Roy McFarlane

Memorial and Tribute

Roy McFarlane, May 11, 2001
Photo taken May 11, 2001.

Guest Book

Rest in Peace, Roy McFarlane
December 20, 1955 to May 14, 2001

Roy will always be remembered, fondly.

He had so many special qualities, admired by all. He was a warm, caring and generous individual, as quick to help a friend, as to work for a better society. He was never too busy to lend an ear or help out. Many a time, Roy helped me through a difficult situation. Always patient and wise. He had a playful manner, and loved living. He led a rich and hopeful life until the moment he died.

I never heard anyone say anything about Roy that wasn't nice. He was so friendly and giving to everyone he met. I always admired his cool head and easygoing, jovial manner. I wish to be as gentle and peaceful as he.

In his short 45 years, Roy made a tremendous difference to his community, and those around him, even to those who barely knew him, and some he never met.

I met Roy 20 years ago at Operation Dismantle, then Canada's largest peace organization. WIthout pay, he worked day and night for world peace-- a task he continued in recent years as a Director of the Victoria Peace Centre.

Roy worked in and managed many bookstores in his career-- in Victoria, Vancouver, Ottawa, Toronto and Montréal. He cared passionately for the written and spoken word, and established a very successful weekly poetry series in Victoria, "Sundays at the JBI". His hard work led to a Canada Council grant, which will help the series expand this fall, now under the direction of his friends. Sadly he did not live to hear the good news of his Canada Council Grant. Unfortunately, he will not have the opportunity to become a full-time arts promoter, as he was working towards.

Roy McFarlane was active in several election campaigns over the years, both with the NDP and Green parties. In Victoria, he very successfully managed the Green's campaign for Victoria-Beacon Hill during the recent provincial election, even while holding down a full-time job at Munro's Books. Over 20% of people in his riding voted Green. Perhaps the largest Green vote anywhere, ever, in Canada.Roy McFarlane on Monday Magazine cover

He was concerned about environmental degradation, and put his hands where his heart was. In Victoria, Roy was active on the pesticides front-- working to stop aerial and lawn spraying. Many will also remember his wonderful organizing of several of Victoria's finest Earth Walk celebrations.

Roy was a deeply spiritual person, and accepted death as part of life. Roy did not fear death, and believed that his spirit would continue on its long journey after he passed away.

I miss Roy dearly, as I am sure do many of you. He was a great friend, and a tireless worker for a better world.

His loss is our loss. The world is poorer today.

I will always remember you, dear friend, until the day I join you in death.

Rest in Peace, Roy McFarlane.

Al Rycroft
Victoria, British Columbia
Saturday, July 28, 2001

Thank you to the many hundreds who have cared, postered and searched for Roy. Your hope and help have been of great inspiration to Roy's family and close friends.

Roy's body was found on Thursday, July 26 in the Inner Harbour of Victoria, near where he was last seen the evening of Monday, May 14. He was found wearing his bicycle helmet, and foul play is not suspected. Roy had an accident or sudden trauma (such as an aneurysm), and fell into the ocean that fatal Monday night.

There will be a memorial service for Roy this coming Wednesday, August 1 at 4 pm at St. Ann's Academy in Victoria. An informal gathering will take place at the James Bay Inn immediately afterward, where people can say a few words and share reminiscences about him. In lieu of flowers, we encourage you to make a donation in Roy's name to your favourite organization, or to the Search & Rescue Society of BC.

We wish you peace,

Al Rycroft and Kealey Pringle

-- rainbow line --

In Memory of Roy McFarlane
Rest in Peace
December 20, 1955 to May 14, 2001
Roy McFarlane circa 1996

Please email any thoughts and photos that you would like included in the Guest Book.

Guest Book

Sat, 28 Jul 2001 17:39:22 -0500

Our sincere condolences to you as you mourn the loss of Roy, and yet we must also thank you for helping us celebrate his goodness.


Kathy Kelly

Voices in the Wilderness
1460 West Carmen Ave
Chicago IL 60640

Sat, 28 Jul 2001 18:47:12 -0400

I am terribly sorry about Roy McFarlane's death. I never knew him, but now I feel he always was a close friend, so selfless and goodhearted. Thank you for your moving eulogy. I will miss him, and as you, try to be as kind and gentle as he was.

With deep sympathy, Dietrich Fischer

Sat, 28 Jul 2001 15:51:36 -0700

Very beautiful, Al, and very well put, an excellent tribute. All I can say is amen and thank-you.

Sid Tafler

Sat, 28 Jul 2001 16:19:09 -0700

I am very sad. I have forwarded your message to my sister Margaret Dyment who worked beside Roy in the peace movement in Ottawa, renewed their friendship in Victoria, and had great love and respect for him.

