British Columbia

Homeless 'flower man' remembered

Family, friends and strangers have said goodbye to one of downtown Vancouver's more colourful characters.
Thomas Sawyer was known for giving flowers to passersby in Vancouver. ((Judy Graves))

Family, friends and strangers said goodbye Wednesday to one of downtown Vancouver's more colourful characters.

Thomas Sawyer was best known as a kindly and unobtrusive homeless man who sold flowers.

Sawyer, 55, died of massive internal injuries March 7 after he was found in an alley near Richards Street. Police assume he met with foul play.

Dozens of photos on display at a gathering in Sawyer's memory Wednesday showed Sawyer as a smiling groom, as a restaurant owner in Mexico and as the youngest of seven children who grew up in Toronto.

His brother Doug Sawyer said Tom got married in Mexico and had a son. But Doug said his brother showed up at his door one day following a deeply traumatic event, which he would discuss with no one.

Sawyer soon moved to the streets of downtown Vancouver, where he met people like flower-stand owner George Garrison.

Garrison said Sawyer would help open and close his small business on Granville Street.

"I don't think I've got over [his death]," Garrison said. "So many people miss him."

Garrison said he knew Sawyer for almost 10 years.

"He just had this charm. He could talk to people. He had stories for everyone."

Vancouver police say want to talk to the two men caught on this surveillance camera video recording. ((VPD))

Sawyer became known as "the flower man of Yaletown," often giving away blossoms to passersby.

As part of the investigation into Sawyer's death, Vancouver police have released surveillance video from the night he died, showing two men walking toward and then away from the place where Sawyer's body was found.

Police admitted Wednesday that the investigation was proceeding slowly.