Hundreds gather to honour fallen firefighter

march2.jpg

Hundreds of people – family, friends, local residents and firefighters from across Eastern Ontario – turned out Sunday (June 16) to pay their respects to long-time Deep River firefighter Lindsay Meilleur, who passed away last week at the age of 58.

Following an honour guard procession from the Deep River fire hall, the crowd gathered at the Deep River Arena for a special “celebration of life” memorial service.

Guest speakers included close friends, family, and firefighting colleagues, who paid tribute to Meilleur for his kindness, gentle spirit, dedication to his friends and community, and great love for his family.

The following are remarks by Meilleur’s friend and long-time colleague on the Deep River fire department, retired firefighter Shawn Madore:

Good morning everyone and welcome to this Celebration Of Life.

Let me introduce myself. My name is Shawn Madore and I am here to say a few words on behalf of my colleagues, the Deep River firefighters, in honour of our brother firefighter Lindsay Meilleur.

firefighters - group feb 2014

Lindsay began his career with the department in 1996 and was a member until the time of his passing.

We would like to extend our deepest and most sincere sympathies to his family – his sisters Jackie and Carol Anne, his brothers Glen and Darcy, his daughters Devyn and Morgan ,their mother Laurie and his extended family.

And of course the love of his life Michele, her children Sierra, TJ and Aaron, and their extended family.

We also extend the same condolences to his many, many friends, acquaintances and co-workers.

The loss is profound. His presence irreplaceable.

All of us here knows what a special person Lindsay was. There really is little more I can add to what has already been said by the many people who have made tributes on social media or the online obituary page or by the many people I and we have come across these past days.

Words like “gentleman, friend, one of a kind, gentle giant, lifelong friend, kind soul, to have known him is to have loved him, a loss to the community.”

The list goes on and on. “Loving father.”

Our hearts are broken today for Lindsay’s children, for of all days to be honouring his life after his sudden passing, today is Father’s Day.

To Devyn and Morgan, your Dad spoke about you often and with pride.

Devyn, we heard many times of your gymnastics and schooling excellence.

Morgan, you were your father’s baby girl. You are just beginning your post-secondary education and there is no doubt you will excel.

I remember when you went to school for the first time on the school bus, your Dad was working dayshift at the fire hall and he asked me to come in for a bit, to cover for him, so he could be there when you got on the bus.

You both were your father’s whole world.

We hope and wish that someday when the sorrow lessens, perhaps on a future Father’s Day, you will think of today with gigantic smiles knowing that in your hometown the community and beyond came together to witness and participate in honouring your father’s life and service to his fellow citizens.

Personally, I cannot remember a time when I didn’t know Lindsay.

I spent a lot of time in the Swisha when I was young, always with cousins, always with other kids from the village. Lindsay was always there with us.

Later on in life, after I had been a member of our fire department for a few years, I was very happy to know he would be joining the department.

Lindsay wore his uniform with pride. He studied the various aspects of emergency response constantly and would always be asking questions and reviewing the equipment to be sure to be as effective as possible when a call came in and someone needed help.

He gave his all at every incident he attended, even to the detriment of his health.

He would strive to be the best.

“S’efforcer d’etre le meilleur” is the French translation for strive to be the best.

One night, he, along with the rest of our department was called out to attend a request for mutual aid from Laurentian Hills Fire Department.

Little did he know how personal the call would be to him. The Byeways was on fire!

Now, I did not attend the scene, I stayed at the Deep River station to cover, but I heard rumours of unconfirmed reports that upon arrival, Lindsay immediately made entry into the burning building and single-handedly saved two kegs and a six pack!

Humour was his hallmark. As was storytelling.

You had to listen fast! Usually by the time the first 20 minutes had passed after coming in for a shift, we had already been on the railroad through one of his tales.

Buster the beagle was mentioned almost as much as his girls. It was as though he was was their unofficial little brother!

We were a group that were together for so long at our fire department and we knew each other so well that we knew what to expect of each other at emergencies.

We had each other’s backs. We depended on each other.

The group is no longer complete. It breaks our hearts.

So with the hope that somehow, someway, Lindsay can know this, can hear this, we say:

Firefighter First Class Lindsay Meilleur, your fellow firefighters love you and from the moment we each learned of your passing we have been missing you.

And finally to the next generation of Deep River firefighters and our newly qualified volunteers: Follow Lindsay’s example – “s’efforcer d’etre le meilleur.”

Strive to be the best. Thank you.

[Photos: top, firefighters from across the region joined in an honour guard procession from the Deep River fire hall to the Deep River Arena as hundreds gathered to attend a “celebration of life” memorial service for Lindsay Meilleur. Group photo, Lindsay Meilleur (centre back) poses with members of the Deep River Fire Department in a file photo from February 2014.]

> reprinted from the North Renfrew Times, June 19, 2019