Thank you for letting us know.

Ruth Slavin
Executive Director Victoria School of Writing
(250) 380-5154

Sat, 28 Jul 2001 16:29:30 -0700

Al, your write-up prompts a response from a stranger.. I am distressed and saddened by your news, but I am grateful to you for sending it to me. I did not know Roy; I briefly exchanged some emails. Hardly a form of intimacy that amounts to friendship. But I could tell, I think, from his messages what sort of fellow he might be: a fair-minded and good man. I had his name on my wall by my desk for months prior to his disappearance. He struck as someone who might serve as an ideal judge for the B.C. Book Prizes, someone whose name I could pass along in that regard... someone whose concerns would not be narrow-minded or self-serving in any way. From the comments of others it is easy to conclude that he was one of the people who keep our world going, who give all of us hope just by being there. It can seem as if such people are a small minority; so the loss of such people makes it clear to us how precious they always were/are/will be... The constancy of such spirits keeps us all from despair and headed towards better ways of doing things. I didn't know the guy and yet I know, from the comments of others, that Roy was inspirational on that daily level that is even more important than the headline level. Here was a well-liked guy organizing events so that other voices could be heard, working full-time at Munro's and organizing a Green campaign. A life worth living.

Best wishes,
Alan Twigg
BC BookWorld

Sat, 28 Jul 2001 16:40:16 -0700

I just received your tragic message and would like to express my deepest sympathy for the loss of your friend, Roy. For those of us who are not religious, it is the ultimate finality. But there is an ecology to death, in that our atoms are recycled forever.

Very best personal regards,
Fred Knelman

Sat, 28 Jul 2001 19:52:26

I am very sorry to hear of Roy McFarlane's death. You sound like such wonderful friends that it seems he must have had a good life. Thanks for passing on this news; he has been in the back of my mind, though we never met, since I heard he was missing. My condolences in your loss.

In sympathy,
Beverley Daurio
The Mercury Press

Just received your e-mail Al and we are sorry to hear of what happened to your friend Roy. He has been in our thoughts so much over the past two months. At least there can now be some closure to his life on this earth. I always feel that knowing the truth is so much better and easier to take than not knowing. May you be uplifted as you remember the attributes of the person he was.

Blessings on all of you. Love, Auntie Del and Uncle Hugh

Sat, 28 Jul 2001 20:56:06 -0400

Thank you for giving me the news, sad as it was. Words fail me. You already know what a sterling man Roy was, so I won't go there. I was so very happy that he got in touch with me again after 20 years, and now he's gone. Count me among those who loved him, and will miss him.

In sorrow,

Jim Stark

Sat, 28 Jul 2001 17:12:18 -0800

My condolences to you and family regarding the death of your friend Roy. I'm glad the mystery is over for you. Roy will live on in the hearts of all who knew him I'm sure.


Arthur Topham

Sat, 28 Jul 2001 17:33:36 -0700

I just heard the news on TV and am devastated. He was such a gentle, kind person. He will be missed by us all. I know that you were very good friends with him and it must be very hard on you. My deepest condolences. If there is anything I can do for the memorial, please let me know.

Freda Knott

Sat, 28 Jul 2001 21:55:06 -0800

Thank you for this tribute, which describes Roy as I knew him too. We crossed paths in the peace movement and in book-related moments in Ottawa and in Victoria. Many years ago, he and I talked about the science fiction novel he was writing. After that I always saw Roy also as a secret writer. We all knew that he was not a man to walk away from his life. We all knew that something had happened. His energy and compassion, his passion and his friendship were a rare combination, and the world does feel poorer tonight, knowing he isn't going to turn up again at at a demo or Munro's or the JBI. I am glad, though, that Roy lived his life as he did, and that I had the privilege of knowing him a little in two different cities of his life. My heart is with his friends now who grieve Roy's death and who celebrate his life.

Margaret Slavin Dyment

Sat, 28 Jul 2001 21:59:22 -0700

Thank you so very much for helping all of us to celebrate Roy's life. It's been a very tough day and I have been thinking of you both throughout it.

Jane Brett

Sun, 29 Jul 2001 00:06:56 -0700

After sitting at this desk staring at my reply email to your notice, I realize that, of course, there is no room for poetic license here. Simply, then, I'd like to send my condolences to those close to Roy. At the moment I'm in Vernon finishing up the last two weeks of this year's Greenboathouse Reading series, and knowing how much work these things are, I was always impressed and inspired by the JBI series for putting on such a good show for so long. I know that all of us in the Canadian lit-scene were hoping for the best when we heard the bad news of Roy's disappearance, and I suppose there really isn't any way to finish this sentence, except to say that I've spoken to many, many people over the last few months who have been concerned and hopeful for a more positive conclusion to this situation. That concern is testament to the reach of Roy's literary efforts (not to mention all his other work, which your email detailed).

