(Orillia) Close friends and family of Gordon Lightfoot gathered Monday for a private funeral at a church in Orillia, Ont., where the famous Canadian folk singer had once served as an altar boy.
About fifty people gathered in strict privacy at Saint Paul’s United Church for a ceremony lasting nearly two hours, from which we could hear a choir accompanied by an organ.
The legendary Canadian folk singer died on May 1, at the age of 84, of natural causes in a Toronto hospital.
Monday, on a beautiful sunny spring day, the residents of the community of Orillia went about their daily routine, while a few curious people strolled in front of the church.
A neighbor had set up a lawn chair in front of his house in case Canadian music celebrities stopped by – Joni Mitchell or Neil Young, perhaps?
But there were no sightings of those celebrities Monday in Orillia. Most of the people seen outside the church appeared to be members of Gordon Lightfoot’s extended family, fellow musicians and others who worked with him over a long career spanning 60 years. ‘years.
Once the ceremony was over, the coffin was loaded into a hearse and left the church. Gordon Lightfoot was to be buried alongside his parents at St. Andrew and St. James Cemetery in Orillia.
On Sunday, more than 2,400 fans came to pay their last respects to legendary folk singer-songwriter Gordon Lightfoot.
In the pouring rain, the line stretched to the sidewalk in front of St. Paul’s Church in Orillia, Ont., to gather near the coffin.
Inside, each person had a moment with this Canadian music legend. The coffin, closed, was adorned with a large bouquet of red roses, as well as a single rose.
Inside the bouquet is a handwritten card from his widow, Kim Lightfoot. It read: “The treasure of my heart”. For the first hour, Ms. Lightfoot greeted visitors near where they entered the building.
Throughout the Lying Chapel, which ran until 8 p.m. Sunday, songs by Lightfoot played over the loudspeakers.
Steve Porter and his wife, Diane Porter, were among the first people in line outside the church at 10:30 a.m., two and a half hours before the doors opened. Not knowing how big the crowd would be, they wanted to be there early.
“I’m here on behalf of all my family and my ancestors who are gone but loved him very much,” he said.
Myeengun Henry, meanwhile, came from the Chippewas of the Thames First Nation near London, Ont., with a gift in honor of Lightfoot. He also carried an eagle feather in his hand, which he said was a symbolic gesture of the highest-flying bird.
“He’s a bird that can see very far and that reminds me of Gord,” he mentioned.
“He could see things other people couldn’t see. I have a lot of respect for his legacy. »
Throughout the weekend, restaurants, bars and other businesses followed suit to pay tribute to their local hero.
Lightfoot bassist Rick Haynes, who worked with the musician for 55 years, acknowledged that visitors’ emotions “mean a lot to the family and a lot to me personally.”
“I think he would be very honored, because he loved the community and he loved his fans,” he noted inside the church.
“Gordon was the best. There are a lot of great songwriters out there, I don’t think any of them are better than Gordon. »
At 2 p.m., the bells of St. Paul’s Church rang 30 times: 29 for the crew of the Edmund Fitzgerald and once in honor of Lightfoot. It was one of many tributes paid to Lightfoot in Orillia since his death on May 1.
On Saturday, a concert that was already planned as a tribute to his career turned into a celebration of his life and career.