Stompin’ Tom gave Canadians sense of identity

Years ago, while many Canadians felt they were lacking a sense of identity, Stompin’ Tom Connors was belting out a tune

By Rick Zemanek, Black Press

Years ago, while many Canadians felt they were lacking a sense of identity, Stompin’ Tom Connors was belting out a tune to sell-out crowds about “the boys are getting stinko … on a Sudbury Saturday night.”

There is magic in song. And Stompin’ Tom, with his insightful, down-to-earth lyrics that hit home for many, reminded Canadians they indeed have a sense of identity — and one to be proud of.

Since his death last Wednesday at the age of 77, praises have been overwhelming on what that lanky entertainer with the black cowboy hat, and a stomping left foot that pounded holes in sheets of plywood on stage, meant to Canada.

There’s his famous The Hockey Song that described perfectly, right down to the last note, what hockey meant to its fans — many of which were parents of the baby boomers. They were glued to the TV every Saturday night with the legendary Foster Hewitt electrifying viewers with an enthusiastic play-by-play call of the action. Hearts pounded, and Hewitt was frantic, when the Toronto Maple Leafs’ Eddie Shack went roaring down the ice along the boards on his patented breakaways.

Besides the workers at Inco in the nickel belt of Sudbury, Ont., getting ‘stinko,’ Stompin’ Tom also belted out tunes that painted true-grit living from the East Coast to the West. He sang about the friendly folks struggling to make a living on the East Coast by growing. He stomped across Canada with tunes about the Yukon, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta, and all the way to the British Columbia Coast.

He reminded us a sense of humour was priceless in life, and taught Canadians there was nothing wrong with laughing at themselves. And indeed they laughed with Stompin’ Tom’s lyrics tugging at their heartstrings. And if there ever was a doubt on a sense of identity, Canucks would say: “Hey, this guy is singing about us.”

He loved Canada, he loved its people and he loved the country’s diversity of multi-cultures.

“He is synonymous with the word ‘Canada’,” said Brian Edwards, president of Rocklands Entertainment, in an Internet report. “He was so popular it was beyond belief.”

Stompin’ Tom’s reputation was so overwhelming that a poll showed 97.6 per cent of Canadians knew who he was, while only 58 per cent knew who the prime minister was.

“Everyone can relate to (his songs),” Edwards said. “From a governor general to steelworkers in Hamilton. It’s such a rarity.”

Prime Minister Stephen Harper (most Canadians know who his is) tweeted over the Internet: “We have lost a true Canadian original. R.I.P. Stompin’ Tom Connors,” Harper wrote. “You played the best game that could be played.”

Indeed he did; and it was a bumpy skate on dull blades. Born in Saint John, N.B., on Feb. 9, 1936, he was taken from his parents at a young age and raised by foster parents in Skinners Pond, P.E.I., until age 13. His struggles through the early years to survive — living in poverty, orphanages, later riding in boxcars, hitchhiking and working the mines — cultivated his inspirations in song.

Yahoo News reported he was trying to put a Canadian stamp on music. In 1976, a defiant Stompin’ Tom returned all six of his Juno awards to protest the Americanization of the Canadian music industry.

At the time, many Canadian artists (“turncoat Canadians” called by Stompin’ Tom) migrated to the U.S. music scene, yet were nominated for Canada’s Juno awards.

“Gentleman: I am returning herewith the six Juno awards that I once felt honoured to have received and which I am no longer proud to have in my possession,” he wrote to the awards’ board of directors.

“As far as I am concerned, you can give them to the border jumpers who didn’t receive an award this year and maybe you can have them presented by Charley Pride.” He added: “I feel that the Junos should be for people who are living in Canada …”

Stompin’ Tom was fiercely patriotic. He had a big heart and a big love for Canada. If some Canadians still feel they have no sense of identity, they haven’t been listening to Stompin’ Tom who illustrated through song what this country is all about.

With 61 albums to his credit, “He wrote the soundtrack of Canada,” some have said.

Just Posted

Alberta Fish and Wildlife Officers ask for the public’s help with unsolved poaching cases

Officers are seeking tips on five separate incidents in the Stettler & Camrose areas in November 2017

Stettler Hospital to host a pregnancy nutrition class later this month

Registered Dieticians will discuss strategies and tips for new and expecting mothers

Stettler Town Council lays out 2018 Strategic Plan

Five priorities identified for the Town to tackle this year

A Look Back – Stettler Independent Archive Files

Originally Submitted By: Margaret Connon and Mary-Jane Jackson Updated By: Landin Chambers

Town of Stettler joins AUMA’s call for more equitable police funding

Letter will be written to local MLA supporting a new police funding model

WATCH: Red Deer celebrates one year out from 2019 Canada Games

Community gathers at Great Chief Park to commemorate Games milestone

How to keep local news visible in your Facebook feed

Facebook has changed the news feed to emphasize personal connections. You might see less news.

VIDEO: B.C. deer caught obeying traffic signs

A herd of deer in Fernie, B.C. is getting attention online after stopping for a stop sign

Petition wants fundraiser dropped for family of man cleared in Boushie’s death

Group says GoFundMe is profiting from the young Indigenous man’s death

Porch lights turn on for Canadian teen behind #BeccaToldMeTo movement

New Brunswick’s Rebecca Schofield had asked her Facebook followers to perform random acts of kindness

Calgary man dies in Mexico following sudden illness

Troy Black was with his wife, Lindsay, in Puerto Vallarta when he began vomiting blood on Thursday

Virtue and Moir break their own world record

Virtue and Moir break short dance record to sit first in ice dance at Olympics

New doping charge could hurt Russia’s chance at reinstatement

Russia could lose its chance to be reinstated before the end of the Winter Olympics because of a doping charge against curling bronze medallist Alexander Krushelnitsky.

‘Black Panther’ blows away box office with $192M weekend

In estimates Sunday, Disney predicted a four-day holiday weekend of $218 million domestically and a global debut of $361 million.

Most Read


Weekly delivery plus unlimited digital access for $50.40 for 52 issues (must live within 95 kilometers of Stettler) Unlimited Digital Access for one year for $50.40 Prefer to have us call you? Click here and we’ll get back to you within one business day.