TORONTO – Even at the height of his success on Glee, Cory Monteith returned frequently to his native country for work, play and good causes.
Monteith was found dead in a Vancouver hotel room on Saturday. He was 31.
Last summer, Monteith was in Halifax to play a department store manager in the independent film All the Wrong Reasons.
“Love it here,” he tweeted at the time, before asking his followers to recommend restaurants and coffee shops in Halifax.
The role brought back memories to Monteith, who briefly worked as a Walmart greeter in Nanaimo and at The Bay in Victoria before his acting career took off.
All the Wrong Reasons also stars Canada’s Emily Hampshire, Karine Vanasse and Kevin Zegers.
“My heart is broken,” Zegers tweeted early Sunday. “I’ve never lost a friend this close. This feels like a mistake.”
Hampshire tweeted: “RIP Cory. so so sad. such a loss.”
“My thoughts are going to you @CoryMonteith,” wrote Vanasse.
In June 2011, more than 100 people waited outside a Virgin Mobile store on Montreal’s St-Catherine Street at Drummond to catch a glimpse of Monteith, who arrived in an RV with Virgin Group founder Sir Richard Branson.
On the store’s second level, Monteith spoke about solving youth homelessness in Canada.
“It’s a problem we can all come together to solve,” he said. “I struggled a lot when I was a kid. I had a lot of trouble, so it’s very close to me and it’s important to me that I’m here today to bring awareness to this and to motivate other people to get involved as well.”
Read more: A look at his life and career
Two years earlier, Monteith joined Branson in Toronto’s Yonge-Dundas Square to kick off the toque campaign in support of Raising the Roof, which helps homeless youth.
On Sunday, Branson remembered Monteith as a “beautiful soul” and a “lovely human being with a big heart.”
“We’ll never forget watching him on the streets in Canada working with homeless teenagers, inspiring and giving a lifeline of hope to young people who were overwhelmed that he took the time to walk beside them to listen and share his own story,” he said. “It is with deep sadness that we join with others to thank Cory for all he did to make a difference in other young people’s lives.”
Former Virgin Mobile Canada marketing director Nathan Rosenberg, who spent a lot of time with Monteith in Toronto and Montreal, said there was much more to the man who played Finn Hudson on Glee.
“I got to work with him on tackling big social issues and saw the real him – a kind, compassionate and truly giving person,” he said, from Australia. “He was committed to helping others who needed a hand up and the joy that brought him was unmistakeable. That’s who he really was and that’s how he should be remembered.”
Monteith also added his star power to the 2010 Gemini Awards, held at Toronto’s Elgin Theatre.
“It’s such an honour to be able to come back and represent the country to the rest of the world,” he said on the red carpet.
But it wasn’t all work for the actor when he was back in Canada. He made repeated trips to B.C. to visit friends and family.
In May, shortly after leaving rehab, Monteith brought girlfriend (and Glee co-star) Lea Michele to Vancouver to spend time with his mother Ann. The pair was also spotted attending a Canucks vs. Sharks game.
In 2012, Monteith and Michele spent the U.S. Thanksgiving weekend skiing in Whistler.
Monteith also had relatives in Saskatoon, where he was seen last December.
Although born in Calgary, Monteith spent most of his early life in Victoria with his mother and older brother Shaun following his parents’ divorce.
Monteith travelled occasionally to Oromocto, New Brunswick to spend time with his father Joe and stepmother Yvette.
“I’m just so so proud,” the star’s father told the Telegraph-Journal. “He’s a down-to-earth, honest type of person. It’s not going to his head as far as I can see … Fame has not gotten to him as maybe you notice with some other stars.”
Here are some photos of Monteith in Canada: