His boot-stompin’ music continues to define a piece of Canada’s cultural mosaic — and in tribute, the Stompin’ Tom Centre in Skinners Pond, P.E.I., will open its doors to the public on Canada’s 150th birthday.
“He is truly an iconic Canadian,” said Anne Arsenault, general manager of the Centre, “And we’ve very happy to be able to honour him in that way, to have the grand opening on Canada 150.”
The $1.2 million facility includes the singer-songwriter’s boyhood home as well as the one-room schoolhouse he attended. The centre piece of the $1.2 million project is the new concert hall, where Connor’s gold and platinum records, guitar, and distinctive black hat and boots, with other memorabilia, will be on permanent display.
Stompin’ Tom kicked his way into music history with hard-driving rhythm of his cowboy boots pounding stages in small towns and big cities across Canada. The lyrics to his songs — Bud the Spud and The Hockey Song, among them — belt out clear-eyed, plain-talkin’ descriptions of Canada and its people.
There’s even a recording studio on site, where visitors can belly-up to the mic and sing along to the gravel voiced minstrel.
“I think everyone knows most of the words to all his songs,” said Arsenault, “So we’re looking forward to it.”
‘A very, very fond place in his heart for Skinners Pond’
Connors died in 2013 at the age of 77.
He was born in Saint John and after being placed in Children’s Aid as a child, was adopted by a family in Skinners Pond.
He lived in the small fishing and farming community in the northwest tip of P.E.I. just four years, but something about the Island kept him rooted there, according to Arsenault.
“I had opportunity to meet with him on several occasions throughout the planning stages and he had a very, very fond place in his heart for Skinners Pond,” said Arsenault.
Family members to attend grand opening
Members of the Connors family will attend Saturday’s grand opening, as will some of the musicians who performed with him over his long career.
Official ceremonies begin at 2 p.m. The first annual Stompin’ Tom Fest kicks off at 4 p.m., and continues Sunday.
Even Sunday’s annual Irish Moss Parade in nearby Tignish has adopted a Stompin’ Tom theme this year.
With the opening of the Stompin’ Tom Centre, the boy from Skinners Pond has a new — and lasting — place to hang his iconic hat.
“That’s where he called home and he always wanted to see something happen here,” said Arsenault. “So he’d be very, very pleased with everything that’s happening here at the site.”