in Southern Ontario, and Wife No. 3 in England all
claimed dependent allowances. The board still has to determine how many
children there are of these various matches.
IRENE’S problems (all male) are something else again.
She was born in England. Her mother and her father, a prison
warden at Wormwood Scrubbs, separated. Irene was sent to live with her
grandmother on a farm in Leicester.
Eventually her mother married again. The second husband’s
name was Hornby, a name Irene found convenient upon later occasions.
At 15, while visiting her mother in London, she took
domestic employment with an American family who brought her to Rochester, N. Y.
That was in 1930.
After some nine months in their service, she left and
entered Canada without any official papers. She had a special talent for cooking
and worked in several Eastern Canadian cities as a domestic.
In 1932, in Montreal, she met Leslie Booker, destined to be
the first of her string of husband.
He was a blonde, good-looking Englishman, well educated and
of good family. Irene thought she had caught a prize when they were married in
Christ Church Cathedral. But Leslie, says she, was an elbow-bender.
Marriage with Leslie was difficult. Irene remembers. After a
while they separated. She went back to her work as a domestic.
In October, 1937, without bene fit of divorce, Irene walked
down the aisle of Fairmont St. Giles Church with Charles Gosselin. Her name on
the marriage certificate was Irene Draper.
Charles, a Catholic, was under age at the time of the
wedding. His father, a doctor with whom Charles lived, had the marriage
annulled promptly. When war was declared Charles joined the Royal Canadian Air
Force. He is now overseas.
BY March, 1939, Irene was living in a boarding house in
down- own Montreal. The next apartment was shared by two young men, Raymond Van
Tassell and Louis Pottle. One night the janitor informed them that the tenant
in the next apartment was complaining about their radio being too loud.
Raymond, then only about 19, went to apologize. He met
For the next week he could think of nothing but Irene. In
the course of the quick friendship there was talk of marriage. Raymond said it
was impossible because he didn’t have steady work at the time. Irene said that
didn’t matter because she could earn enough for both until he got settled.
So on March 15, 1939, with Pottle as best man, Irene and
Raymond were married at Calvary United Church.
Irene claims today that Raymond is the one person she really
loves and always will love. But the green-eyed monster crept into their life.
She was jealous of him he of her. They quarreled constantly. They parted
several times, then got together again. Then, during one of their separations,
Van Tas sell enlisted (representing himself as single) in an anti-tank
Irene made a little hay while the sun was shining.
She and Raymond had known Cecil Dash, who worked on a farm
outside Montreal and came to town only twice a week. Cecil had no inkling that
Irene and Raymond were husband and wife. So, after he was called into the Army,
Cecil proposed to Irene who accepted him gladly. On the certificate she called
herself “Irene Muriel Vivien Booker.” They were married at St. George’s (Church
of England) on July 29, 1940. Cecil went overseas immediately afterward.
Raymond, still in this country began to hanker for Irene.
Not knowing where to find her, he went to the apartment building where they had
first met to visit Miss Alida May Gaudrie, a little old lady who had looked
after the apartment he shared with Pottle.
He came across Irene’s name on one of the apartment doors
and immediately knocked.
They were delighted to see each other and the reconciliation
was just about complete when Raymond found an allowance check sent to Irene as
the “wife of Pvt. Cecil Dash” by the Dependents Allowance Board. Irene says
Raymond, in a fury, destroyed the check and rushed out of the apartment. She
never saw him again.
Then Irene remembered Peter Pawliuk, a Canadian born of
Ukrainian parents. She had met him on a blind date two years- before. She
looked him up and in no time the wedding bells at the St. James Church of the
Apostle were ringing for “Irene Vivien Dashley” and Peter Pawliuk. They were
married on April 6, 1941.
Peter had a lot to learn about marriage and he learned it
rapidly. He wasn’t making very much money then about $16 a week. He turned it over
to Irene, he says, keeping just enough for carfare, tobacco and other
necessities of a wage earner.
