Books·Canadian

Beautiful Scars

Tom Wilson's Beautiful Scars is a memoir detailing his rough upbringing in Hamilton and the highs and lows of his music career.

Tom Wilson

Tom Wilson was raised in the rough-and-tumble world of Hamilton — Steeltown — in the company of World War II vets, factory workers, fall-guy wrestlers and the deeply guarded secrets kept by his parents, Bunny and George. For decades Tom carved out a life for himself in shadows. He built an international music career and became a father, he battled demons and addiction, and he waited, hoping for the lies to cease and the truth to emerge. It would. And when it did, it would sweep up the St. Lawrence River to the Mohawk reserves of Quebec, on to the heights of the Manhattan skyline. With a rare gift for storytelling and an astonishing story to tell, Tom writes with unflinching honesty and extraordinary compassion about his search for the truth. It's a story about scars, about the ones that hurt us, and the ones that make us who we are. (From Doubleday Canada

Why Tom Wilson wrote Beautiful Scars

"This was an odd house to be growing up in. I would ask, 'Bunny and George, how come you are older than the other parents?' And Bunny said, 'Tommy, there are things about you that I will take to my grave.' Imagine saying that to a kid! It left me dumbfounded. I kept asking that question until I was 14. I was made to feel too guilty — 'Your father, George, fought in the Second World War for you. How could you ask such a question?!' So I stopped. I had that question buried in me throughout my entire adult life. As a result, my relationships were often disastrous."

I believe that as I open up my heart and show love and the respect that my culture deserves, as I get up and start making changes that I can make for my people, then my culture is going to embrace me.- Tom Wilson

"I grew up thinking I was a big, puffy, sweaty Irish guy. I'm actually a big, puffy, sweaty Mohawk man. I'm not some white guy who is taking off his suit and tie and running off to a sweat lodge on the weekends. I was born Mohawk — I was a Mohawk baby and I'm becoming a Mohawk man.

"I believe that as I open up my heart and show love and the respect that my culture deserves, as I get up and start making changes that I can make for my people, then my culture is going to embrace me."   

Read more in his interview on The Next Chapter.

Interviews with Tom Wilson

Tom Wilson pays tribute at the 2017 Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame 5:08
Artist and musician Tom Wilson on his memoir, about family secrets and his journey of discovery. 18:34
Tom Wilson was in his mid-fifties when he learned that the parents who raised him were not his birth parents and that his biological mother was a family friend from the Kahnawake reserve. Now, Wilson is exploring his Indigenous heritage through painting. 16:45
Tom Wilson is a Canadian music icon with bands Blackie and the Rodeo Kings, Junkhouse and now, as Lee Harvey Osmond. But uncovering a web of family secrets set him off on a lifelong journey to reconnect with his identity. 40:11
Artist and musician Tom Wilson on his memoir, about family secrets and his journey of discovery. 18:34

 

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