Again, my condolences to those that knew Roy much better than I did myself.

Jason Dewinetz, Editor
Greenboathouse Books

Sun, 29 Jul 2001 01:44:24 -0700

Thanks for letting me know and for working so hard to find Roy. I know that you were very close and death is so final.Please know that I send my love and I will miss Roy and all his caring and compassion right along with you. Please let me know if I can help in any way.

Your friend Colleen Eccleston

Sat, 28 Jul 2001 21:21:29 -0400

I'm so sorry to hear of the loss of your very dear friend. Roy sounds like a truly wonderful being. It's clear that he will live on in you, and likely in many others.

Warmest wishes, Joanna Santa Barbara

Sun, 29 Jul 2001 09:07:18 -0700

I am truly sorry it ended this way. When I saw the article on the front of the T.C. , I knew. It is good to have closure and my thoughts are with you, his family, and friends.

Nigel Seale

Mon, 30 Jul 2001 09:31:05 -0700

I'm very sorry for your loss. I was thinking of you when I saw the story of Roy being found in the water. Your tribute to Roy is very moving. It's always sad to lose someone who gives so much in our lives.

Take care,
Stacy Chappel

Mon, 30 Jul 2001 14:20:33 -0700

Thank you so much for keeping me posted through this difficult time. Roy's contribution to the community here in Victoria was creative and inclusive. He had the gift of bringing people together! I know I will miss him.

Barbara Pedrick

Sun, 29 Jul 2001 20:16:23 -0700

Thank-you, Al, for expressing what we all feel. He was ours for richer or poorer, richer for having had him, poorer in losing him too soon.

for Roy

We will remember this summer
for the rain that never came,
and when it did, whole gardens
washed into the flood drains,
all the dirt we'd been making; our dinner
parties and intimate garbage
wrapped in yesterdays news,
a poster calling him home.

The week-end of the storm, we sat
in the rain listening to music,
watched our poems float down
the street while someone went
swimming and found our friend
sleeping quietly under the bridge.

How many times had we passed
over him, holding our breath
and making wishes, while the
curious fish circled his body
as if they knew he was his
own holy moment, someone who
spoke softly, rode his bicycle
carefully over the fragile water.

All summer, we kept whispering
his name into the silence
under the bridge. We
watched it enter cleanly,
without a splash or a sound.
It took us that long to find him
and learn that men of peace
are the first to go forward
and become one with every
garden that flows back to the sea
and continue to do "good to all
that wander in that perilous
flood" when their time comes.

with love and thanks, Linda Rogers

Sun, 29 Jul 2001 11:24:42 -0700

Many thanks, Al, for ensuring that we who knew and loved Roy, were updated on this news. I am somewhat comforted to find out that the assessment is that it was not 'foul play', although my own inner senses indicated that it wasn't.

As is my custom, keep the search poster image of him, in my cauldron (for blessings) for a year and a day. And yes, I will help where I can in taking down the posters in stores, etc.

All the blessings of the brilliance of the year,

Pashta MaryMoon

Sun, 29 Jul 2001 13:47:24 -0700

Thanks, Al. I feared this news. I am so sorry.

Unfortunately, I will be out of town with my family the week of the memorial service. I send my love and sympathy to you and Roy's family and friends.

Jean Wallace

Sun, 29 Jul 2001 17:59:46 -0700

Please forward my sympathy to everyone who knew Roy, and especially to his family.

Memories keep the one you loved
close to you in spirit and thought
and always in your heart,
today and forever.

Marj Morton

Sun, 29 Jul 2001 23:43:55 -0000

Dear friends,

As the police have ruled out foul play, Roy's untimely death was likely accidental, possibly the result of a heart attack or aneurysm that caused him to fall into the water. After so much speculation following his disappearance, the fact that Roy's transition to the next stage of life was apparently quick and hopefully without much pain is somewhat comforting.

In the short two years that I knew Roy, he brought incredible enthusiasm and optimism to the projects on which we worked. Whenever I was in need of an editor, Roy proved a great wordsmith.

Encouraging me to seek the Green Party nomination for Victoria-Beacon Hill, Roy agreed to manage the election campaign, a challenge he took on on top of full-time work at Munro's Books. For many weeks, Roy worked tirelessly preparing for and directing the campaign. He designed the very attractive brochure we printed and coordinated over 80 volunteers.

