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Stompin' Tom Connors
Stompin tom connors in 2002.jpg
Connors in 2002
Background information
Birth name Charles Thomas Connors
Also known as Tommy Messer, Stompin' Tom Connors
Born (1936-02-09)February 9, 1936
Saint John, New Brunswick, Canada
Origin Skinners Pond, Prince Edward Island, Canada
Died March 6, 2013(2013-03-06) (aged 77)
Ballinafad, Ontario, Canada
  • Musician
  • songwriter
  • Vocals
  • boot
  • guitar
Years active
  • 1964–1978
  • 1988–2013
  • EMI
  • Boot
  • Rebel
  • Dominion
  • Cynda
  • ACT

Charles Thomas "Stompin' Tom" Connors, OC (February 9, 1936 – March 6, 2013) was a Canadian country and folk singer-songwriter. Focusing his career exclusively on his native Canada, he is credited with writing more than 300 songs and has released four dozen albums, with total sales of nearly four million copies.

Connors' songs have become part of the Canadian cultural landscape. Among his best-known songs are "Sudbury Saturday Night", "Bud the Spud" and "The Hockey Song"; the last is played at various games throughout the National Hockey League, including at every Toronto Maple Leafs home game. In 2018, the song was inducted into the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame in a ceremony at a Leafs game.

Early life

Charles Thomas Connors was born on February 9, 1936, at the General Hospital in Saint John, New Brunswick, to Isabel Connors and Thomas Joseph Sullivan.

Isabel's family were Irish Protestants, and his maternal grandfather, John Connors, was a sea captain from Boston, Massachusetts, who had died before Charles was born. His father was a Catholic of Irish ancestry, and "may have been Métis or ... Micmac." Isabel Connors and Thomas Joseph Sullivan did not marry until 30 years later, as Sullivan's family were devout Catholics and did not want him marrying a Protestant; they later divorced. Sullivan's mother gave him $10, and he was told to leave home. Connors was also a cousin of New Brunswick fiddling sensation, Ned Landry.

Connors' first home was on St. Patrick Street, in the "poorest and most rundown part of Saint John". He lived there with his mother, his maternal grandmother Lucy Scribner, and his maternal stepgrandfather Joe Scribner When Connors was three, Lucy and Joe died within weeks of each other. This forced Isabel to move to a two-bedroom apartment. Around this time Isabel got pregnant again by Tom's father when he briefly returned, and Tom got a taste of hitchhiking when he and Isabel went to visit relatives in Tusket Falls, Nova Scotia. This trip was the first time he saw his mother steal to feed them, when she stole food from a Chinese restaurant in Yarmouth, Nova Scotia. When they returned to Saint John, they moved in with friends of Isabel and she gave birth to Tom's sister Marie, who had to stay in hospital to have a birthmark removed. Later, Isabel and Tom moved in with her new boyfriend Terrence Messer at the corner of Clarence and Erin Streets. While they did not marry, the family would take on his surname. Terrence and Isabel did pretend to be married to find a place to live, due to the moral standards of the time. The family was quite poor, and Terrence was a neglectful stepfather, who spent most of the family's money on wine. When they missed paying rent, the family was evicted and moved to a house on St. Patrick Street. Marie finally came home from the hospital then, but she died when Tom was four, following more surgery to remove another birthmark. To make ends meet, Isabel got a job scrubbing floors and Terrence did odd jobs. The family was evicted again after a spat with the landlord when Tom started a fire in their apartment. Their next home was a basement apartment on King Street.

Connors spent a short time living with his mother in a low-security women's penitentiary before he was seized by Children's Aid Society and later adopted by Cora and Russell Aylward in Skinners Pond, Prince Edward Island.

