It is with great regret that his family shares his passing.
Noel was born in Ottawa, but the family soon came to Montreal, the city where he would spend the rest of his life. He both loved and loathed this city. He loved the museums and the galleries, the mountain and the river, the cafes and bistros, the Botanical Gardens and the city’s great mix of architectural styles. He loathed the sprawl, the congestion, and the city’s willingness to tear down little architectural gems in the name of progress and development.
After graduating Dawson College, he continued his education at Concordia University, where he received his Bachelor of Arts degree in 1978. At Concordia, Noel wrote for the Loyola News, reviewing books, records and live entertainment. He was also a disc jockey for Radio Loyola, hosting a program on the blues, one of his lifelong passions.
Noel worked as a renovator and contractor, during the summers while pursuing his education, and for a few years following his graduation. In the early eighties, he began writing about his experiences as a renovator. He contributed to two books, Lighting and Electricity, and Doors and Windows, published by St. Remi Press for Time Life Books. In 1984, he worked on the translation and adaptation of Traditional Windows, a technical manual devoted to the preservation and reconstruction of traditional windows, published by Heritage Québec. As well, in 1984, he began writing a weekly Q & A column in the Montreal Gazette concerning renovations and residential construction, with an eye to heritage building preservation. This column ran until 2001.
In 1986, he became a staff writer for Habitabec, a bilingual real estate weekly, writing stories concerning all aspects of housing in Montreal. He worked with them for two years. From 1991 to 1993, he was the editor of The Downtowner, a weekly community newspaper with a circulation of 60,000. From 1993 to 1999, he covered cable and satellite TV, his work appearing in New York and European publications. Throughout this time, he wrote press releases, company blogs and a variety of other work for a vast number of companies.
In 1992, he wrote his first artist profile for Magazin’Art. He was a lifelong lover of art as well. As a child of ten, he would spend Saturday mornings at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, sketching great works of art with his lifelong friend, Brian Black.
One morning at the museum, a stranger asked Noel to lend him his charcoal and his paper. This old man quickly sketched a security guard and a painting of some seals on a rock, then returned the paper to him and walked away. The security guard asked the boys… “Do you know who that was?” Neither of them knew. “You should get him to sign that.” they were told, so Noel chased after him and asked him to sign it. He put his initials between the two quick studies he had just done, A L. The man was Arthur Lismer, one of the original Group of Seven. To encourage two ten year olds in their love of art was amazing.
His great grandfather worked in a hardware store back in the 1920s, when both the house painter and the artist bought their paints at the same store. He was known to slide the artists the odd tube of paint for free, when they were down on their luck, and grandfather knew, and served, several of the Group of Seven. Perhaps Noel’s interest in art was genetic. His father, John Meyer, also wrote for Magazin’Art. Upon John’s passing, he became the English language editor for Magazin’Art, a position he held until his passing. Noel painted watercolors, with no discernible talent. They were done for his personal satisfaction. Nonetheless, they are prized by his adult children, Graham and Robyn, and the odd family member who might be lucky enough to have one. He had no false modesty about his skill, or the lack of it. He did it simply for the pleasure of doing it, which is really what art is about… the pleasure of creating it, and the pleasure of viewing it, nothing more, and certainly, nothing less.
Noel was a big man. Six foot two, and 250 pounds. He had big passions with art, music and literature. He was a voracious reader, of all genres, from the classic works of Dickens to the fantasy fiction of Tolkien, from Carl Hiaasen to Larry McMurtry, Dashiell Hammett to Len Deighton, from Patrick O’Brien to Bernard Cromwell. He is survived by three brothers and a sister, two children, many cousins and a thousand friends, all of whom were devastated by his passing at the young age of 64. He had so much more to give us all.
Text by Carl Meyer