Here in Victoria-Beacon Hill, the Green Party received 21.7% of the popular vote (5,460 votes). Across the seven constituencies on southern Vancouver Island, we received 19.4 percent (31,985 votes)--the most concentrated green vote in the province.

It is so unfortunate that Roy is not here with us to share in the success to which he contributed so much!

Walter Meyer zu Erpen
2001 MLA Candidate
Green Party of British Columbia - Victoria-Beacon Hill

Sun, 29 Jul 2001 11:09:48 -0700

I understand -- I never had the opportunity to meet Roy, but have learned a great deal of him from your posts and the community outpouring since his disappearance. I wish I had known him.

He will be in the hearts of the community for many years to come.

- Dan Bashaw

Date: Sun, 29 Jul 2001 16:16:30 -0500 (CDT)

I first met Roy in late December 1982 when I went to work for Operation Dismantle in Ottawa. By then, Roy was no longer employed by O.D., but he was, like many of those other early Dismantle workers, still deeply involved in peace and social justice issues. Over the years, as we both moved on, we only kept in touch sporadically with the occasional telephone call or e mail or through a third party. But, I'll always remember Roy's gentle, unassuming manner, twinkling blue eyes and hearty laughter, as well as his love of literature.

There is one incident involving Roy which typified his unwavering and principled commitment to non-violent activism. Roy told me about it afterwards. It was a hot summer's afternoon in 1983 and the Federal Liberal Government at the time had just made its "official" announcement at the Parliamentary Press Centre that they would allow the U.S. military to test fly Air Launced Cruise Missiles over Northern Canada. The govenment had waited until Parliament had adjourned for the summer recess to make its intentions known, thus avoiding heated debates in the House of Commons. I believe the peace camp had already been established on the grounds of Parliament and, if memory serves me correctly, that brave band had organized a small demonstration. But apart from some spontaneous actions not much protest occurred that day. By the time I arrived at the press centre, the Government Minister had already made his fateful, foolish (and not totally unexpected) announcement.

After the government representative- it was either the Minister of Defence or the Minister of Foreign Affairs- had made his public statement, he returned to his chauffeured limousine. Roy just happened to be there. As the car was pulling away, our courageous friend stepped in front of it and paused. Roy stood there for a minute or two, perhaps it was longer, preventing the car from continuing forward. Later, Roy told me how angry he was at our government's decision.

"I had to do it," he said.

Honour to the memory of Roy McFarlane.
Martin Zeilig

Mon, 30 Jul 2001 17:39:00 -0400

I am so sorry to hear the news about Roy. I did not know him personally - just as the wonderful organizer of the reading series at the JBI.

I have forwarded your e-mail to 2 former colleagues of his in Toronto - Susan Wallace worked with him at Book City and is currently a sales rep with the Literary Press Group. I have asked her to forward the message to Melissa Pitts who is sales manager with the University of Toronto Press and who sold to Roy when he was at Book City - Melissa was formerly sales manager at the Literary Press Group. I also let my son and his boyfriend Randy know - they spent the long weekend in May on Saltspring Island and saw the posters.

Take care. I'm sure your hearts are heavy.

Kitty Lewis

Mon, 30 Jul 2001 20:31:16 -0700

Our hearts join with yours in your sorrow. We have followed the news stories all along and it is nice to have this direct communication from you, who knew him well. It sounds like we missed a lot by not having met Roy. He must have sat by the water for awhile just to enjoy nature and, as you suggest, had some sort of medical attack. This will be a hard week for you in some ways but also with some joy for a life well lived by a person with whom you had such a close relationship. Our love to you both.

Helen and Leslie Russell

Tue, 31 Jul 2001 10:11:11 -0400

Cam and Louis have been forwarding your emails about Roy around the Ottawa community. We all very much hoped to somehow bump into Roy here and discussed what we would do if we did.

Your eulogy for Roy was touching and true. Even though I hadn't seen him in recent years, it's how I fondly remember him. Thank you so much for writing it.

With peace,
Pam FitzGerald

31 Jul 2001 08:14:29 -0700

Thank you for letting me know. My sympathies and prayers are with you all who knew him. I never knew Roy but saw the poster and picture with such a kind and caring face that I contacted you with info about LOOKOUT newspaper. I have a son the same age as Roy so can understand how painful it must be to lose a loved one especially in the prime of life.

Tender regards,
M. Zoe Lenska

Tue, 31 Jul 2001 09:51:02 -0700

You have touched me deeply, and painted a wonderful picture of Roy, that I will remember and cherish. May he rest in peace.

I am sorry for your and our loss. I believe that he will continue to watch and assist, that he is with us still, just a slightly different perspective.

