Canada lost a beloved poet/musician. The Tragically Hip, Gord Downie's band, originated in 1984 in Kingston, with high school chums who were an amazing band over their 30 years. Unlike many Canadian artists, Downie refused to leave Canada to seek his fortune in the US. He was born in Amherstview, which we passed through on day 2 of our Kingston trip.
|The Hip – c1988|
|Moyia Misner-Pellow - Flickr|
The Tragically Hip undertook a final Canadian tour, so that their fans could say goodbye to Gord Downie, and Gord could say goodbye to Canada. He was an amazing poet, musician, environmental advocate, humanist, with many awards and many, many Canadian fans. The final concert, in Kingston on Aug. 20, 2016, was broadcast across Canada, ad-free. It was spectacular.
Gord died Oct. 17th (1964 – 2017), and Kingston is in mourning. Flags are half-mast everywhere. There are many signs mourning his loss. There will be a celebration of life at some point, it'll be a grand event, I am sure. He was loved so much.
Gord Downie wrote songs that are authentically Canadian, diverse, and rich in feeling, images and emotions. Bobcaygeon is my favourite tune, and I hear it often in my mind's eye. The town of Bobcaygeon we passed often, travelling between Ottawa and Muskoka.
It was a little after nine
It was in Bobcaygeon,
I saw the constellations
Reveal themselves, one star at time
Downie's last work was "The Stranger, "(see theYouTube video) which chronicles the heartbreaking story of a young First Nations boy, who died trying to run away from residential schools. This is the first full chapter and song of The Secret Path. Adapted from Gord Downie’s album and Jeff Lemire’s graphic novel, The Secret Path chronicles the heartbreaking story of Chanie Wenjack’s residential school experience and subsequent death as he escapes and attempts to walk 600 km home to his family. He was not the only child to die this way.
Gord was honoured by First Nations, for his work on this project, one of our steps in Truth and Reconciliation in recovering from the horrific treatment of our First Nations peoples by colonial settlers right across North America.
|Gord was honoured by First Nations|
This is the memorial in Market Square, with mural paper for signatures, as well as a book I signed. In the evening, people were gathering to sing Downie's songs, and celebrate his life, with the square lit by a red light.
Scenes from Market Square in Kingston pic.twitter.com/kPPjdCu3u7— Matthew Kupfer CBC (@matthewkupfer) October 18, 2017
"For the next generation to come, if there's one thing I can tell you, it's that you were born from strength." #SecretPath #SecretPathGD pic.twitter.com/aFcpwBuhcV— Downie Wenjack Fund (@downiewenjack) October 23, 2017