The community has a rich history of true crime cases, largely due to the large gaol and RCMP presence that occupied the area for so long. 

Perhaps the most famous of those cases was that of Robert Raymond Cook, a mass murderer known for being the last man ever hanged in Alberta. 

Alex King, with the Fort Heritage Precinct, has been doing extensive research on the case. 

"He was hanged in 1960 for the murder of his father, although he is thought to have murdered his entire family," said King. 

Cook was only 25 when he was executed in Fort Saskatchewan and it was the end to a somewhat tragic and turbulent life. 

Born in Hanna, Alberta in 1937, Cook lost his mother at the age of 9 and lived with his father and stepmother. 

"Cook had a history of childhood delinquency, having begun stealing cars as young as 10 years old," said King. "There was a joke around his hometown of Hanna that if you saw a car driving with no one in it, it was probably “Bobbie” who was too short to see over the steering wheel." 

The family moved to Stettler shortly after the death of his mother and his father's marriage to his stepmother. Perhaps the thought was that moving to a new community would somehow quell Cook's criminal tendencies, but that certainly was not the case. 

"While employed at a garage in Stettler in 1957 he would steal cars that had been brought to the shop for maintenance and drive them to different towns to commit break-ins," said King. 

During one of these stints in prison, Cook had messed around with the wrong inmate and suffered some pretty brutal consequences. 

"Cook was struck over the head with a lead pipe by a fellow inmate he had been having trouble with," said King. "He received 28 stitches on his forehead and spent several weeks in the infirmary." 

The doctor who was presiding over Cook for these injuries claimed that he thought that he suffered from something called 'epileptic automatism' which is described as a state of 'clouded consciousness' that can happen after suffering from a seizure. 

"The doctor suggested that this state may mean that Cook could commit acts of violence without a clear memory of them," said King. "He also stated that Cook had likely experienced this prior to his head injury."

"After this injury, several other inmates and guards claimed that Cook was much more prone to violent outbursts."

The incident happened shortly before he was released and then subsequently arrested for the murder of his father. 

"The families were discovered in the summer of 1959 having been placed in the grease pit of the garage," said King. "They only ever charged him for the murder of his father because he hadn't been getting along with his stepmother and they thought that was motive enough." 

Cook tried to fight the allegations, giving an alibi that claimed he was robbing a laundromat at the time of the murders, but that wasn't enough to convince authorities. 

"He didn't have a very good alibi, was seen in Stettler the day of, and he lied frequently to the police," said King. 

After receiving a guilty verdict, Cook was sent to the Ponoka Mental Institution for psychological evaluation but broke out after 10 days in the hospital. 

People who attended the Fort Heritage Precinct's event on Cook last month actually remember being in the area when this happened. 

"We had a lot of people who actually remembered the case and were able to tell personal stories," said King. "There were people there who remembered hearing on the news about a mass murderer on the loose in the province." 

Cook's last stand came in November of 1960 when he was hung at the Fort Saskatchewan Gaol, becoming the last man to ever face capital punishment in Alberta. 

Before he was hung, Cook wrote a poem and gave it to one of the witnesses of the execution. In it, Cook pleaded his innocence and described why he felt the need to escape the hospital. 

It reads: 

"Sitting here, my heart in despair/proven innocent, juried guilty – it just isn’t fair/I sent for my lawyer, he just shook his head/No! No! He said/Justice will come long after you’re dead.

know I am not guilty, but what can I do/The jury they just guessed that crime I did do/I escaped, my loved ones’ funeral to attend/sealing my own fate in the end.

If they went to heaven, that wonderful place/Then I’ll soon be there, it’s never too late for grace.

Out under the stars, cool breeze in leafy bower/Through bars in my death cell, a moon beam shower/Each beam like a tear from my sweet heart so dear/But look up honey, have no fear/the higher judge sees it clear.

Take caution my friends, if circumstances induce/The jury can guess you right into a noose.

They’ll measure me, they’ll weigh me, they’ll put a black hood on my head/Then they’ll pull that lever and I’ll soon be dead.

You people of the world, take note/The innocent do die at the end of a rope.”

Theories surrounding why Cook murdered his family are debated even today. While the official motive is that he did not get along with them, King and others at the Fort Heritage Precinct wonder if his prior injury in prison caused memory loss and influenced Cook's plea of innocence. 

"A lot of us here were thinking it seemed like he's guilty but there's such a question of whether he knows he's guilty or not." 

No matter the truth surrounding the murders, it is nonetheless another fascinating chapter in the history of Fort Saskatchewan.