Katy Young

Tue, 31 Jul 2001 10:16:00 -0400

I'm very sorry to hear about Roy. I was hoping very much that Roy would somehow show up at one of Toronto's many bookstores and that we'd have good news for you and your community. Roy must have been a wonderful fellow and it is a great loss. My heartfelt condolences.

Susan De Rosa, Voice of Women (National Office, Toronto)

Tue, 31 Jul 2001 00:24:41 -0700

Dear Friends,

Thank you to all of you who have responded to the Sundays at the JBI Newsletter and for all the kind words of support and encouragement.

The news of Roy this weekend has been extremely sad and difficult for a lot of us. So many of you wrote to say how much you liked and respected Roy-- even though you may have only met him once or saw him only occasionally. This testifies as to how much Roy was a welcome part of people's lives. I too am happy to have known such a lovely, lovely person.

Thank you all again for hanging in there through these unique circumstances and offering your continuing support and assistance for the Sundays at the JBI reading series. Roy would be happy to know that the series and all its poetry could bend without breaking.

Adieu dear Roy! I know there is more poetry where you have gone...

Jill Margo
Sundays at the JBI
Phone: 250.721.WORD

Tue, 31 Jul 2001 15:46:21 -0700

Dear friends of Roy,

With the rest of you I have been keeping mental and spiritual vigil awaiting some news of Roy. This outcome is not the way we would have written the ending.

My thoughts will be with all of you when you gather on Wednesday. I will be with my daughter on Pender Island and I will gaze at some tall trees, some eagles and some distant shores in Roy's memory. I'll lift a glass at sunset.

To life,

Rhonda Batchelor (Lillard)

Tuesday, July 31, 2001 4:07 PM
Roy loved a good party

The photo shows Roy at a party of mine in Victoria, back in the summer/fall of 1998. He looks great, doesn't he? I have kept this picture by my bed ever since I heard the news of his disappearance and I feel like I know it like the back of my hand. I don't know what you're intending to do with the photos you receive (and maybe I'm too late) but I thought it'd be nice for everyone to see him looking so very well.

All the very best,


Mon, 30 Jul 2001 23:49:58 -0700

I wanted to pass on my condolences to you about Roy's death. It's a really terrible loss. I won't be able to make it to the memorial on Wednesday but wanted to let you know my thoughts would be there.

Andrea Reimer

Wednesday, August 1, 2001


You were a gentle soul,
a kind soul,
an old soul.

You lit candles of hope
and loved many.

You were strong and brave
and you were my friend.

Your journey is not over
and we will meet again.

When I'm done with this life friend
I will look for you.

Until then, my memories and dreams
will soothe my heart.

Dear Roy, you are a gentle soul,
a kind soul,
an old soul.

And I will miss you.

-- Kealey Pringle

Roy McFarlane Eulogy

Given at the Memorial Service by Kevin Swayze on Wednesday, August 1, 2001.

· It's been a wearing two months as we've waited for word of Roy since he disappeared in May.

· Since he was found last week, I have to admit it's been one of the most difficult periods of my life. I'm sure there are many here who would say the same.

· But now that we're finally able to bring Roy home, let's all take solace in this opportunity to find peace and bring closure to the life of a truly unique human being.

· Roy McFarlane - my friend of twenty years. Brother, companion, co-worker, uncle, comrade - whoever he was to each of us, it's now time to celebrate his life and reflect on what we can take away from our individual and collective experiences with the man.

· Over the last several days I've tried hard to nail down what there is to say about Roy McFarlane.

· I won't kid you - it has not been an easy task.

· Roy was one in a million - yet at the same time he was many things to the many people and communities who were a part of his life.

· How do you summarize an individual like that into a brief eulogy?

· I have no idea.

· And the more I tried to draw a picture of who Roy was, the more I realized I wasn't dealing with your standard career-minded worker bee.

· I could have knocked off that type of eulogy in a couple of hours.

· But like most things about Roy - it was going to be a little bit complicated and far more interesting.

· The idea that summarizing Roy in a eulogy is such a difficult task would bring him endless delight if he were here to witness my struggles, I'm sure.

· When I look out at the people here today and I think of the people from Roy's past who I've spoken with over the last few days - people from across the country from many communities - I realize what a complicated, glorious, multi-faceted set of ideals, skills and contradictions Roy was … again, a fact that would undoubtedly set him off chortling with delight.

· He was a man of passion and ideals, of struggles and artistic creation - yet he loved to portray himself as this Zen-like gnome who had everything in control.

· Some of us here know him as a writer - others are surprised to hear he had several novels and literary projects on the go.

