When Fred Connors heard that a woman named Loresa Makonin had died in a Halifax cycling accident last week, he immediately went online to find out if it was his old friend of the same name.
But online searches yielded no website, no blog, no social media pages from the woman he had first met when she was a NSCAD student 25 years earlier. Eventually he confirmed that the woman who died on Purcells Cove Road last week was his friend.
"We've lost the life of a very special woman who made the things she did — large and small — have an impact," said Connors, who runs the popular FRED salon and café on Agricola Street.
"She was an immensely talented artist, a world traveller, she was incredibly spirited, she was a great raconteur."
She didn't need that external validation of the things that she did being interesting ... on social media. - Fred Connors
Connors said Makonin lived on Purcells Cove Road and was likely cycling home when she died. He said the athletic woman loved to ride, and would even refuse lifts during blizzards or heavy rain.
"Loresa embraced cycling the way a warrior would," he said. "She liked the challenge of being a cyclist on the road. She was immensely athletic and immensely competent on a bike."
When not in Halifax, Makonin often travelled to Jamaica to immerse herself in reggae festivals before setting off on her next adventure. Connors met her when she was an art student and he took a NSCAD photography course more than two decades ago. She had just arrived from Vancouver and the two hit it off.
"It's a testament to the impact she had on my life as a relative stranger who came in for a haircut and remained my friend for 25 years," he said.
Alone with the world
They kept in touch over the years and he always looked forward to seeing her "big giant smile" pop up at a party, or drop by his north-end home for a chat.
But despite being a world traveller and an artist, she seems to have created no digital footprint.
"She didn't need that external validation of the things that she did being interesting, or the life that she was living being courageous or worthwhile, from strangers on social media," he said. "Loresa was really a force."
Connors said the fact the even he knew relatively little about her wider life showed she was a person content to be alone with the world.
"I consider myself a very long-term friend of Loresa's, but I don't think that I am as close to Loresa as a friend could be, because she didn't need people to be close to her," he said.
Her art hangs in his business. He also keeps a photo he took of her way back in those NSCAD days. They both worked in the Green Lantern building on Barrington Street and she was always willing to put on a fancy outfit and pose for him.
"I love it because she's laughing, screaming — it represents my youth as much as it represents hers."
He treasures the photo all the more because it's one of the very few images of his friend.
Connors said the fatal accident should serve as a reminder for pedestrians, cyclists and motorists to look out for each other.
Police say Makonin was travelling along Herring Cove Road when she collided with a truck making a lawful right-hand turn onto Purcells Cove Road. Police said they won't be laying charges.