Some people say that Canada has two national anthems: “O Canada” and “The Hockey Song” by Stompin’ Tom Connors.
The Canadian icon passed away on March 6, at the age of 77, leaving a hole in the heart and soul of the country.
Connors was a folk musician and a fierce Canadian patriot. He made his way up and down the country, documenting every square inch of every little Canadian town in his songs. He got his nickname because as he played and sang on stage, he stomped his cowboy booted left foot in time to the music.
The songs Stompin’ Tom wrote and sang were songs that Canadians connected with and which drew them together. They were simple, singable and relatable. Songs like “The Hockey Song,” which recounts a hockey game, period by period. Or “Bud the Spud,” about a trucker driving a load of PEI potatoes across Canada. Or Sudbury Saturday Night, which tells the tale of ordinary folks enjoying themselves in an Ontario town.
It’s nearly impossible to hear a Stompin’ Tom song and not sing and clap along.
Connors came from humble beginnings in St. John New Brunswick. As a child, he begged for money from passersby with his teenage mother; he was later raised by foster parents until he ran away at the age of 13. He spent the next 20 years travelling the country doing odd jobs, hitchhiking and playing his music in bars.
Most of his songs celebrate his love of Canada. It was his fierce patriotism that prompted him to return all six of the Junos (Canadian music awards) he’d won. He did it to protest “the Americanization of the Canadian music industry,” when Junos were awarded to people who may have been born in Canada but who lived and worked in the U.S. Connors wanted the Canadian music awards to recognize Canadians who, like himself, supported the country.
Connors was given many honours over the years including becoming an Officer of the Order of Canada, having his own postage stamp and being awarded three honourary doctorate degrees.
Connors recorded 61 albums, 10 of which have not yet been released to the public.
Just before he died, Connors wrote a note to Canadians. In it, he said:
It was a long hard bumpy road, but this great country kept me inspired with its beauty, character, and spirit, driving me to keep marching on and devoted to sing about its people and places that make Canada the greatest country in the world.
I must now pass the torch, to all of you, to help keep the Maple Leaf flying high, and be the patriot Canada needs now and in the future.
Connors is survived by his wife Lena, two sons, two daughters and several grandchildren.
By Jonathan Tilly
Stompin’ Tom wrote songs about Canada and being Canadian. Sometimes he would write about places in Canada and sometimes he would write about the different people who live there. Now it’s your turn to “help keep the Maple Leaf flying high.” Write lyrics to a song about Canada and / or the people who live there.
Reading Prompt: Extending Understanding
Stompin’ Tom was a legendary folk singer. But what is folk music? Have you heard folk music before? What are the characteristics of folk music? If you’ve never heard folk music before, using the information in this article and the name itself, what do you think folk music would sound like?
Extend understanding of texts by connecting the ideas in them to their own knowledge and experience, to other familiar texts, and to the world around them (OME, Reading: 1.6).
Extend understanding of texts by connecting the ideas in them to their own knowledge, experience, and insights, to other familiar texts, and to the world around them (OME, Reading: 1.6).
Extend understanding of texts, including increasingly complex or difficult texts, by connecting the ideas in them to their own knowledge, experience, and insights, to other familiar texts, and to the world around them (OME, Reading: 1.6).
Grammar Feature: Quotation Marks
Quotation marks ( ” ) are punctuation marks that can be used in many different ways. One of the ways that writers use quotation marks is to show their readers the title of things. When writing the title of a book, song, movie, etc., writers place quotation marks on either side of the title. For example, “Knuffle Bunny,” “Love Me Do,” and “Monsters Inc.” are different titles that are all written with quotation marks on either side.
Underline all of the titles in today’s article and circle the quotation marks that are used on either side.