Tom started Stompin’ in Timmins – by Ron Grech (Timmins Daily Press – March 8, 2013)

The Daily Press is the city of Timmins broadsheet newspaper.

Stompin Tom Connors’ Mining Songs:

TIMMINS – His patriotism, twangy music and storytelling lyrics made him a beloved Canadian icon. But for many Timmins residents, Stompin’ Tom Connors, who was born in New Brunswick, was as much a hometown hero as Shania Twain, Frank Mahovolich or Steve Sullivan.

Connors died Wednesday of natural causes at his home in Halton Hills, Ont. He was 77. Connors, who would go on to great fame, got his first break in Timmins.

He signed a contract to perform for 13 months at the Maple Leaf Hotel and recorded his first songs here at CKGB Radio, which was located in the old Thomson building, which was then shared by The Daily Press. He would end up recording 16 tracks at CKGB during his time in Timmins.

One of the first two songs he recorded was Carolyne which opens with the words: “T-I-M-M-I-N-S That’s going to be my new address, ’Cause I just got a new job working in the mine, Hollinger Mine.” Many city residents know it simply as the “Timmins song.”

Another Timmins-related track recorded during his time here was Fire In The Mine, which was a musical retelling of a tragedy which occurred in February 1965 at the McIntyre Mine.

Connors always expressed fond memories of those early days in Timmins. Whenever he was in the area, he made a point of visiting the Maple Leaf Hotel, where he got his start.

Legend has it that he wandered into the Maple Leaf in 1964 where he found himself a nickel short of a beer. The bartender, Gaet Lepine, agreed to give Tom a beer if he would play a few songs. These few songs turned into a 13-month contract to play at the hotel, a weekly spot on CKGB radio station in Timmins, eight 45-RPM recordings and the beginning of a professional career.

Lepine would become a lifelong friend and Connors would drop by the Maple Leaf whenever he was in the area.

“For the memories and the opportunities that were given me by the people of Timmins, I can only say that I have always taken great pride in mentioning your great city wherever I go, whether in song or otherwise,” Connors wrote in a letter published in The Daily Press ON March 7, 2002.

His letter was sent to lament the closing of the Maple Leaf Hotel, which he noted had provided his start as well as that of Shania Twain.The last time Connors performed in Timmins, which was Aug. 31, 1999, he told a Daily Press reporter – who fittingly enough interviewed him at the Maple Leaf Hotel – that he kept a memento that was given to him when the Thomson building was demolished. It was one of the glass bricks that made up part of the decorative facade from that old art deco building where he did his first recordings.

For the rest of this article, please go to the Timmins Daily Press website:

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