At 13 he ran away from his adoptive family to hitchhike across Canada. He got his first guitar at 14, and at 15 he wrote his first song called "Reversing Falls Darling". His hitchhiking journey consumed the next 13 years of his life as he travelled among various part-time jobs while writing songs on his guitar, singing for his supper. He worked in mines and rode in boxcars, and in the coldest part of winter he welcomed vagrancy arrests for the warm place to sleep. At his last stop in Timmins, Ontario, he found himself a nickel short of a 35-cent beer at the city's Maple Leaf Hotel. Tom told the bartender to put the cap back on the bottle and he'd head for the Sally Ann, but the bartender, Gaëtan Lepine, accepted the 30 cents and offered him a second beer if he would open his guitar case and play a few songs. These few songs turned into a 14-month run at the hotel, a weekly spot on CKGB in Timmins, eight 45-RPM recordings, and the end of the beginning for Tom Connors.

Musical career

Connors was never part of the Canadian musical establishment, and his style was quite different from other Canadian icons such as Leonard Cohen or Gordon Lightfoot. He could, however, be characterized as a passionist poet within Canadian culture, similar to Milton Acorn and Stan Rogers.

Typically writing about Canadian lore and history, some of Connors' better-known songs include "Bud the Spud", "Big Joe Mufferaw", "The Black Donnellys", "The Martin Hartwell Story", "Reesor Crossing Tragedy", "Sudbury Saturday Night", and "The Hockey Song". This last, often incorrectly called "The Good Old Hockey Game," is frequently played over sound systems at National Hockey League (NHL) games.

Throughout the years, Tom never lost touch with Gaëtan Lepine, the bartender he befriended in Timmins; in fact, the two wrote many songs together. These songs are featured in 250 Songs by Stompin' Tom: Including All the Words and Chords.

In 1968, he composed and sang a radio jingle for a Sudbury-area tire store, Duhamel & Dewar, in exchange for a set of winter tires.

During the mid-1970s Connors wrote and recorded The Consumer, an ode to bill-paying that became the theme song for the popular Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) consumer affairs program Marketplace. For the first few seasons, Connors appeared in the program's opening credits, before "The Consumer" was replaced as the theme—initially by an instrumental background version and ultimately by a different piece of music.

In 1974 Tom had a series running on CBC Television in which he met and exchanged with folks from all across Canada. Stompin' Tom's Canada was co-produced with the CBC, and consisted of 26 half-hour episodes.

The song that Tom wrote in the least time was "Maritime Waltz", which was completed in 12 minutes.

His character was rough but genuine.

In 1999, after completing a 38-city tour, Connors received the National Achievement Award at the annual SOCAN Awards held in Toronto.

In 2009, Connors was the recipient of the prestigious Lifetime Achievement Award at the annual SOCAN Awards in Toronto.


Connors' habit of stomping the heel of his left boot to keep rhythm earned him the nickname "that stompin' guy", or "Stomper". It wasn't until Canada's 100th birthday, July 1, 1967, that the name "Stompin" Tom Connors was first used, when Boyd MacDonald, a waiter at the King George Tavern in Peterborough, Ontario, introduced Tom on stage. Based on an enthused audience reaction to it, Tom had it officially registered in Ontario as Stompin' Tom Ltd. the following week. Various stories have circulated about the origin of the foot stomping, but it's generally accepted that he did this to keep a strong tempo for his guitar playing—especially in the noisy bars and beer joints where he frequently performed. After numerous complaints about damaged stage floors, Tom began to carry a piece of plywood that he stomped even more vigorously than before. The "stompin'" board became one of his trademarks. After stomping a hole in the wood, he would pick it up and show it to the audience (accompanied by a joke about the quality of the local lumber) before calling for a new one. It was reported that when asked about his "stompin' board", Tom replied, "it's just a stage I'm going through". Connors periodically auctioned off his "stompin' boards" for charity, with one board selling for $15,000 in July 2011.

Favourite guitar

Tom's favourite guitar was a Gibson Southern Jumbo acoustic that he purchased in 1956 while on his way through Ohio to Nashville, Tennessee and Mexico. He discovered it in a furniture store, hidden in a case on top of a shelf and, after some haggling, purchased it for $80 (he had $90 with him). The guitar was used to audition in 1964 at the Maple Leaf Hotel in Timmins, as well as for writing Bud the Spud four years later. Although retired in 1972, it remained in his possession. It has subsequently been refurbished, a birthday gift from his wife Lena. The serial number inside the guitar reads 2222 in red stamped numbers and the actual age of the guitar is still unknown.


Connors released music on seven different labels. His earliest foray into recording was on the CKGB Timmins radio station label. These 45 RPM singles were pressed by Quality Records in Toronto, and distributed (and paid for) primarily by Tom. His first two albums (and two subsequent 45 RPM singles) were released on the Rebel Records bluegrass label, under the name "Tom Connors". These two albums were subsequently re-released on Dominion Records under the Stompin' Tom moniker and had to be totally re-recorded due to a dispute with Rebel Records owner John Irvine.

Most of Connors' well-known albums were released on Dominion Records (1969–70), and after 1971 on the Boot Records label that he co-founded with Jury Krytiuk and Mark Altman. His releases on Dominion (and all subsequent releases) were done under the name "Stompin' Tom Connors". Most of the Rebel and Dominion albums would be reissued (and in some cases, re-recorded) under the Boot label, and would represent the bulk of his recorded material. It was released on 3313 RPM record albums, 45 RPM record singles, 8-tracks, and cassette tapes.

After his retreat from the music business in the late 1970s, he started the A-C-T (Assisting Canadian Talent) label in 1986, and released two albums: Stompin' Tom is Back to Assist Canadian Talent and his comeback album, Fiddle and Songs in 1988. A-C-T also re-released Tom's back catalogue on cassette tapes only.

All of his subsequent releases (and re-releases) have been through Capitol Records / EMI. Most of this work is now available on Compact Disc. In recent years, many of his album releases have included at least one re-recording of one of his earlier songs.

Promoting Canadian artists

Connors founded three record labels, which promoted not just his own work, but that of other Canadian artists:

  • Boot Records, together with its budget label Cynda, which were active in the 1970s and 1980s
  • A-C-T, active from the late 1980s

Among artists who were featured on these labels were Liona Boyd, Rita MacNeil, The Canadian Brass, Dixie Flyers, Charlie Panigoniak, among others.

Songs referencing Canadian historical events

The following is a list of events in the history of Canada which have been the subject of a song by Connors, who is widely renowned for singing about both well-known and little-known episodes in the country's past.

Song Summary
"Reesor Crossing Tragedy" 1969 song about the Reesor Siding Strike of 1963.
"Tillsonburg" When Stompin' Tom worked in the tobacco fields of Tillsonburg, Ontario.
"Wop May" About the Canadian pilot Wilfrid R. "Wop" May.
"The Bridge Came Tumblin' Down" 1972 song about the collapse of the Ironworkers Memorial Second Narrows Crossing.
"The Curse of the Marc Guylaine" 1973 song about the fishing trawler Marc Guylaine which saw two sister-ships and two identical ships all sink under inexplicable circumstances.
"Big Joe Mufferaw" About the French-Canadian logging legend Joseph Montferrand.
"The Martin Hartwell Story" About the bush pilot Martin Hartwell who survived 31 days in the Northwest Territories.
"Algoma Central 69" About the historical Algoma Central Railway.
"The Black Donnellys' Massacre" and "Jenny Donnelly" Both about the Black Donnellys
"The Last Fatal Duel" 1973 song about Robert Lyon.
"Fire in the Mine" About the Hollinger Mines fire in Timmins, Ontario.

Personal life

Connors married Lena Welsh on November 2, 1973. The ceremony was broadcast live on Elwood Glover's Luncheon Date on CBC Television. During an interview on the show, he said they had chosen to get married on television to share this happy moment with his fans across the country whose support had rescued him from a difficult pre-showbusiness life. Connors had a son, Taw Connors. He also had another son Tom jr.