· He was well versed in the literary scene and the publishing business - a long standing member of that honourable profession that works in and around books and the written word …

· Yet many of us here knew him as a community and political activist - someone who took a stand on issues and worked for change.

· He was known in the cultural community as an independent producer of literary and spoken word events such as his Sundays at the JBI series…

· Yet others here knew him as this neighbourhood character who was always around Cup'a Joes on his weekend mornings or good for a game of pool at the JBI.

· He loved his beer and tobacco, he hung out in pubs and loved nothing better than an evening vegging on the couch watching Startrek or Buffy the Vampire Slayer - yet he would always be on at me to join him in Yoga, to eat healthier, to get out in the world and be healthy - then he'd go outside for a smoke.

· Writer, artist, political radical, community activist, entrepreneur, organizer, producer, literati, bookseller, iconoclast, trekkie, zen mystic, shit-raiser - friend.

· Not bad for a little guy from Park-Ex in Montreal.

· Oh - he was able to get along in both official languages as well, even though I think that's against municipal bylaws in Victoria. I know Roy would want me to mention that.

· Roy was everybody's friend - and I count myself lucky to have known and experienced the human being who was all of these things.

· I first met Roy back in the early eighties when he was a full-time political activist working for room and board with a national peace organization.

· A group of idealistic young activists living, eating and breathing politics in a slummy co-op house in Ottawa's west end - working to rid the world of nuclear weapons while existing on no salary, homemade soup and a whole lot of hope - that's hope with an "H," although there certainly was some evidence of the "D" word around - remember we were all products of the '70s.

· I'm sure they had the Nato command structure and the Minister of National Defence looking over their shoulders.

· It was the age of Reagan and the Cold War and I came in to help organize Canada's first anti-cruise missile demonstration - who here remembers "refuse the cruise?"

· Roy's organization was footing the bill and Roy was sent to be the representative of that organization.

· We hit it off instantly.

· This was a time when the idea of a peace group was something that belonged in the sixties and the left was fractured into various special interest groups - none of which was interested in a peace group - Remember - this was 1981.

· We had women's groups telling us that peace and disarmament weren't feminist issues and labour groups laughing us out of their meetings.

· Environment groups and assorted collectives looked at us like we had two heads.

· I was ready to give up, but Roy kept on going, refusing to give in.

· With a little help from some religious groups and some clever use of the local media, Roy somehow got the word out about the rally to organizations and communities around Ottawa.

· I remember the day of the march - we still called them peace marches in those days - I was sent to Parliament Hill to get things ready for the rally that was to follow while Roy was stationed at the start of the march in a local park.

· I recall sitting on the stage at Parliament Hill waiting for the marchers to arrive - I figured we'd get a few hundred at the most and the media would have a hay-day portraying us as a radical fringe group.

· But Roy kept insisting that the anti-cruise missile campaign was an issue whose time had come and we just needed a bit of exposure.

At the appointed hour I heard this roar coming through the canyons of downtown Ottawa that sure didn't sound like a small political gathering.

· Much to my surprise, a never-ending sea of humanity poured down Rideau Street, with thousands of people representing dozens of organizations and communities - all heading to Parliament Hill to gather around my little stage.

· Like it or not, we had a massive media event and bringing up the rear with a dirty t-shirt, a walkie talkie and a shit-eating grin was Roy McFarlane.

· His only comment to me was,"I hope you got the bloody PA system working - CBC national is here!"

· The anti-cruise movement went on to grow throughout the early eighties, and peace and disarmament issues became cornerstones of political activism in this country and elsewhere.

· But that was my first experience with Roy - and for years afterwards he loved to tell us all that he helped organize Canada's first refuse the cruise demonstration - he'd probably want me to mention that here today as well.

· The years went by and we shared houses and apartments, I ended up in Newfoundland for a while, Roy ended up in Montreal, I moved to Vancouver and Roy joined me there for two years after his marriage broke up - oh yes - did I mention he was married?

· That's one for another storytelling session - see me at the JBI afterwards.

· But the one thing that always struck me about Roy was that he always had hope.

· Whether it was for a political cause, a cultural project, a love affair, a friendship, or one of life's traumas, Roy always carried a message of hope, just as he did at that cruise missile demonstration so many years ago.

· Six years ago I suffered a spinal cord injury.

· For a while it looked like I'd be confined to a wheelchair and Roy, living in Toronto at the time, flew out to Vancouver to be with me while I recovered at the GF Strong Centre there.

· He spent two weeks taking me out on day trips and driving me around the countryside, the whole time preaching his message of hope.

· He was my friend, my backbone, my source of strength.

