Stompin' Tom Connors, who died on 6 March at the age of 77, was a singer and songwriter whose toe-tapping musical spirit and fierce patriotism established him as one of Canada's biggest cultural figures. Although wide commercial appeal eluded Connors for much of his four-decade career, his songs are regarded as veritable national anthems thanks to their unabashed embrace of all things Canadian.
The musician, rarely seen without his black cowboy hat and cowboy boots, was best known for songs "Sudbury Saturday Night," "Bud the Spud" and especially "The Hockey Song," a fan favourite played at hockey arenas around North America. Those three songs are played at every Toronto Maple Leafs home game, and at Air Canada Centre on the evening of his death fans took to their feet as "The Hockey Song" was played.
Dubbed Stompin' Tom for his habit of pounding the floor with his left foot on stage, Connors garnered a devoted following through straight-ahead country-folk tunes that drew inspiration from his travels around Canada, dating back to his itinerant teenage years when he roamed the country working one job or another.
He felt he was a lonely voice in writing about Canada. "I don't know why I seem to be the only one, or almost the only one, writing about this country," he said in 2008. "This country is the most underwritten country in the world as far as songs are concerned. We starve. The people in this country are starving for songs about their homeland."