He says – and she denies it – that she failed to pay the
rent and other bills out of the money; that she lied to him about everything
and that she didn’t like his friends and did her best to keep them from him.
However, Peter, now 24, was very much in love and eager to make allowances.
Then Peter got a new and better job in a munitions plant. His
wage was $35 a week, sometimes more.
BUT Irene was restless. She asked Peter for permission to
work in a theater as an usher. To please her he acquiesced.
He discovered that when he went to call for her occasionally
after work her new friends thought he was her brother! After a while Peter was
shifted to night work at the plant. Often while he was at home during the day
there would be phone calls from men and women for “Miss Pawliuk.”
In time Irene left him. She went off to share a room with
another girl. He found her and persuaded her to return. But the old irritations
continued. Then he began to get reports. His brother saw her at a movie one
night with a soldier, and the next with a sailor, postcards from service men in
Halifax began to come in to “Miss Pawliuk.” Peter never seemed able to get at
Suspicions that his wife was a bigamist were slowly dawning.
When she left-him again he decided to look for confirmation of his belief and,
if necessary, bring her to justice.
Unknown to Peter, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, at the
behest of the Dependents Allowance Board, were hot on her trail.
The board members had heard of Irene just after Raymond Van
Tassell found the allowance check made out to the wife of Pvt. Cecil Dash.
As soon as they discovered that she had two soldiers and two
civilians as husbands (that was before she married Pawliuk) they quietly turned
the case over to the police to investigate the loves and financial status of
the lady concerned.
Board Is Delighted Irene Is Unique
On the morning of Feb. 18, Det. Sergts. Leon Gauthier, H.
Guilham and J. A. Roy caught up with Irene in an apartment in company with a
slender middle-aged man. Irene was arrested on a bigamy charge.
THUS the members of the Dependents Allowance Board, with
Peter’s unwitting aid, cleared up one of the numerous cases that plagued them.
“Our files,” says Chairman Bennett of the Dependents’ Board,
“show Irene Hornby to bt unique. And thank God for that. True, there have been
women who have married two husbands, even three, or maybe four but never five!’’
He admits, however, that the board still has plenty of woe
arising from marital mixups. This grief has not been minimized by the
regulations governing dependent pay.
A private in the Canadian Army is allowed $35 monthly for
his wife, $12 for each of the first two children, $10 for the third, and $8
each for the fourth, fifth and sixth. The board’s imagination boggles at any
private who has more children than that.
In addition, the private may claim state support of $25
monthly for either a dependent father or mother. He may also demand, and
receive, an allowance of $35 monthly for a divorced or common-law wife,
Just as rigid are the regulations governing allowances for
divorcees. On a court order for alimony the divorced or separated soldier may
claim $35 monthly for his ex-wife or for the mate from whom he is parted.
Another of those bigamy- in-England problems which keep the
board members tearing their hair is one perpetrated by an Army officer. While
on embarkation leave he married an Ottawa domestic servant.
In England he married a second time and that time he married
“well.” Meanwhile the wife in Ottawa became a mother.
When the child in Canada was seven months old, the
officer-husband wrote asking its mother for a divorce. She consented. But sha
got a court order for alimony. So now the Dependents Allowance Board has both
current and ex-wife to deal with.
The Canadian officer with the largest number of dependents
is Air Vice Marshal Joseph Lionel Ephege de Niverville, head of No. 3 Training
Command with headquarters at Montreal. He’s in his late 40’3 and has a wife and
13 children. Of course he doesn’t get allowances for all of them, but he pays
no income tax on his salary of $24 a day.
[Arthur Watson, “Soldiers Marry Easy; Canada Has a Pain
Paying Off Dependents, Legal and Illegal,” Sunday News (New York, N. Y.), Mar.
7, 1943, p. 66]
SEE: [Geraldine Smith, “Mother-In-Law As Informer,” The
Everyday Magazine (St. Louis Post-Dispatch, (Mo.)), Mar. 18, 1945, p. 4]