“I know most of the country is either finishing up with the bad weather or are in the midst of it. But I have HORRIBLE news (you might want to sit down for this?)
Yup. It’s that time of the year when I..... lose my voice!!!!! (I TOLD you it was horrible!) Please. No teddy bears or flowers. A go fund me page would be drastic, so again no thanks. Go to church and pray that my god given melodious voice returns soon.”
It was in a Facebook post dated Feb. 11, that Davie Street business owner Shawn Bourgeault joked about not feeling well. His close friend John Boychuk told the Courier 10 days later, that Bourgeault had been struggling with a particularly nasty bout of the flu for several weeks, despite having had a flu shot. Boychuk believes it was that flu, which contributed to Bourgeault’s death, sometime over the Family Day long weekend. Bourgeault was 54.
“His death was very sudden,” says Boychuk, who noted he was speaking as a friend of more than two decades and not an official spokesperson. “He’d been dealing with this flu for three to four weeks and it was affecting his chest.”
Boychuk says Bourgeault’s mother and other family members were expected to arrive in Vancouver from Alberta this week to take care of details concerning Shawn and his estate. Boychuk adds Bourgeault was not only very close to his family, but also had a partner who lived in Edmonton.
Boychuk says an official cause of death — or even time of death — had not yet been determined at the time of the Courier interview Feb. 21. Boychuk says Bourgeault went home Friday night, Feb. 15, after complaining to friends about not feeling well, so no one was surprised when they didn’t hear from him for a couple of days while he recuperated over the weekend. Bourgeault was found deceased in his home Tuesday.
Bourgeault was the owner of Davie Village Tanning on Davie Street and Boychuk says if there was ever anyone considered a "fixture” in the Davie Village, it was Shawn. Besides being a long time friend, Bourgeault had worked as a manager for Boychuk and Paul Allen at their Davie Village Banana Tans location for years before eventually taking it over and rebranding it as Davie Village Tanning.
“In the past 10 years there’s been a lot of loss on Davie Street,” says Boychuk. “But Shawn was a long time fixture. He was one of those fixtures who worked every day and knew all of the business owners and everyone else in the village.”
Boychuck describes Bourgeault as a thoughtful man who put everyone else first.
“Shawn was an integral part of the community — on a personal and business level,” says Boychuk. “He had a big heart and sponsored every charity that asked in some way. How do you replace someone like that? Shawn was a true treasure.”
Longtime community LGBTQ2S+ advocate Barb Snelgrove had also been a friend of Bourgeault’s for years. Snelgrove told the Courier she’s heart broken by the unexpected loss of her friend and gave permission for her online tribute to be shared.
“I always looked for him in the window of the salon when in the ‘hood, and never failed to garner a big wave and hello whenever he was there. A quick pit stop for some hugs and chat was a prerequisite when on his ‘block,’ Snelgrove wrote in part.
“He was a great cheerleader of the LGBTQ community and always wanted to know what I was working on and offering up his two bits on improvements to ‘The Village.’ In fact I never failed to come away from any chat or interaction with Shawn feeling anything less than loved and invigorated. I will always carry with me his mile wide grin and the always accompanying crushing hug that went along with seeing him. I will miss his presence terribly and the loss of knowing we will never see him or feel those hugs again weighs heavily, as I am sure it will for the many he touched.”
Boychuk says a celebration of Bourgeault’s life is being planned for March in Vancouver and those details will be made public when finalized.