Connors was a heavy smoker—estimated to consume 100 cigarettes a day. On tour, he had to drive the lead truck, and could never be the last person to go to bed, and that often meant that his fellow musicians had to keep up with his pace.

Connors always wore his black Stetson in public, and refused to remove it for any reason, even when meeting Queen Elizabeth II at a dinner in Ottawa in October 2002. Buckingham Palace smoothed the way by likening Mr. Connors's hat to a religious headdress such as a nun's habit or a Sikh's turban. However, Connors did go hatless during his nationally-televised wedding on CBC-TV to Lena Welsh.

Retirement and nationalist protest

As the 1970s progressed, he retired to his farm at Ballinafad, near Erin, Ontario, to protest the lack of support given to Canadian stories by the policies of the Federal government, particularly the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC). He also boycotted the Juno Awards in protest of the qualification guidelines set by the Canadian Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (CARAS) for possible nominees who were being consistently nominated and awarded outside of their musical genre. He strongly opposed artists who conducted most of their business in the United States being nominated for Junos in Canada. Connors, who referred to these particular artists as "turncoat Canadians", felt that in view of the fact that they had chosen to live and work in the U.S., it was only fair that they competed with Americans for Grammy Awards, and left the Juno competition to those who lived and conducted business in Canada.

His protest caught national attention when he sent back his six Junos accompanied by a letter to the board of directors.

He remained in retirement for 12 years, only returning to the studio in 1986 to produce a new album to promote Canadian artists. That year, Tim Vesely and Dave Bidini of Rheostatics crashed his 50th birthday party and published an article about it in a Toronto newspaper, initiating a resurgence of public and record label interest in his work which resulted in the release in 1988 of Fiddle and Song, his first new album since 1977.

Guest of honour on Late Night

Connors' music is rarely heard outside Canada, with the possible exception of his anthemic "The Hockey Song" which has been recorded by many artists and played regularly within the arenas of the National Hockey League. It has been suggested that Connors refused to allow foreign release of his material, although a more likely reason is that the very Canadian-specific subject matter of many of his folk songs has resulted in limited demand in foreign markets. When Late Night with Conan O'Brien taped a week's worth of shows in Canada in 2004, Connors was one of the guests of honour, leading the Toronto audience in a rendition of "The Hockey Song"; this was one of the few times Connors performed on American television. Another Canadian-taped installment of Late Night featured a segment in which Triumph the Insult Comic Dog visited Quebec; a parody of Connors' "Canada Day, Up Canada Way" is heard during the segment.

Dispute with the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation

According to Connors' promoter, Brian Edwards, the CBC had expressed interest for Connors to do a music special since 1990. Connors shot and edited a live concert presentation at Hamilton Place at a cost of over $200,000 of his own money in September 2005. Edwards said that a copy was presented to the CBC's head of TV variety and that he received a reply the next day telling him that a decision would be reached within a few weeks. After 10 weeks, another email was then sent to the newly appointed programming VP, and a prompt reply came back that said that the broadcaster was moving away from music and variety programming and that the Connors special did not fit with its strategy.

Edwards said that he received another letter from the CBC that reinforced its lack of interest in the concert special but said that Connors would have been a great guest to perform a song on the network's Hockeyville series or an excellent subject for a Life and Times project.

In 2014, the soundtrack to the unbroadcast special was released posthumously on CD by Universal Music Canada.


Stompin' Tom: Before the Fame is an autobiography detailing Connors' childhood years in an orphanage, and as a farm labourer. It was a runner-up for the Edna Staebler Award for Creative Non-Fiction in 1996 and became a bestseller in 1997. It details his life before becoming famous. In 2000 Connors wrote his second autobiography The Connors Tone.