· When I came out of the rehab program Roy invited me to join him in his new home of Victoria - offering me support and friendship while I sorted out my life and overcame the incredible emotional struggles that come with an injury such as that.

· So Roy gave me hope as I recovered from the most traumatic experience of my life.

· And Roy is also is responsible for me moving to Victoria - and with every trip back to Vancouver, I'm more eternally grateful.

· At one point, while looking for a reason why I had my mobility taken away from me by a back injury, Roy simply told me that "shit-happens and it's time to sort things out and get back to life."

· He never gave up on me and he was always there for me, no matter how bad things got.

· So I've spent several days now trying to figure out how I can speak of the life of Roy McFarlane.

· I could spend two hours alone speaking of his political endeavours.

· I could go on at length about the communities he touched, and I'd need a separate eulogy to speak about his artistic projects, his writing and his cultural events here and in other places.

· If I were to speak of the many people and groups he's touched, I'd need a whole new service later in the week.

· Who the hell was this guy?

· A set of firm principals, a walking set of contradictions, a dedicated friend, brother, uncle, co-worker, a fun-loving man of the world who enjoyed his worldly pleasures.

· Roy never embraced organized religion, yet he was one of the most spiritual people I've ever known.

· He always had this calmness at his core that spoke of his awareness of another world out there that we know little about.

· He could never define it - he never really tried - but he always had a faith in something other-worldly, a spiritual existance that gave him strength and hope in all he did.

· So what do we take away from all of this?

· How can we summarize the wonderful existance of this complicated, wonderful human being?

· Well first - hope.

· Roy always had hope.

· It's a lesson that I need to learn, and a strength that Roy always imparted to me.

· Hope is what gives birth to all that is good in this world and Roy was able to do so much because he always had hope.

· Second, the knowledge of the unity of the human spirit.

· A knowledge of an aspect to life that cannot be defined, but a higher power that links us all together.

· The spirit, if you will.

· And finally - if I may be so crude - Roy always preached that shit happens.

· No matter what happened to me or to him, Roy always picked up the pieces, shrugged his shoulders, lit up a cigarette and wrote it all off as experience - and carried on.

· Shit happens - that's part of what defines this beautiful, mysterious existence that we're all a part of, this journey, this life.

· We are not in control and for better or for worse, we learn to roll with it - shit happens.

· It's part of what makes our existence so magnificent.

· It's a factor that Roy understood and an ideal that he always tried to teach to me.

· I'd never attempt to summarize a complicated character like Roy McFarlane into a few short words - I don't think the greatest philosophers of this era could summarize Roy in a few short words.

· But as we leave here today, and we're looking for a few concepts to help us define the essence of the Roy experience, I'm going to throw these out as a place to start:

· Number one - hope. Once you've defined what is needed, always carry on. Roy never lost hope in any of his endeavours.

· Number two - spirituality - faith in an undefined spiritual unity and another existence that we're all a part of. Something to take comfort from.

· And number three - shit happens! For better or for worse, that's what makes life so interesting, so glorious, so exciting! So let's all roll with it and keep on keepin' on.

· I think the fact that I decided to use the "S" word in a eulogy would have been the source of more amused chortles from one Roy McFarlane if he were here today.

· So keep these ideas close to your heart and let's leave here today with a memory of what Roy meant to us individually and to our various communities.

· Those are concepts only you and those close to you can define - I can only speak of Roy as I knew him … I know you'll all have your own understanding of Roy.

· So we salute Roy formally here in this memorial service, then we'll move over to the James Bay Inn to salute him each in our own way, but in his natural habitat.

· I might even nip out back with a pint of lager and an illicit Player's light in his honour …

· Thank you.

Kevin Swayze

Wed, 1 Aug 2001

Under A Bright Moon We Carry You

You loved the sea. You came here
because you loved the sea. You called it home.

Missing you, we, too, were drawn
to water, the mirrored stillness of lakes, long

stretches of shoreline; combed your favourite beaches
for any trace of blue. The summer a strange

solace, no rain since the night you vanished,

only warm sun, clear skies, miraculous
sunsets. Was this your gift to us? Warmth,

clarity, yes, an honour and
honesty of brilliant proportions.

You loved the sea. And it called you home.

Under a bright moon we carry you, we are blessed
to have been loved by you,

to love you, those diamonds of light
on the waves the light in your eyes.

The sound of the sea a rhythm to lull us to sleep.

You have come from the sea, from the place
you loved most. You are a body

of water, a body of light, luminous.

In the moonlight you are beautiful, and pure.

Cathryn Dimock
August 1st, 2001. (read at wake, JBI Pub)

I am no longer afraid of death, I know

your body drifted slowly, gently, to the depths of the sea.

