Tommy "Toast" Quesnel
Toronto, b. 19.August.1971 - d. 19.February.2016

Tommy "Toast"

Toronto veteran bike courier Tommy "Toast" Quesnel passed away on February 19, 2016. Tommy was a much loved Toronto messenger who was a very talented racer and rider. He was the top North American racer at the very first Cycle Messenger World Championships in Berlin in 1993.

Tommy's memorial page

Cycling Demons - a 1995 article from the Toronto Star about Tommy and Joe Dias

Tommy's page from the "Holmes Makes It Right show

RIP Tommy Toast Quesnel - a slide show by Leah Hollinsworth

Dear Tom

Once upon a time you had no cares, no worries. You rode like the wind. Your soul was light and free. Time passed as it does and clouds started darkening your existence. You could feel things getting heavier, darker but didn't think much about it. Good friends and good times seemed to light your way. Little did you know the worst storm you've ever seen was heading straight for you. It engulfed you, as it did to so many others. It threw you in an irreversible downward spiral. It's impossible not to feel anger towards the storm...and blame. That storm with it's gale force winds and devastating destruction took you. It never set you back on the ground again. You'd come close to us, then it would rip you away once more. I'd actually be able to hold your hand once in awhile. It was hard to watch you spin I had to stop. I always had you in my peripheral vision. That storm though, spun me in the opposite direction and i lost sight of you for a time. It almost destroyed me. Somehow, someway I made it out. I tried to bring you out with me but I think you started to feel like you were the cause of the storm. Absolutely untrue, the storm loved us and didn't want us to hurt.

Circumstances made the decision in the end and we were hurt very badly. You would hide from me in the darkness and rain. Occasionally giving me a glimpse of the Tommy I knew. Always disappearing back into your sadness, anger and loneliness. Just recently we talked more. For that I am forever grateful to the force that allowed me to hold you close for awhile. That gratitude doesn't last long because the storm finally took you with him. If you're with that storm right now Tom, please tell him I loved him. I hope the storm has stopped it's torment. You are a great, strong soul and fought as long as you could. I have to say goodbye now Tommy. I also have to tell you I am sorry I couldn't bring you out of the storm with me. We will always love you and miss you.


Mom, Tammie, Anthony, Mike

Dear Tom,

Seeing the world through your eyes was one of the greatest pleasures of my life…you were so quick, so observant and intuitive, so incredibly present. It’s why so many people were drawn to you – you were always able to make a connection because you were able to see the good and the funny in everyone – things people often didn’t see in themselves until you saw it there first. If you thought someone was special, they were. The ordinary had a way of becoming the extraordinary. While you had more charisma in your pinky than most people have in a lifetime, it’s not why people loved you. It’s because you loved them.

If the ordinary became the extraordinary through your eyes, they did so as well through your hands. You created the most beautiful things from nothing (things most people would have discarded) and somehow they became larger than life – just like you. You had such a good eye – it was your gift to see potential where others couldn’t. You could build anything and you made it look so easy – from coffee tables to playgrounds to light fixtures…

Remember our place on Florence? The mosaic tiles and the saloon doors and curvy countertop you built and the stainless steel table with the crazy table legs? The brick you exposed in each room, the thai couches? But that was just the beginning – your vision and craftsmanship matured with time. You were a creative genius, you know – but don’t get a big head just because I’m telling you now.

And let’s not forget the riding – so many stories about the legendary tommy toast! Coming in top place at the Worlds Cycle Messenger Championships – I remember you told me everyone had been training hard and were decked out in spandex – you stripped down to your underwear so you could race and beat them all, didn’t you? Your legs were like tree trunks and you were such a natural.

Jumping over stacks of newspaper, jumping over cars. Remember when you were sponsored by some bike company, and then they stopped sponsoring you when you broke frame after supposedly unbreakable titanium frame. Or when you got a ticket for speeding - on a bike - and went to court, only to have the whole thing thrown out because the judge had read about you in the local press and was a fan. To be fair, you had been going pretty fast.

Tooting around on motorbikes through Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos, going to that crazy tomato fight in Spain, staying in Jimi Hendrix’s hotel in Morocco – more incredible memories. Making friends with all the locals everywhere we went, as usual. Sharing pints of home brew with ancient Vietnamese grandpas and hanging out with all the kids in every village we visited – they loved you. I wasn’t happy when you started befriending the wild dogs and monkeys, though – remember when you had to get your rabies shots?

