For many Canadians, Saturday night was bittersweet. From coast-to-coast, Canadians gathered around their televisions to say farewell to one of the most iconic Canadian bands of all time, The Tragically Hip, as they ended their final tour in honour of lead singer, Gord Downie, who has inoperable brain cancer. Downie, 52, revealed in May that he had been diagnosed with glioblastoma, the most aggressive cancerous brain tumor. And despite his health, Gord put on a characteristically energetic performance with a 30-song set that included three encores. Even Canadian Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau was in attendance at the K-Rock Centre to show his support, saying, “Gord Downie is a true original who has been writing Canada’s soundtrack for more than 30 years”.
The Tragically Hip were very close to the hockey world, having made dozens of hockey references in their music including shout outs to Bill Barilko and Bobby Orr. Stories have been told of Gord Downie strapping on pads and being a regular at hockey rinks across Ontario, often trying to hide from the attention that comes from being a Canadian legend, but rather trying to fit in and just be another player on the ice like anyone else. That is part of the allure that draws Canadians to the Tragically Hip – they have always represented all that Canada stands for, and they do so very modestly, as if they’re just “one of the guys”.
From their love of hockey to their admiration of small towns across Canada, The Tragically Hip certainly hold a dear spot in the hearts of all Canadians. The Tragically Hip and Gord Downie, you will be missed.