Canadian History for Kids!
Sketches of Canada for March 6th!
Thomas Charles “Stompin’ Tom” Connors passed away March 6th, 2013. Connors was a well known Canadian country and folk signer/songwriter. This Canadian History for Kids, Sketches of our Canada, looks at the remarkable career of Stompin’ Tom.
Connors, focused his career exclusively on his native Canada. He is credited with writing more than 300 songs and has released four dozen albums, with total sales of nearly 4 million copies. His songs have become part of the Canadian cultural landscape. A fun Canadian history for kids fact is that three of his best-known songs — Sudbury Saturday Night, Bud the Spud and The Hockey Song — play at every home game of the Toronto Maple Leafs hockey team. The Hockey Song is played at games throughout the National Hockey League.
But let’s talk about Stompin’ Tom’s origins in this Canadian History for Kids article. He was born Thomas Charles Connors in Saint John, New Brunswick at midnight on February 9, 1936 at the General Hospital in Saint John, New Brunswick. Connors spent a short time living with his mother in a low-security women’s penitentiary before he was seized by Children’s Aid Society and was later adopted by a family in Skinners Pond, Prince Edward Island.
At the age of 15 he left his adoptive family to hitchhike across Canada, a journey that lasted 14 years. He travelled between various part-time jobs while writing songs on his guitar, literally singing for his supper. In the coldest part of winter, he welcomed vagrancy arrests in order to have a warm place to sleep.
At a stop in Timmins, Ontario, got his “break”, as he found himself a nickel short of a beer at the city’s Maple Leaf Hotel. The bartender, Gaet Lepine, agreed to give Tom a beer if he would play a few songs. These few songs turned into a 14-month contract to play at the hotel, a weekly spot on CKGB radio in Timmins, and eight 45-RPM recordings.
Typically writing about Canadian lore and history, some of Connors’ better-known songs include “Bud the Spud”, “Big Joe Mufferaw”, “The Black Donnellys”, “The Martin Hartwell Story”, “Reesor Crossing Tragedy”, “Sudbury Saturday Night, “The Hockey Song” and “Wop May.”
Throughout his years, Tom never lost touch with Gaet Lepine and the two co-wrote many songs together. These songs are featured in Stompin’ Tom’s 250 Songs songbook.
Now let’s look at some of the many awards that Stompin’ Tom recieved during his long career in this Canadian History for Kids article:
- Juno Awards, Country Male Vocalist of the Year (1971–1975) and Country Album of the Year (1974, for To It And At It).
- In 1993, a Doctor of Laws degree honoris causa from St. Thomas University, which was the inspiration for his album titled Dr. Stompin’ Tom Connors, eh?, released the same year.
- In 1996, Officer of the Order of Canada.
- In 2000, a Lifetime Artistic Achievement award for Popular Music from the Governor General’s Performing Arts Awards
Stompin’ Tom was often quoted by the press about his love for Canada. He often said, “If you don’t believe your country should come before yourself, you can better serve your country by livin’ someplace else.”
And that’s this week Canadian History for Kids Sketches of Canada!