And then there was tree planting and thinning. You loved your chainsaw! Though cutting down trees just to clear a path to the beach was perhaps a teeny bit wasteful. But little did I know what you had in mind – your island, the one you took a boat out to and claimed as your own. Population 3 – you, me and Toast. I’ll never forget that one-man tent we shared between the three of us and how cozy it was.

Remember all those nights at the Gladstone (before it changed) – we just sang along – and that New Years we got separated from the group and ended up wandering into a church and celebrating New Year’s Eve with a room full of total strangers of all ages and it being the most amazing night ever? We danced the night away and it was magical. That could have only ever happened with you. God you were hilarious – no one could make me laugh like you.

Everything was just better with you around. Even if our lives drifted apart here and there, knowing you were around always made me happy. You need both sides of the memory to give it life and now I feel so alone carrying all these memories on my own. I guess that’s what hurts so much – we can never again laugh about those times together.

You could be so wise and you always surprised me with your optimism and kindness. For someone who thought anything was possible in others, I don’t know why you couldn’t see the same in yourself. I am so mad at you for making me say good bye.

Please come back and say good bye properly – come to me in a dream one night. I’m so sorry we hadn’t talked in awhile – you were never far from my thoughts. I’m sorry I let go but we both did, didn’t we? You forgave me and I forgave you.

Thank you, Tom – for being one of a kind, for sharing my twenties, for growing up together – I learned to love, learned to forgive, learned to let go. You can only appreciate the world through love, and I loved you so so much. I remember, and I will always remember.

Jenny April 12th, 2016

For nine months I carried you under my heart, then the time came for you to leave, it took you 19 hours plus to make you day view, kicking and screaming you were born.

I held you in my arms, I passed you to your Dad, you were all red and wrinkled and your father said this is Tommy.

You grew, I fed you, I changed, I did all the things a mother needs to do, I introduced you to your sister and she loved you on sight. Mostly though we just loved you and cuddled your and watched you grow.

You smiled, we smile, and you cried we worried, you grew.

You learned to crawl but crawling wasn’t fast enough you learned to walk and then run. You grew too big to hold in my arms, too big to hold under my heart. You became your own person. but falls and scraps always brought you back to me. As you grew life became harder for you. You tried so hard to do things for yourself, wanted to be strong and follow in your dad’s shadow. Where he went you wanted to be. You grew tall and strong and became more independent.

It was hard for me to see you spread your wings and make your own way. I wanted to keep you safe but you wanted to run, to fly, to ride. You did.

You left us, you returned, you left, always the same pattern, but you always returned if only to say HI.

You travelled the world with your best friend, you soared, but there was always a dark place waiting. Trying to take you away from those who loved you.

You and Tammy were the typical brother and sister but the love between you was strong and you always came back. You fell so far after your Dad, we did not think you could crawl out of the darkness but you did with the help of those who loved you.

You fell in love and your daughter Olivia was born, you soared again for awhile, you loved her so much, you taught her she followed you, You did all the things a father should do, you taught her to be a tickle gun, you taught her to be silly, you taught her love. You were her horsey, jungle gym and her climbing post. The lap she wanted to sit in. You made her giggle and laugh, but the darkness came and now she is the saddest little girl.

But you couldn’t stay, the darkness took over and you left again to the secret place in the soul where the darkness pulled you. The darkness was seductive and felt like home. You forgot the people who loved you, who would miss you, who would morn for you.

You threw off the darkness many times over you life but it always pulled you back. It made you sad but it made you feel safe. But it was not safe, it was a lie. The darkness took you and this time it will not let you come back to us. We miss your laugh, your crazy smile, Your light has been extinguished so we will light candles for you to show you the way.

Grab you bike, ride like the wind, jump like crazy, but know that you have left so many broken hearts behind. Family and friends who will remember and miss you forever and wonder why the darkness won.

Love you forever my dear son and hold you in my heart. Love Mom

Arla Elchesyn (Mom)
March 5th, 2016

It's with a heavy heart I take off my hard hat for a person who not only worked on my crew, but who really pushed himself to help others and help me Make It Right. Tommy worked on my crew on season 1 of Holmes Makes It Right. He was a character, and if you ever met Tommy you'd never forget him. He will be missed.

Mike Holmes