By Rose Simpson
The French media in the Parliamentary Press Gallery have always been divided into two groups: the cool hotties and nerdy separatists with comb-overs.
Yves Bellavance belonged in the first category. Yves was a handsome perpetually mirthful cut-up. I don’t know what his politics were, and he wasn’t the kind of guy you’d ask about that kind of thing. Mostly, you’d ask him for a smoke or maybe a joint. I asked Scott about him yesterday, when I learned he’d died from a horrific, fast-moving cancer, and Scott said Yves was the life of the political tour bus, the kind of guy you wanted to have riding along with you on the back trails of La Belle Province, popping cans of beer.
The first time I saw Yves, he was Rene Levesque. Wearing a powdered wig, dragging a smoke, he appeared on stage as part of the Parliamentary Press Gallery Dinner Show. He was hilarious.
The next time I saw Yves, he was drumming with the Bad News Band, Gord Lovelace’s excuse for a band which eerily resembled the Dave Barry and Stephen King writer’s band, The Rock Bottom Remainders. The guys played regularly over the years at the National Press Club; they were great not because of their songstylings, but because they had heart. And heart was what Yves had in buckets.
A few months back, Yves felt funny and went to the doctor for a strange infection on his elbow. It got worse, not better, and then he had trouble breathing. Tests found his body was full of an aggressive cancer — who cares what kind — and doctors told Yves he had weeks to live.
Instead of seeking crazy Farrah Fawcett last-chance treatment, Yves decided to embark on a farewell tour, greeting friends from across the country, drinking beer, doing other nasty stuff, and giving himself an extended wake. Lovelace told me that when he visited Yves a few weeks back, he had expected to see a man hooked up to machines in a palliative bed. Instead, he opened the door and a familiar aroma greeted him. Gord and Yves shared smokes and beer.
Yves had just enough time to do a gag reel for his memorial, which no doubt would keep people in stitches when the time came.
Which was yesterday.
Lovelace sent the sad note that Yves Bellavance had died, hours after telling his son he wasn’t feeling well. He was scheduled to go into hospice this week, but I guess that wasn’t in the cards for the 58-year-old. He died instead on his own terms, something many of us wish we could do.
Yves Bellavance was a true original. Like Bruce Garvey and Gord Grant whom we’ve lost over the last year, he managed put his lips to the world and blow.