Death and memorial service

Connors died of kidney failure on March 6, 2013 at his home in Ballinafad. He refused to seek medical treatment, as he was skeptical of the benefits of medical technology. On March 7, flags were lowered to half-mast at the National Arts Centre in Ottawa, and also in Tillsonburg, to mark his death. On March 9, that following Saturday night, Hockey Night in Canada broadcast a special tribute to Connors at the opening of its broadcast.

In a 1995 interview, Mr.

On March 7, several members of the federal New Democratic Party caucus, led by former musicians Charlie Angus and Andrew Cash, performed a group rendition of Connors' signature song Bud the Spud in the foyer of the House of Commons of Canada in tribute.

In addition to reports and obituaries published in the Canadian media, his death was also reported by The New York Times, BBC News and the Xinhua News Agency.

A memorial was held on March 13, 2013 at the Peterborough Memorial Centre in Peterborough, Ontario. Tommy Hunter attended, and the celebration included speeches by former governor general Adrienne Clarkson and Ken Dryden. Testimonials were given or read from others, including Roméo Dallaire, Rita MacNeil and Liona Boyd. Before his death, Connors had personally selected the artists who would perform:

Tribute Artists
Peterborough Postman, The Blue Berets, The Ballad of Stompin' Tom and The Hockey Song (videos) Stompin' Tom Connors
Fiddle medley of traditional music (The Maritime Waltz) Billy Macinnis
Man in the Black Hat Tim Hus
Little Wawa and Gumboot Cloggeroo (medley) J.P. Cormier and Dave Gunning
Farewell to Nova Scotia Sylvia Tyson and Cindy Church
The Bridge Came Tumbling Down Dave Bidini
Coal Boat Song Damhnait Doyle
So Long Stompin' Tom Mike Plume
I am the Wind Mark Laforme

He was subsequently buried at Erin Union Cemetery in Erin, Ontario.

Connors was also the subject of a video tribute at the 2013 East Coast Music Awards on March 10.


Sudbury fullsizeoutput 3202 (30570601568)
The 2015 bronze statue of Stompin' Tom, with Connors' left hand positioned for chord of C-, one of the major chords in the song Sudbury Saturday Night

The following honours were conferred on him:

  • From the Juno Awards, Country Male Vocalist of the Year (1971–1975) and Country Album of the Year (1974, for To It And at It)—all subsequently returned in 1978. He left instructions that the Junos were not to celebrate him after his death.
  • In 1993, a Doctor of Laws degree honoris causa from St. Thomas University, which was the inspiration for his album titled Dr. Stompin' Tom Connors, eh?, released the same year.
  • In 1996, Officer of the Order of Canada.
  • In 2000, a Lifetime Artistic Achievement award for Popular Music from the Governor General's Performing Arts Awards.
  • In 2000, an honorary LL.D. from the University of Toronto.
  • In 2002, an honorary Litt.D. from the University of Prince Edward Island.
  • In 2009, a SOCAN award for Lifetime Achievement.
  • In 2014, it was announced that a commemorative statue would be located in downtown Sudbury, ON.

In 1993, he declined to be inducted into the Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame.

In The Greatest Canadian list, he ranked thirteenth, the highest placing for any artist on the list. Connors was one of four musicians pictured on the second series of the Canadian Recording Artist Series issued by Canada Post stamps on July 2, 2009.



From 1991, Connors recorded his albums at Escarpment Sound Studio in Acton, Ontario.

