Joe Varnell beginning an early morning in the make-up chair at Global Television, Montreal (Photo by, 2002)
Joe Varnell beginning the morning in Global Television's make-up chair





Michael Hendricks and Rene Leboeuf (foreground), Joe Varnell and Kevin Bourassa (background) - Photo by, 2002
Michael Hendricks and Rene Leboeuf (foreground), Joe Varnell and Kevin Bourassa (background)





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June 10 to 12, 2002

On the train from Ottawa to Montreal, we chatted on the phone with Michael Hendricks, who is seeking his right to marry Rene Leboeuf in Quebec. Michael had an important meeting to attend that evening, and he was confirming our intention to rendevouz together somewhere in downtown Montreal when his meeting was over later that night, around 10:00 p.m.

Our plan was to check our luggage somewhere in the train station, and then explore Montreal's night life. However, by the time we arrived in the cool, rainy city we were ready for bed, exhausted from our early and long day in Ottawa.

The fact that the Queen Elizabeth hotel was directly above our heads, built on top of the train station played a big role in our decision! We left a message on Michael's answering machine, and headed for the check-in desk where we found ourselves the only room available, a mini-suite with a king-size bed. We surprised, maybe even pleased, the employee by confirming a single bed was exactly right for us.

We each had a shower, wrapped ourselves in some fluffy bathrobes and crawled onto the bed where we began to watch Lord of the Rings on television. We loved the film, while we lasted, but it didn't stand a chance against our fatigue. We lasted 30 minutes.

The next morning began with a 6:30 wake-up call and a full day planned for us by Doubleday:

  • Global TV, "This Morning Live" with host Tracey McKee.
  • Hour Magazine, Richard Burnett
  • The Montreal Gazette, profile interview with Lisa Fitterman
  • CKUT, taped radio interview with Chris DiRaddo
  • 940 News taped interview with Chris Bury
  • Radio Canada International, taped interview with Carmel Kilkenny
  • Mirror Magazine, interview with Matt Hays
  • CBC Radio, "The World Today" live interview with Andrew Carter

It was a long but exciting day, where we engaged millions of people in issues about our human rights. Photographers grappled with rainfall as they attempted to get decent pictures of us, and we gamely stood in the rain until the photographers decided we were too wet for one more shot.

Michael and Rene, and thier five-year-old Oscar (photo by, 2002) At the end of the day, we pulled up in front of Michael and Rene's lovely home in central Montreal, for our delayed but long anticipated first meeting. We have corresponded with each other for almost two years, so it felt like we already knew each other. Sitting down at a table with some drinks, we easily slipped into conversation and continued the evening over a fabulous dinner at one of their neighborhood restaurants.

We slept soundly in a guest room overlooking Michael and Rene's lovely backyard garden, lulled by the sound of rain hitting the broad leaves of the ferns outside our open window.

We woke up to catch a morning train back to Toronto where we look forward to welcoming Michael and Rene to their first appearance in Toronto's Pride Parade later this month!

Thanks to Stephanie Gowan (Doubleday), Rita and Hank Schaffer and Michael & Rene for a great visit in Montreal!