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Manitoulin Island man charged with arson for three fires

A resident of one of the burned out homes, Jesse Goulais, is charged with setting fire to two siblings’ homes
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Editor's note: We have replaced an older version of this Manitoulin Expositor story with one containing the latest information.

WESTERN MANITOULIN – The Manitoulin Detachment of the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) has arrested a Robinson Township man on three charges of arson in relation to two fires that occurred last Friday — one in Gordon/Barrie Island township and a second in Robinson Township, said an article published by the Manitoulin Expositor.

A third charge of arson, damage to property was laid against the accused stemming from a vehicle fire at an abandoned gravel pit in Robinson Township, which was reported to the Manitoulin OPP on Sept. 10, 2019.

Jesse Goulais, a 36-year-old man from Robinson Township, was arrested and charged with two counts of arson under Section 434 of the Criminal Code of Canada by the Manitoulin OPP. 

The accused was in Wiikwemkoong bail court this past Wednesday and his case has been remanded to the Gore Bay court house on Wednesday, March 18. 

One of the two fires that Mr. Goulais has been accused of setting was the home where he and his partner, Daisy Hore, and daughter Autumn had lived in a very rural area, near the eastern boundary of Robinson Township (in Elizabeth Bay). 

The second fire took place on Nelson Road in Gordon Township, at the home owned by Donald Hore, who lived there with his partner Auzza Kay. The couple have been in Toronto for some time now as their newborn son Prince was born premature.

Melody Hore, the mother of both Daisy Hore and Donald Hore, told the Recorder earlier this week (prior to the arrest in this case), “both lost everything in the fires. The only thing good about all of this is that no one was home at either place.” 

She pointed out the house in Elizabeth Bay, which her daughter Daisy and partner Jesse Goulais and daughter Autumn lived in is actually owned by “Daisy’s father-in-law. She doesn’t know if he had insurance on the house.”

“But we know the Kagawong house (owned by Donald Hore and his partner) doesn’t have insurance,” said Melody Hore. “Donald and Auzza have been in Cambridge, as their newborn baby boy, Prince, has been in Mount Sinai Hospital in Toronto. He was born December 15 but was not due until the end of March.”

The baby, “is doing good, he weighs four-and-a-half pounds now.”

The Manitoulin OPP had requested the public’s assistance, specifically if anyone saw anything relating to the two fires.

The OPP reported that on Friday, Feb. 28 at approximately 7:37 pm, officers from the Manitoulin OPP with the assistance of the Robinson Township Fire Department responded to a structure fire on Highway 540 in Robinson Township. Then at 10:35 pm, the Manitoulin OPP, with the assistance of the Gore Bay Fire Department and Billings Township Fire Department, responded to a second structure fire on Nelson Road in Gordon Township. The residences were unoccupied at the time of the fires. The OPP Forensic Identification Services (FIS), the Manitoulin OPP Crime Unit and the Ontario Fire Marshall (OFM) were brought in to conduct an investigation.

A release from the Robinson Township Fire Department explained, “at approximately 6:20 pm on February 28, the Robinson Township Fire Department responded to a report of a fully engulfed house fire in a very rural area near the eastern boundary of Robinson Township. The one pumper and two water tankers that were on scene were hampered by a 1,000-foot snow-covered driveway through dense forest. The structure was fully engulfed and could not be saved.

Adding to the complexity of fighting the fire were numerous propane tanks embedded in the fire and live hydro wires. Hydro One and OPP were notified.”

Doug Wismer, Robinson Township fire chief told the Recorder, “the building was leveled to about four feet high—there were no standing walls left when we got there. It had been burning for quite some time. We couldn’t do anything to save the structure, it was too far gone. It was a nightmare trying to get to the scene from the driveway.”

The home was off Highway 540, having started out originally as a mobile home, with two small additions having been made to it.

The Gore Bay Fire Department was called to the fire at Nelson Road in Gordon Township at about 9:55 pm on February 28. The fire department called the Billings Fire Department for water support.

Duncan Sinclair, deputy fire chief of the Gore Bay Fire Department said when the firefighters arrived at the fire, the home “was fully engulfed, the fire was rolling really strong.” 

It took the firefighters several hours to put out the blaze, and they were back at the Gore Bay Fire Hall at approximately 1:30 am.

Fire Chief Mike Addison said the house was gone when the firefighters arrived and there was no way to save the building. While on scene, the firefighters spotted a number of footprints in the snow around the house. He said they were fresh footprints that led into the home and finding this suspicious, they contacted the OPP, which secured the area.

Melody Hore told the Recorder earlier this week that the Island community has already started to provide support to the families. “They got lots of clothes and things for Daisy and the baby especially. Donald and his family are not here at this time, maybe when get back at the end of March. Donald has an apartment in M’Chigeeng First Nation.” Daisy and her daughter are currently staying at the home of Murray and Melody Hore in Evansville. “It’s going to be a long road back for both families. Especially since both have young ones and having to deal with this.”

A BMO bank account has been set up for the siblings and their families. Donations can be made to bank account number 2342 8975-468 with all money being distributed evenly between Donald and Daisy Hore or e-transferred to nanabell1@hotmail.com. 

A list of needed items has also been made available by the family which includes: toddler girl clothes, 18 months and up; toddler girl shoes; toys for small kids; diapers, size three or four; sippy cups and bottles; women’s size small clothing; men’s size medium to large clothing; infant boy clothing, newborn and up; newborn diapers; baby boy everything (everything was in the fire for the newborn including crib, car seat, etc.); men’s large clothing and women’s size XL and up clothing.