Walking around Kingston this week, there is an undeniable buzz in the air. Our tour guides are talking about it. Our customers are talking about it. It feels as if the entire country is talking about it.
The Tragically Hip are coming home for one last show on August 20th.
The Haunted Walk and The Hip have several interesting connections. We both share our beginnings with and owe a lot of our success to Kingston, Ontario. We also share a passion for telling incredible stories based on historical events. Below are just a few examples of Hip storytelling:
- 50 Mission Cap – The disappearance of Bill Barilko
- Bobcaygen – Christie Pits riot in Toronto
- Wheat Kings – The wrongful imprisonment of David Milgaard
- Fireworks – ’72 Summit Series
- Born in the Water – Sault St. Marie becomes an “English-only” city
- Nautical Disaster – Sinking of the Bismarck
Of particular note is a little-known song called Skeleton Park. This bonus track was only included with pre-orders of the 2009 album, We Are The Same, on iTunes. “Skeleton Park” which is formerly known as McBurney Park, served as Kingston’s primary cemetery until 1850. The song tells of a love story set among the dancing ghosts of the park. Over the past 20 years we have been recounting the haunted history of the park to tens of thousands of guests. The story is even featured in our popular book, Ghosts of Kingston, published in 2007. Is it possible that we contributed, in some small way, to a Tragically Hip song? We’d certainly like to think so.
The final weeks of August always seem rushed. The unrealized potential and plans of early summer only have a precious few days left to come to fruition. The days of flips-flops, cottages, bonfires, days on the lake and evenings under the stars are almost done for another year. We all know it. We all feel it. Winter is coming and we are racing against the clock.
This is what makes Saturday’s concert so bittersweet. Not many bands get the chance to finish on top with an audience of millions of their countrymen and women, wildly and lovingly, cheering them on. This is more than just a concert. Saturday night will be a celebration of Gord, The Hip, Kingston and in many ways, Canada itself. It will be like nothing we have ever seen before.
The cruelness of the circumstances are thankfully muted by the outpouring of love and support. Yet, it is hard not to feel that something is being taken unfairly from us. The prospect of losing a figure that united so many of us in such a uniquely Canadian way is heartbreaking. It becomes difficult not to reflect upon on our mortality, and the mortality of those, like Gord, that we love.
Poet Dylan Thomas famously wrote, “Do not go gentle into that good night,” and to “rage, rage against the dying of the light.” Whether you will be at the K-Rock Centre this Saturday or watching the concert somewhere else with friends and family, we will raise our voices together and rage against the dying of the light from coast to coast to coast.
The future be damned. We will celebrate five guys from our hometown who dreamed big and found a place in the hearts and minds of an entire nation. Saturday may write the final chapter in the history of the band, but what a glorious conclusion it is going to be. A final chapter in the treasure trove of Gord Downie and The Tragically Hip stories that we love to share.
And what a night it was!!! Amazingly, 11.7 million people across Canada, or roughly 1/3 of the country’s population, joined in on the celebration on TV, radio or streaming online. Here is a small sample from the emotional and moving concert: