MONTREAL - The disappearance of Matthew Besner came to a tragic ending Tuesday morning as his body was found by police in the Lachine Canal in Old Montreal.

The 27-year-old man was last seen shortly before 3 a.m. Sunday morning outside L'Orignal restaurant on St. Alexis near Notre Dame.

Montreal police Const. Daniel Lacoursière said Tuesday it appears Besner tried to walk from north to south across the frozen canal but fell through the thin ice at least "two or three times."

Lacoursière said there were no signs of violence or foul play, and there is no reason to believe Besner's death was anything but an accident. Lacoursière said it appears he died of hypothermia.

"He proceeded to the south shore, but unfortunately he wasn't able to come up, because he was wet, and he froze," he said.

Friends who were at the scene Tuesday said Besner was a joyful and happy man who was in no way suicidal.

"It's just a terrible, terrible, terrible thing," said Adam Grill, adding that they had talked excitedly about the upcoming holidays and vacation plans before he went missing.

Nearby workers spotted the body at around 8:15 a.m. Tuesday.

Besner was found wearing the same clothes he had on when he went missing, and his identification was with him.

Firefighters were called in to retrieve the body because the ice was so thin.

Friends say Besner went outside the restaurant for some fresh air, and when they came out to meet him a few minutes later, he was gone.

Before 3:00 a.m., he sent a text message to his girlfriend saying he would be home soon.

"To know Matthew is to love Matthew," said family friend Ziggy Zalezniak. "He was a kind hearted, compassionate man who would never do anything to harm anyone."

A search began early Sunday morning when Besner did not return home, and on Monday, family and friends of Besner met outside the restaurant and continued searching the area.

The search party grew into the hundreds throughout the day Monday, as the search expanded into the grander downtown area until the morbid discovery Tuesday morning.

Besner's family was still dealing with the shock Tuesday, but was receiving emotional support from their loved ones.

"They're in crisis, they're shocked," Zalezniak said. "They can't believe it happened."