'Even bigger than we had anticipated': Jay Scotland visits Tom's old stompin' grounds

Tom Connors spent about five years in Skinners Pond before he started his singing career, and before he added 'Stompin’' to his moniker.

The Stompin’ Tom Centre opened on Canada Day

CBC's Jay Scotland went out to visit the Stompin' Tom Centre in Skinners Pond, P.E.I. and spoke with Anne Arsenault, general manager of Tignish Initiatives. (Randy McAndrew/CBC)

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.

Jay checks out the new Stompin' Tom Centre 2:51

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.

The Stompin' Tom Centre in Skinners Pond was decades in the making. (Randy McAndrew/CBC)

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. 

'Emotional weekend'

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.

The Stompin Tom Centre opened on Canada Day this past summer. (Randy McAndrew/CBC)

"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 Stompin' Tom Centre has plenty of memorabilia of his career. (Randy McAndrew/CBC)

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.

With files from Jay Scotland