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Virtual Exhibits

LASA's Virtual Museum provides on-line access to a series of interpretive exhibits, images and sound recording material from lawyers, law firms, judges and legal organizations in Alberta. The Virtual Museum provides a look into the evolution of the legal profession and the justice system in Alberta.

Law Society of Alberta Centennial 1907-2007

As the Law Society of Alberta celebrates its centennial, it salutes the pioneers, philosophers, soldiers, educators and raconteurs who helped shape the province through a common bond – love of the law. Alberta lawyers have lived it all in pursuit of their craft, from frontier privations, to the heady days of the oil boom. With the birth in 1907 of the Law Society of Alberta (LSA), lawyers became members of an extended family – often quarrelsome and jealous, yet equally embracing and nurturing.


Explore a visual display featuring highlights from the first 10 decades of Law in Alberta by clicking on one of the links below.

  

1907

      In the Beginning...

  

1918

      Taming the West...

  

1928

      The Dirty Thirties...

  

1938

      The War Years...

  

1948

      Setting Precedent...

  

1958

      Progressive Change...

  

1968

      Civil Liberties...

  

1978

      Charting a Course...

  

1988

   Supreme Appointments...

  

1998

      Rising Stars...

  

1988

      Exhibit Credits

R. vs. Robert Raymond Cook

Alberta's most infamous murder trial

In June 1959, the bodies of seven people were discovered by RCMP officers at the Cook family home in Stettler, Alberta. It was not long before Robert Raymond Cook, 21, was charged with the murder of his father and six other family members. The documents exhibited here are from the files of Cook's defence lawyer, David P. MacNaughton, of Stettler.

Click on icon below to explore this infamous trial

Cook Trial Collage

  • Cook House
    The Cook family home in Stettler where the bodies were found. Robert Raymond Cook was charged with the murder of his father and six other family members.
  • Cook Gun

    A stained white shirt and a shotgun were found at the scene of the crime.

    The shirt had a laundry mark and the mysterious name “ROSS” marked on it. RCMP investigators made inquiries at various laundries in Stettler, Red Deer and Edmonton to try and identify the owner of the shirt but were unsuccessful.

    Defence counsel ran a photo of the shotgun in local newspapers in the hope that someone would recognize it and come forward with more information. The RCMP did not receive a response.

  • Cook Dog
    The Search

    Cook was sent to the Ponoka Mental Hospital for psychiatric evaluation but escaped on July 11th. He stole a car and was chased by police. The car rolled but Cook got away on foot.

    The Capture

    On July 13th, 1959 Cook was finally recaptured at a farm near Bashaw. He gave up without a struggle.

  • Letter

    Cook sent a letter dated October 5,1959 to his lawyer Gifford Main stating in part:"I have some information that I did not want to give out before on where and what I was doing on the thursday {sic} night."

    Cook claimed that he was involved in a 'break and enter' at Cosmo Cleaners at the time the murders took place. One of his accomplices was Albert Victor "Sonny" Wilson.

    In this letter David Naughton asks Saskatchewan lawyer Clyne Harradence to question Wilson about his whereabouts. Wilson being held at the Prince Albert Penitentiary.

  • Cook Shoes
    The Defence

    Gifford Main, Q.C. was the lead defence counsel an the Cook case. He suffered a mild heart attack in October 1959 and the case fell to his partners Frank Dunne and David MacNaughton. In a letter to MacNaughton, Cook wishes Main a speedy “recovery”. He also goes on to say, “I know I am innocent and not capable of killing anybody, it’s just something I couldn’t do. I couldn’t hit a person I even disliked with boxing gloves on when I had him helpless on the ropes.”

    The Trial

    The first trial began November 30, 1959 before Justice Peter Greschuk at the Courthouse in Red Deer. Cook was convicted. The defence appealed and the second trial was held in Edmonton before Justice Harold Riley on June 20, 1960. The conviction was upheld. MacNaughton and Dunne next went to the Supreme Court of Canada but were granted no appeal. In a letter dated September 7, 1960 Cook still has hope. “It is reassuring to know we have another possibilty in the Spreme {sic} Court of Canada.”

    Robert Raymond Cook was charged and convicted for the murder of his father Ray, but all seven members of the family were murdered: Ray; Ray’s wife Daisy and their five children ranging in age from three to nine years old.
  • Poem

    The execution was scheduled for November 15, 1960. Letters sent to the Solicitor general of Canada and Prime Minister John G. Diefenbaker requesting that the sentence be commuted. David MacNaughton received a telegraph on November 14 stating that the Governor General would not interfer with the sentence.

    On 15 November 1960, Robert Raymond Cook became the last man to be hanged in Alberta.