The Tragically Hip’s frontman Gord Downie passed away last night. He was 53 years-old. Downie was a Canadian rock poet who united us all from coast to coast to coast with his commanding stage presence, patriotic lyrics, and emotional vocals. All Canadians are mourning today. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau stated: “we’re less of a country without Gord Downie in it”. Downie was Canada personified.
The singer was diagnosed with glioblastoma, an aggressive brain cancer in December 2015. Knowing the disease was terminal, and that the band couldn’t continue without Gord, the Tragically Hip completed a farewell tour in August 2016. The final show, in the Hip’s hometown of Kingston, Ontario, was broadcast live by CBC. Canadians across the country and the globe tuned in to say goodbye to the legendary band and iconic singer. People watched in their living rooms, bars, public parks, the streets of Bobcaygeon and other city squares – viewers danced, sang along, and celebrated the legacy of the Tragically Hip. They also shed tears as an era ended.
More than just a singer, Downie dedicated the last years of his life to reconciliation and indigenous rights. His legacy outside of music is the Gord Downie and Chanie Wenjack Fund. Downie was an advocate for Canada – he loved our country, the idea of our country, and all the people in it. His progressive thinking and poems (or rather, his “music at work”) have united Canadians in an everlasting, and profound way that challenges us to be better. Simply put, he was “ahead by a century”.
The Tragically Hip, and Gord Downie are Canadian treasures: deeply loved across the country, and already deeply missed.
Rest in Peace, Gord.
Written by Megan Cary
Feature Image Source: CityNews
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