Alvin Cote of Saskatoon, Canada had a bit of a reputation. During his time as a homeless alcoholic, he racked up 843 public drunkenness charges before dying last month at the age of 59.
Cote was one of the most recognizable residents in Saskatoon, according to the Edmonton Journal. His local fame was such that many in the city, including the police officers that often arrested him, are now mourning his loss.
Beat cop Derek Chesney recalls being saddened after hearing the news having seen Cote almost every day for five years.
“It’s not often that you can arrest somebody on multiple occasions and end up being friends with them. But such was the case with Alvin,” Chesney wrote on his blog.
He even confessed to crying when he wrote an online tribute for Cote.
“You realize that people can fall through the cracks,” he said. “And just as much as a good person can have a bad day, things can happen to people in their lives where they end up going on a path that perhaps they didn’t choose.”
Not too much is known about Alvin Cote, Saskatoon’s “town drunk,” but what little that is has him hailing from the Cote First Nation in the Kamsack area. According to Chesney, who could probably be considered the closes thing Cote has to a biographer, he was taken to a residential school as a child, where he was abused for years.
Though Cote never talked about it, Chesney believes it was that abuse that set him on his self-destructive path. He has a sister in Saskatoon who tried to look after him for a time, but his alcoholism caused too much trouble.
Chesney hopes that the bench in the police lobby that Cote would sit on for hours will be give a plaque with his name on it, and moved into the new police station.
“He was a fighter. He was a survivor. And he’ll be remembered,” said Chesney.
You can read the much longer obituary for Alvin Cote, Saskatoon’s “town drunk,” here There’s also a longer piece written on him during his life here.