Eight thousand police officers in two columns stretching a kilometre stood at attention along Yonge Street, as a hearse carrying slain Constable Garrett Styles rolled past escorted by six pall bearers and preceded by the officer's cruiser, a black veil shrouding its lights.
Then, the ribbons of blue wheeled around and fell in line behind the funeral procession, filling the suburban street. The air was still and silent on a sweltering Tuesday morning, the only sounds were the buzzing of a police helicopter circling overhead, the swish of uniforms and the soft footfalls of thousands of boots on the asphalt.
While this was all done to honour one officer, it was also a moment of catharsis for a community still wondering how a few moments on a rural road could leave one man dead and change four local teens' lives irreparably.
It was near the end of the night shift one week earlier that Constable Styles pulled over a van, allegedly driven by a 15-year-old boy who had taken it from his parents to ride with three friends. When the officer tried to remove the keys from the ignition, police say, the boy took off, dragging him 300 metres before the vehicle flipped and pinned him.
The incident happened less than a half-hour drive from where Constable Styles grew up, the son of a York Regional Police officer, and where, as a child, he painted his wagon in the force's colours and patrolled the neighbourhood dressed in his father's oversized uniform, fining drivers 25 cents.
He went to a local high school, graduated from police college in 2004, and after a stint as a patrol officer in a neighbouring town, was posted to Newmarket's police station. His first date with his wife, Melissa, culminated in a long walk at Fairy Lake near the heart of town.
Just a few minutes away from that idyllic place, in a recreation centre packed to capacity, Ms. Styles recalled those times in a tearful eulogy.
"From the first time we went out, I knew we had something special beginning. You didn't always know what to say and didn't try with empty words. A hand squeeze or a hug let me know you were there for me and I was loved," she said as the couple's children - Meredith, 2, and 10-week-old Nolan - looked on, along with dignitaries including Lieutenant-Governor David Onley and Premier Dalton McGuinty.
Outside, throngs of people lined the procession route. In a town of 80,000, where there are often only a few degrees of separation between people, the effect of the officer's death was clear.
"There's not one person that wasn't hit by it and hit hard," said Kaitlyn Robinson, 22, who knows Constable Styles's sister. "It was devastating."
Lori Porter, a 47-year-old office manager, brought her sons, 10-year-old Jeffrey and 7-year-old Jordan, to watch, hoping that they could learn from the tragedy.
"It was a horrible, split-second moment that [the teens]will have to live with for the rest of their lives," she said. "That was a lesson."
Discussion of the teenagers - and particularly the boy alleged to have been driving, who faces a first-degree murder charge and is said to be paralyzed as a result of injuries from the crash - has been another constant in the town over the past week.
"It's a senseless, preventable tragedy," said 35-year-old Stephanie Lobraico, a makeup artist in nearby Aurora, who came to pay her respects. "At age 15, you should know the difference between right and wrong."
Friends of the boy, meanwhile, took to social networking sites to defend him and call on fellow citizens to let the justice system decide the case.
But all that tension was subdued by the ritual of the funeral, and the strength of the police officers who came - from as far afield as Vancouver and Ohio - to commemorate a man who gave his life working for the community where he had spent nearly all of it.
"His most heroic act was the day he embraced this profession and willingly accepted a lifetime of risk," Chief Eric Jolliffe told the service. "He was a hero during the countless nights he patrolled York Region while the vast majority of our citizens slept in the quiet of comfort and safety of their homes, all because Garrett and other officers like him were out there."