'Even bigger than we had anticipated': Jay Scotland visits Tom's old stompin' grounds
The Stompin’ Tom Centre opened on Canada Day
Tom Connors spent about five years in Skinners Pond, P.E.I., before he started his singing career, and before he added "Stompin'" to his moniker.
It took more than two decades for residents of the hamlet to get the money together to build the tribute to Stompin' Tom.
Connors was born in Saint John, N.B., before going into the care of Children's Aid at age eight.
A year later he was adopted by a family in Skinners Pond.
He travelled the country singing songs and gaining fame, and in the 1970s he bought the Skinners Pond schoolhouse which became a place to show off his memorabilia to the public.
The site was eventually closed and his records and pictures were shipped to his home in Ontario, but in 2013 Connors made sure people knew he considered Skinners Pond home, and supported the idea for the centre.
Anne Arsenault, general manager of Tignish Initiatives, says she met with Connors several times during the planning process, and that his family were impressed at the opening.
"His family all attended, his son, his wife, his grandson," she said.
"I think it was an emotional weekend for them. They were very pleased with what we put together here and they actually presented us with a plaque in appreciation and recognition for all the hard work in putting this project together."
'Creates another draw'
Arsenault said the centre has been a benefit for the entire community, and that some visitors travelled across the country for the opening.
"It creates another draw to the region and we're finding over the summer that it was actually even bigger than we had anticipated," she said.
The centre is open from June 1 to Sept. 30, offering live entertainment every day and a dinner theatre that Arsenault said "was a big hit."
"Lots of good reports and reviews so we're going to continue on next year. We look forward to welcoming everyone in to visit the centre and take part in the entertainment."
There are exhibits of Stompin' Tom's achievements and accolades, the one room schoolhouse he attended as a child, a gift shop, and on-site food service.
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With files from Jay Scotland