Stompin’ Tom remembered for Northern roots – by Sebastien Perth (Sudbury Star – March 8, 2013)

The Sudbury Star is the City of Greater Sudbury’s daily newspaper.

Stompin Tom Connors’ Mining Songs:

The ties Stompin’ Tom Connors formed with Northern Ontario are legendary.

Connors, who was surrounded by his family when he died Wednesday night at age 77, often credited the Maple Leaf Hotel in Timmins for launching his professional career and the song he penned at the Townehouse Tavern — Sudbury Saturday Night — in 1965 became one of his biggest hits.

Charlie Angus — musician and Member of Parliament for Timmins-James Bay — says Connors showed Canadians who they were through his writing.

“I think what Tom did that was so important is that he put our experience and our places on the cultural map of Canada. I was talking to a woman who said when she was 11, she memorized Sudbury Saturday Night. She had never been there, but her dad worked at Stelco so she thought Stelco was like Inco and it was.

“My grandfather had been at the McIntyre mine (in Timmins) where the fire had been and Tom wrote the song and it gave chills to hear it. We thought we had that special relationship,” Angus said. Townehouse manager Paul Loewenberg said Connors captured the city very well when he wrote Sudbury Saturday Night in 1965.

“You walked into a bar at 5 p.m. and you see all the shift work people getting off work and everybody is having a tray of draft,” said Loewenberg. “That’s what people did. There was no real television, people weren’t going out to camp. You went to the bar and forgot about the tough workdays.”

“Having done a thousand Sudbury Saturday nights at the Townehouse, I can say that it is ingrained in our DNA.”

Mark Browning, member of Canadian- touring band Ox, said Canada has lost a lot since Connors first started writing.

“Canada doesn’t exist anymore in a way it used to exist,” said Browning. “It was a country of small towns and it was a country of mom and pop stores, and bars and everything. Now it’s country of Tim Hortons road stops. All the people he writes about are the people that ran those places, that went to these little places. The people in the bar, the people in the diners, the workers, they are the salt-of-the-earth kind of Canadians. We’re all still here, but I think we’ve lost something that he gives us a window onto.”

Angus said he got to see songs come to life in front of him.

“I remember the first time I played the Townehouse with the Grievous Angels and we did Sudbury Saturday Night and it was like watching the movie unfold in front of us and we were just the soundtrack. It was haywire. People were dancing on tables and there was beer being spilled and fights breaking out and it was just a chaotic, wonderful night. I felt, I’m part of the soundtrack of Canada and this song has to be played here tonight.”

Loewenberg said the song every Sudburian hears about when they leave the city was written in the middle of a three-week stay.

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