In Memoriam

A cowboy hat ...
Photo by Frank McTighe, The Macleod Gazette.
A cowboy hat worn by Brokeback Mountain star Heath Ledger sits on Table 25 in the Java Shop alongside roses sent by an admirer following the actor’s death.


Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Tribute to dead actor sent to Java Shop


The death of a Hollywood star touched Fort Macleod.

A rose was delivered every day for four days last week to Table 25 in the Java Shop, made famous by Heath Ledger in a scene from Brokeback Mountain.

“They have been delivering one flower a day,” Java Shop owner Vasant Patel said Friday.

Ledger, who starred as Ennis del Mar in the award-winning 2005 movie, died January 22 in an apartment he rented in the SoHo district of New York City.

Patel, who placed the cowboy hat Ledger wore in Brokeback Mountain on the table beside the roses, said Table 25 has been popular since the movie debuted.

“People want to see where he sat down and ate,” Patel said.

The groundbreaking movie about two gay cowboys gained fans world-wide, and they made pilgrimages to Fort Macleod to see first-hand scenes where the movie was shot.

“I had a lady from Japan,” Patel marveled.

Brokeback Mountain fans would often come to the Java Shop, determine which table was the one at which Ledger sat, and then order apple pie just as Ennis del Mar ate in the scene. “They come from all over the world,” Patel said.

People often made a day trip from Calgary to visit Table 25, while others came from as far away as Germany and Switzerland.

The scene filmed in the Java Shop was a pivotal one in which Ennis del Mar was confronted by his girlfriend Cassie and officially ended his relationship with her. People who sought out the real-life places in which the movie was shot found the Java Shop welcoming.

“You could go in and become a part of it for a short time,” said Lauren Gurney, who has done research for the Internet site

“There was life there, life that was welcoming to fans of the movie. You could make a connection if you wanted to, or just sit there with your apple pie and coffee and replay the scene in your mind.”

In an e-mail interview, Gurney said it’s not surprising the movie is so popular. “It’s a tragic love story, first and foremost, and it resonates with people for different reasons, depending upon what baggage they bring to the theater with them,” Gurney explained.

“For many, this was their life playing out on the screen, and not only for homosexuals. Opportunities missed or not taken, feelings denied or covered up—these themes apply to everybody. For others it was about a certain part of their being that was lost somewhere while growing up, and they wanted to regain that. Whatever the personal reason, it packed a huge emotional punch for a great number of people.”

The daily roses were delivered to the Java Shop from Village Greenery and Gifts in Fort Macleod.

The actor’s death gained international attention on Internet discussion boards on Web sites dedicated to Brokeback Mountain, including and

[Reprinted with permission.]