Year Album Chart Positions CRIA
CAN Country CAN
1967 The Northlands' Own Tom ConnorsA
1968 On Tragedy Trail
1969 Bud the Spud and Other Favourites Gold
1970 Stompin' Tom Meets Big Joe Mufferaw
Merry Christmas Everybody
1971 Live at the Horseshoe
My Stompin' Grounds 71
Love & LaughterB
1972 Stompin' Tom and the Hockey Song
1973 To It and at It
Northlands Zone
1974 Stompin' Tom Meets Muk Tuk Annie
1975 The North Atlantic Squadron
1976 The Unpopular Stompin' Tom Connors
1977 Stompin' Tom at the Gumboot Cloggeroo
1986 Stompin' Tom Is Back to Assist Canadian TalentC
1988 Fiddle and Song
1991 More of the Stompin' Tom Phenomenon
1992 Believe in Your Country 9
1993 Dr. Stompin' Tom Eh? 28
1995 Long Gone to the Yukon 5
1999 Move Along with Stompin' Tom
2000 The Confederation BridgeD
2002 An Ode for the Road
2004 Stompin' Tom and the Hockey Mom Tribute
2008 The Ballad of Stompin Tom
2012 Stompin' Tom and the Road's Of Life
2014 Unreleased Songs From The Vault Collection-Vol. 1
Live Concert Soundtrack
2017 Stompin' Tom Connors
2018 Unreleased Songs From The Vault Collection (Vol. 3)
2021 Unreleased Songs From The Vault Collection Volume. 4: Let's Smile Again


Year Album CAN Country CRIA
1970 Stompin' Tom Connors Sings 60 Old Time FavouritesA
1971 Stompin' Tom Sings 60 More Old Time FavouritesB
The Best of Stompin' Tom Connors
Pistol Packin' Mama
Bringing Them Back
1973 Across This LandC
1980 Souvenirs
1990 A Proud Canadian Platinum
1991 Once Upon a Stompin' Tom
1993 K.I.C. Along with Stompin' Tom 26
1998 25 of the Best Stompin' Tom Souvenirs 12 Platinum
2001 Sings Canadian History
2006 Live Concert (DVD) 2× Platinum
2014 Unreleased Songs from the VaultD


Year Single Chart Positions Album
CAN Country CAN AC
1969 "Bud the Spud" 26 "Bud the Spud and Other Favourites"
1970 "Big Joe Mufferaw" 1 "Stompin' Tom Meets Big Joe Mufferaw"
"Ketchup Song" 1 "Bud the Spud and Other Favourites"
"Luke's Guitar" 2
1971 "Snowmobile Song" 40 "My Stompin' Grounds"
"The Bridge Came Tumbling Down" 2
"Tillsonburg" 12
"My Stompin' Grounds" 31
"Name the Capital" 34
1972 "Moon-Man Newfie" 1 "Love & Laughter"
"The Bug Song" 9 18
"Fire in the Mine" 24
1973 "The Consumer" 59 "Stompin' Tom and the Hockey Song"
"Martin Hartwell Story" 30 "To It and at It"
"Poor Poor Farmer" 68 "Stompin' Tom Meets Big Joe Mufferaw"
"Algoma Central No. 69" 67
"Don Messer Story" 40 "To It and at It"
1974 "To It and at It" 42
"Streaker's Dream" 34 "Stompin' Tom Meets Muk Tuk Annie"
1975 "Jack of Many Trades" 24 "The North Atlantic Squadron"
1989 "Canada Day, Up Canada Way" 29 "Fiddle and Song"
"I Am the Wind" 40
1997 "The Confederation Bridge" 79 "The Confederation Bridge"

Other charted songs

Year Single Chart Positions
2013 The Hockey Song 29

Music videos

Year Video
1989 "I Am the Wind"
1991 "Margo's Cargo"


  • North of Superior (1971) – includes a performance by Connors
  • This Is Stompin' Tom (1972) – includes a performance by Connors
  • Across This Land with Stompin' Tom Connors (1973)
  • Stompin' Tom's Canada (1974–1975) – TV series
  • Stompin' Tom in Live Concert (2006) – TV special

Other creations

In 1976, Connors created and sold a perpetual calendar that cross-references dates to days of the week, which is valid for all years from 1 to 3100 AD. It was released to Harrowsmith's Truly Canadian Almanac in 2012.

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