Come together

Something quite astounding happened over the weekend north of the American border.

The Canadian band, the Tragically Hip, played a concert in their hometown of Kingston, Ontario.

This was no ordinary concert, however.

It was a coming together of sorts...for fans, for Canadians and for the country; to celebrate music, community, and perhaps, most

You see...Gord Downie, the lead singer and lyricist of the band, was diagnosed with an incurable brain tumour this past December.

In an effort to deal with this diagnosis as a band and perhaps give thanks to a country and a people that have embraced them for nearly 30 years, Gord and the boys hit the road in July for their Man Machine Poem Tour. 

The final concert fittingly took place in the city of their origin; the original capital of Canada.

It was in Kingston that five high school friends began their first tentative steps as a rock band.

Having attended the same High School, I was perhaps, one of the lucky ones to have witnessed first hand their humble beginnings. Little did I know as they played our High School Formal, that 30 years on they would be considered by many to be one of the greatest Canadian bands...and Gord Downie one of its finest poets.

As I reflect and reacquaint myself with their music and the country of my own upbringing, I see clearly that the power and heart of Saturday night's concert comes from the response it evoked from the country and its people. 

Canadians seemed united in purpose; a bittersweet celebration punctuated by nostalgia, joy, sadness, pride and gratitude.

The CBC, Canada's national TV and radio broadcasting network, pre-empted their Olympic coverage on Saturday night in order to broadcast and live stream the almost three hour concert commercial-free.

Hundreds of viewing parties cropped up in bars and backyards, theatres and outdoor venues.

The Prime Minister of Canada, Justin Trudeau, attended the final concert wearing a Tragically Hip t-shirt and rocking out to the music. 

"Somehow the Tragically Hip are an inevitable and essential part of what we are and who we are as a country." 

The Toronto Police department sent out a tweet on Saturday night informing the world:

"Please be advised that Canada will be closed tonight at 8:30 pm ET. Have a #Tragically Hip Day."

Ex-patriots connected on-line...checking to see if friends around the world were watching.

In small and big ways, the Tragically Hip seemed to speak to and for a nation and its people.

Perhaps then, it is no surprise that for the past 30 years, the band have represented, reflected and provided the soundtrack to many a Canadian life.

And on Saturday night

it seemed as if 

breath was once again breathed into all of those lives...

a mosaic of sorts

reflected and compressed

into one magical moment in time.

And in that moment...

we were afforded the time and space to take it all in...

the dizzying swiftness and joy of life.

And as the band played on,

we were filled with

music and memories

people and poetry

joy and sadness

life and death.


in that moment

we once again




our true north.

For as Gord would say, "No dress rehearsal, this is life."

Oh, Canada indeed.


* in honour of this very Canadian event, I used very Canadian spelling, eh?!

PS. Here's to Jeffrey who hosted one of those backyard gatherings.

Lana Bastianutti