LIVING

Hundreds Attend Rene Angelil's Funeral In Montreal

01/22/2016 01:10 EST | Updated 01/22/2017 05:12 EST

Rene Angelil was remembered Friday as a loving father, a bon vivant and a man who helped put Quebec culture on the international map.

Angelil's funeral was held at Montreal's Notre-Dame Basilica, the same church where he and singer Celine Dion were married in 1994, more than a decade after he became her manager.

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The superstar walked to her seat holding the hands of her five-year-old twins Nelson and Eddy as the service began at 3:20 p.m. with a taped rendition of Dion's version of the appropriately named ''Trois heures vingt.''

Patrick Angelil, one of the deceased's three adult children from two previous marriages, told the service his father treated others the way he wanted to be treated himself.

''If he couldn't always be there with us, he never missed a chance to declare his love for us,'' he said of the impresario, who died of throat cancer last week at the age of 73. ''All our life, our father told us, 'I love you.'

''And now, more than ever, we realize how exceptional it was to have had a father who never hesitated to utter such precious words.''

Angelil also said his father shared his passions, especially his love of gambling.

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''When we were very young, we all learned we had to say 'Please' and 'Thank you,' that we had to look left and right before crossing the street and that at blackjack, if you have a five and a six, you have to double your bet.''

He was followed at the podium by Rene-Charles, the oldest of the three Dion-Angelil children and who will turn 15 on Monday.

''You had a busy life but we were communicating through golf, hockey, poker and smoked meat,'' he said to laughter _ ''and a lot of other wonderful food, bonding more and more as time went by.

''You left me now with enough good memories of you to share with my younger brothers. As they grow older, without you being around, I'll make sure to pass on what I've learned from you.

''You are a tough act to follow but with your help, everything is going to be fine. Dad, I promise you here that we're all going to live up to your standards. Je t'aime papa.''

Dion's family accepted Premier Philippe Couillard's offer for the government to play a role in the organization of the funeral.

Former prime minister Brian Mulroney described Angelil as a ''terrific gentleman'' who will be sorely missed.

''He was a giant, Rene, and together they created the biggest success story in showbiz in Canadian history,'' Mulroney told reporters before the service.

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Sophie Gregoire-Trudeau (right), wife of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, arrives at Montreal's Notre-Dame Basilica.


Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who is in Davos for the World Economic Summit, was represented by his spouse, Sophie Gregoire.

Others attending included Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre, NDP Leader Tom Mulcair, Couillard and ex-premiers Bernard Landry and Jean Charest.

Landry said Angelil managed to give Quebec an ''international reputation'' over the years.

''Celine, in her category, is the biggest of her time,'' he added.

Couillard previously announced the flag at the legislature would fly at half-mast Friday.

Angelil had three other adult children from two previous marriages.

A celebration of his life will take place Feb. 3 at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas.

Funérailles de René Angélil