Years ago, I emceed Chantelle LeMouel’s wedding and her uncle John LeMouel excitedly came to me and said he had a plan to congratulate the newlyweds. I asked what he wanted to do and he said just answer the phone and play along. Then he took off with a microphone.

Soon a phone rang over the intercom. I turned on my mic and said “hello.”

I hear this on the other end.

“Hello, I hear my girlfriend is getting married!” 

I asked: “Who is this?”

“Johnny Noel.”

John had the guests roaring for about 10 minutes as he tried to convince me to stop the wedding.

Johnny Noel recently passed away and I thought I would tell you a bit about him. Like a lot of us did at the time, Johnny started drinking at a young age, but he also got into trouble. He spent many short stints in several correctional centres.

John moved to Penticton where he met his first love “Marilynn With Two Ns.” He often told us about panhandling and sleeping under a bridge with the “James Gang.” The fire department periodically sprayed a fire hose under the bridge to clean out the bedding people slept with.

When John’s best friend got married, John and Marilynn came to Yellowknife for the wedding. His buddy went on a belated honeymoon to Hawaii, and after a few days buddy suddenly said, “I gotta go to the airport.” His wife asked why, and buddy says, “I gotta pick up John.” John had convinced Marilynn that the newlyweds wanted company on their honeymoon.

John eventually sobered up with Marilynn’s help and then moved back to Yellowknife. Marilynn moved here for a time too. John soon became an Aboriginal court worker, reasoning that he had a lot of experience going to court so he could represent Indigenous people in court.

John was very good at what he did. He often represented several people a day in court, sometimes for serious charges. The judges appreciated his work as did his clients. Many times, I heard clients call him “my lawyer” and say how happy they were that John had represented them in court.

And he went that extra mile. John would often go looking downtown or phone around for someone who failed to appear in court. After seven years of no convictions, John successfully applied for a pardon, wiping out his criminal record.

While a court worker, John was looking at a condo when they heard a loud crash from the condo above. The real estate agent quickly ran upstairs and came back saying, “the people upstairs are moving out and dropped a box.”

“No problem,” said John.

John soon left and waited outside until the agent left then went upstairs and saw the door open to the unit where the loud crash had come from. “You guys moving in?” he asked a guy who was obviously sweating.

“No,” said the guy, “We’re just exercising.” Eschia!

That’s the kind of guy John was. He was a con, so he didn’t trust anybody. He ended up buying a condo on 46th Street, across from Sir John Franklin School. It was quite nice. Johnny Noel was eventually diagnosed with bipolar disorder, so he left the court work, rented out his condo, and moved to Inuvik with his second love, Debbie.

John’s neighbour called and said, “You better come home. The pipes in the building burst from the cold and I checked on your tenant. Him and another guy were sitting there, smoking dope, and they were so stoned they didn’t even know the water was up to their ankles.” Hahahahah!

Anyways, John lived in Inuvik for that winter and drove out when it warmed up. He stayed in Penticton for a while then ended up living in Edmonton with Debbie. Somewhere along the line, John sold his condo. Eventually he and Debbie split up and John moved back to Yellowknife.

He briefly lived in an apartment then built a cabin on the way to Behchoko, and then built two additions. He was quite proud of his cabin and had a picture of his dad prominently on his living room wall. He said the cabin was actually along where his dad used to trap lynx back in the day.

A cat with nine lives

It seemed like John was a cat with nine lives. Several years back John found out he had colon cancer. Lo and behold he had surgery and the doctors got it all out. He didn’t even need chemotherapy or radiation after the surgery. And it never came back.

John also had Hepatitis C and he believed it was from one of the times he was in jail. He had it for a long time and finally his doctor put him on DAA tablets for about 12 weeks and John said he was cured of Hep C. Hallelujah!

John often used a propane torch in his cabin, much to the chagrin of his family and friends. One day John said he knocked the end off of his torch and propane started to spew out. The end hit something metal causing a spark and an uncontrollable flame began to shoot out of the hose.

John grabbed the propane tank and hose and ran outside with it. He burned his right hand quite badly, but he always said the Lord was looking after him because the torch had started burning a plastic sheet he used as a divider and the fire inexplicably went out by itself.

Unfortunately, in the last couple of years, John’s health began to deteriorate so he moved to an apartment in town. Regrettably that’s where his luck ran out. Two weeks ago, he was found dead in his bed.

Farewell Johnny Noel. Life was never dull when you were around and I’m going to miss our time together.

Roy Erasmus

Roy Erasmus Sr. Is a certified wellness counsellor who survived heart disease and a former member of the Legislative Assembly of the Northwest Territories.

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