A Canadian Giant has fallen with the Passing of Gord Downie

A Few Words of Tribute from Niagara, Ontario resident and long-time public servant and Tragically Hip fan Patrick Robson

Posted October 20th, 2017 on Niagara At Large

Gord Downie, during a Tragically Hip concert at Artpark in Lewiston, New York in 2009, File Photo courtesy  of Kelly Robson

Canadians from coast to coast, Canadian ex-pats across the globe, and music fans everywhere  who were fortunate enough to be touched by the poetry and passion of the Tragically Hip, were collectively and deeply saddened to learn of the passing of the band’s frontman, Gord Downie.

Privately, his family has our thoughts and prayers as they deal with their profound sense of loss. Canada’s  Prime Minister, expressing the sentiment felt by millions, wept openly and unashamedly.

Gord was a giant in Canadian music, to be sure. But far more than that, he was a giant as a Canadian citizen.

When we hear the word ‘giant’, we naturally tend to think in physical terms.  However, according to the Oxford dictionary, an equally appropriate definition of the word is ‘a person of outstanding ability and influence.’ That certainly describes Gord Downie.

In 2016, we learned of his battle with brain cancer, and we all had to face the reality that he wouldn’t be with us long.  And yet, driven by his desire to continue the relationship of mutual appreciation and love that the band has with Canada, its people and its culture and history, they embarked on a tour of thanks to the legion of fans, and to the country as a whole.

 I wrote a piece at the time, reflecting on the tour, as well as a side of Gord Downie many may not have realized existed – the champion of Great Lakes environmental issues specifically and the advocate, more generally, for protecting the precious gift of water globally.

Gordon Downie on stage in London, Ontaro, August 8th, 2017, during the last Tragically Hip tour, File photo by Kelly Robson

Since that time, Gord and the band were rightfully recognized with the Order of Canada.  Gord continued producing more music, shined a spotlight on the plight of Indigenous peoples, and invited all of us to do our part to redress the centuries of inequity, unfairness and cruelty that has been the hallmark of how our First Peoples have been treated. 

That our Prime Minister had the emotional reaction he did may seem remarkable. But it is entirely understandable. It is not as though the notion of a person accomplishing ‘giant’ things for Canada is foreign or new to him.  His own father was responsible for patriating our constitution, after more than a century of British rule – a monumental legal feat in Canada’s history and evolution.

Gord Downie, through his music, art, passion for Canada’s stories and its people, and his genuine Canadian-ness, has accomplished something at least equal,

 He  brought the country’s people a unifying patriotic pride for who we are and who we are yet to become. He’s pushed us all ahead by a century.

          Patrick Robson.

Patrick Robson is a resident of the Niagara, Ontario Township of Wainfleet, a Tragically Hip fan, and strong believer  in good environmental stewardship for today and for future generations.

To visit the column Patrick Robson wrote for Niagara At Large as Gord Downie and the Tragically Hip were finishing their Farewell Tour in the summer of 2016, clikc on –

https://niagaraatlarge.com/2016/08/16/another-side-to-tragically-hips-gord-downie-2/ .

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