Gilles Cousineau

Oh as I was young and easy in the mercy of his means,
Time held me green and dying
Though I sang in my chains like the sea.

Fern Hill by Dylan Thomas

We were both in bed when the telephone rang.  I keep my phone on the nightstand by the bed. It wasn’t my phone.  Denis awoke.  I said, “Your phone is ringing!”  He unravelled the bedclothes, struggled to collect the phone and mutely answered.  Gilles was dead.  Scott was on his way to the hospital to say his last goodbye.  Apparently Gilles’ pneumonia combined with a stomach upset to hasten his end.

Gilles and Scott knew a lot of the “right” people.  They were entertainment stars in Toronto. Others were attracted to them both for their vivacity and gastronomic talents. We had the inexpressible privilege to attend their wedding at Casa Loma years ago. Afterwards we celebrated the event by dining at a local restaurant in a trendy area of Toronto nearby where they lived. It was always a celebration with them.

Years before we spent a weekend with them at a cottage in the Muskoka Lakes area. We plucked fresh vegetables from the garden. The food was marvellous.  There was endless wine. A similar ceremony – this time along a quiet sandy road abutting Lake Ontario – was enacted on another occasion.

But the communion I recall most vividly – no doubt because of the huge martinis and giant green olives – was a dinner at La Sociéte in the Colonnade on Bloor St W when I attended a law thing at Osgoode Hall. I am certain Gilles and Scott chose the restaurant. The four of us sat at a large round table with booth seating on the inner side and regular chairs on the outside. The waiter was animated by our evident collective spirit.  It was a magical evening I shall never forget. There were oysters, steak tartare and a lot of laughs!

La Société is a restaurant located on the Mink Mile on Bloor Street, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

Denis travelled with Gilles and Scott to Recife in Brazil years before I had met any of them. My first encounter with Gilles and Scott was at a dinner with Gilles’ mother at a lovely restaurant in Hull, PQ.  The next was at Gilles’ mother’s funeral, a moving service followed by Sarah Brightman’s solo performance of “Time to Say Goodbye”.