Remembering Gaston Lascelle

Create: 12/01/2015 - 19:39

A lot of good things have happened to me over the past 14 years.
When I first met my best friend Mike, he introduced me to a life of sobriety. My time before this was difficult. Now that I think back on it, I was numb all the time and I felt disconnected. I had always promised myself that I would not fall into a life of addictions but I just didn’t know how to do it.
I have a lot of great family and friends and I had a good life as a child. However, most of my memories have to do with alcohol and drugs.
Many people have been helpful on my road to recovery from addictions. This week, I lost one of them.
When I first came to live in Iroquois Falls with Mike and his mom Emily, I was introduced to Gaston and Viv Lascelle, who lived next door. Mike wanted me to meet his old neighbour right away and for good reason.
Gaston or ‘Tots’ as everyone called him was one of those amazing people that did not judge and he lived every day with a lot of humour. He was larger than life.
He grew up in the ‘40s and ‘50s. He was often politically incorrect but he was kind and good-natured, so none of that mattered. If I needed to know something about my motorcycle or a job I was doing around the house, I could always go to Gaston. He seemed to know a lot about so many things and he was always quick to share his knowledge.
He loved to ride his motorcycle and according to my friend Mike, in the ‘50s, he was the spitting image of Marlon Brando on his Electra Glide Harley Davidson replete with leather jacket and captain’s hat.
Gaston seemed like an ordinary person in town but he was far from it. He was an adventurer and he had been to many places in Canada and the United States. I met him after he had raised all his kids and had gone back to motorcycling. He was still hanging out with a lot of his old bike buddies and a whole new generation of motorcycle riders.
He must have been a rebel when he was a kid.
He was also one of the first certified divers in the North and he helped the Ontario Provincial Police train and form their diving teams. Police often called upon him to assist in searches. And he was an avid hunter and fisherman.
He often mused that he might have some Apache blood, but I was sure it had to be Cree or Ojibway blood.
He loved western and war movies and he was as good as an encyclopedia when it came to knowing the history of the Second World War. He was also one of the best gunsmiths in the North.
He had a collection of guns that was incredible and even featured a Colt 45, made famous by the old west.
Gaston loved to decorate his vehicles. His bike looked like a Christmas tree lit with all kinds of lights and adorned with bumper stickers. He also had pictures of his entire family on the bike’s instrument console.
His good humour carried over to his trucks. When I first met him he had an old Dodge that he had hand painted to resemble Garfield the cat. He rode that old jalopy everywhere.
I could find him most of the time in his garage with his radio blaring country hits like Johnny Cash’s Ring Of Fire.
He worked for the Abitibi paper company most of his life.
He was also the perfect example of francophone culture in northern Ontario. He spoke English and French.
He loved Halloween. One year he even dressed up to like an Apache.
So many good people have done a lot of wonderful things that have contributed to making my struggle with addictions easier to overcome. Gaston Lascelle was one of those people. Meegwetch Gaston.