Last year on this date, Canada lost a musical legend: Stompin' Tom Connors.
Connors was born in 1936 in St. John, New Brunswick. His father was mostly absent and he grew up poor, moving with his mother from house to house as she moved from job to job in Nova Scotia and PEI. By 15, he left the east coast to hitchhike across Canada. He ended up travelling for more than a decade, eventually landing in Timmins, Ontario, where by chance he got a gig playing at a local hotel, which turned into a weekly spot on the radio.
Stompin' Tom became a folk icon in the 1960s and '70s, and his music became an indelible part of the Canadian music canon — after all, on most winter nights there's a good excuse to play "The Hockey Song" somewhere in this country.
Sculptor Tyler Fauvelle works on a clay model of the Stompin' Tom statue. (Photo: Fuel Media)
Now, Sudbury — the setting of another famous Tom hit, "Sudbury Saturday Night" — is about to give Stompin' Tom a permanent memorial. The Stompin' Tom Connors Commemorative Committee, a non-profit group dedicated to preserving Tom's music and memory, is leading a movement to erect a bronze statue of Stompin' Tom in downtown Sudbury. They've commissioned a sculptor, Tyler Fauvelle, and are now looking for the rest of the funding they'll need to make it happen. (They have about $10,000 of the roughly $50,000 cost, and are confident they'll be able to raise the rest of the funds in time to erect the statue later this year.)
"Stompin' Tom was a popular folk-country artist, a vocal supporter of Canadian culture, and an uncompromising patriot," Fauvelle told CBC.ca. "This sculpture could be anywhere, because Stompin' Tom was everywhere, singing extraordinary stories about ordinary people."
If you're a big Stompin' Tom fan , you can donate to the sculpture campaign on Indiegogo here.
On April 12, the Horseshoe Tavern in Toronto is hosting the second annual Stompin' Tom Memorial Show, featuring Canadian musicians like Sarah Harmer, Wayne Petti, Miranda Mulholland and lots more.
In honour of his long and storied career, we've collected a few favourite Stompin' Tom moments, which you'll find below.
Here, Stompin' Tom plays "Sudbury Saturday Night" live at the Horseshoe Tavern in Toronto in 1973:
Playing "Bud the Spud" in 2005:
Stompin' Tom singing "Halifax Song (Old Atlantic Shore)" in 1973:
Stompin' Tom with kd lang:
And of course, here's "The Hockey Song":