And you stayed there, while
your father and mother and an angel-child of God

took you by the hand

and lead you to a place of learning,
and patience. You moved through all the unending rooms

of your life and understood
the exact meaning of things. And then

you turned to see your body still
drifting, needing to return to earth. You were

everywhere and nowhere for the longest time.

So you raised your arms above your head & your body lifted up
in a summer shaft of light

and we caught just a glimpse of your soul
as the constant sun shifted,

becoming torrents of rain, your gift
to the parched gardens

of paradise.

And you tendered your first step
toward us, from your own

perfect inner harbour, you began

to walk the earth

Cathryn Dimock
August 5, 2001

Tue, 07 Aug 2001 16:42:58 -0400
Roy setting up literature tableRoy @ Literature Table

Your tribute to Roy is eloquent and true from my memory of him. He was a patient, playful, gentle, idealistic and optimistic person with a great sense of humour -- it's hard to imagine therefore that his death was anything but an accident. I have many, many good memories of laughing and working with Roy and the "class of 82" (you, me, Jean Grieg, Deb Ellis, etc) at Operation Dismantle and later at Clarence Street.

Roy with DismantlersAttached are three photos I found of Roy from Operation Dismantle days (along with a few other familiar faces).

Peter Brown

Wed, 8 Aug 2001 14:52:56 -0400

I was sorry to hear that Roy had died. Martin had been forwarding me your e-mails about Roy's disappearance and I was passing them on to the old O.D. gang. I was hoping to hear that he had turned up somewhere and was okay. I remember Roy well. His kind and gentle disposition. His dedicated activism. His sense of humour. How can I forget those "detective" games we played at your place when you lived in Ottawa? I would pretend to be Inspector Clouseau and try to unmask the "murderer" among the guests. One time, Roy ended up being the murderer! Ah, well, such is the way things are. Roy will be missed. He touched many lives.

Louis Lemire

Tue, 14 Aug 2001

I'm so sad to hear about Roy's death -- my condolences to his family and close friends.

I met Roy in Toronto when I was a sales rep for the Literary Press Group and he was a buyer for Book City. No matter how frazzled or unprepared I felt when we met to go over the books, Roy's easy good-naturedness and calm spirit would make me feel better almost immediately. We used to meet sometimes for coffee and talk about his writing, the various activist organizations he was involved with, the books we were both reading, and, the great puzzler -- why cats could ignore you and still reap such love. Roy's conversations were always filled with descriptions of things he had done with one friend, or a conversation he'd just had with another. It seemed that the whole country was filled with people who loved and admired Roy and whom he loved and admired right back. It made perfect sense when Roy decided to move west, and although after seeing him once, briefly, in Vancouver, we lost touch, every now and then I'd bump into his friend Susan and she'd fill me in on the latest news. It was good to hear that Roy was thriving and happy in Victoria, that his life was so full. He was a truly lovely man and the world would be all the richer if he was still here, fighting for the things that mattered and laughing, because that mattered too.

Melissa Pitts


You lived your dreams so openly,
always seeking new ways to place peace above war,
humanity against despair,
poetry above dull boredom.

They say you have left us;
they found your body in the Inner Harbour;
but we know you are still here wherever friends remember you.

We say thank you,
Roy McFarlane,
Poet from the Pub.

Thank you.

Guy Dauncey

Fri, 05 Oct 2001 19:51:11 -0400

When I first heard the news in Quebec City, I tried to describe my sadness to classmates and kept returning to how how "good" a person Roy was, so warm and friendly and consistently upbeat.

Sue and I met him in '97, I working on Green Party campaigns, and both of us with the Earthwalk. He was always such a positive, directed force, patient and calm amidst uncertainty, yet keeping things moving forward. I last saw him on a visit to Victoria to work on the '99 municipal campaign.

Roy left a deep imprint in our lives. Sue and I held our own memorial this afternoon, on a misty, rainy Victoria-like day, sitting on a rocky crag in Hull across from the Parliament Buildings. In planning our "service", only today did we come upon the Guest Book, all of which we printed and read together, some quietly, some out loud. We cried long and hard, and toasted Roy's wonderful presence on this planet.

We cherish your memory, Roy, and thank you for being in our lives.

Andrew Van Iterson (and Sue Merrill)

  -- rainbow line --

A Few Links:

News and Updates on the Search for Roy McFarlane, including video & images
High Resolution photo (roy.bmp) of Roy McFarlane (700 K)

Sundays at the JBI (poetry nights)
Walk for Global Justice / Earth Walk


This page may be freely linked to without permission, provided an email is sent listing all new links.