Stompin’ Tom Connors famously sang “I’ve been everywhere, man”, and these lyrics were no exaggeration. Beyond being a Canadian music legend, the man was an ardent patriot and explorer, and he penned lyrics about life in almost every corner of our nation. In honour of Tom’s passing and his lifelong commitment to storytelling, this week our map is dedicated to the Canada of Stompin’ Tom Connors’ vast discography.
Stompin’ Tom’s music told the tales of lumberjacks, long-distance drivers, shipwreck captains and hitchhikers through richly illustrated lyrics that emphasized the journeys they took across the Canadian landscape. (Sometimes there was a pretty woman at the end of these adventures, at other times a well-earned cold beer.) Some songs told of those who stayed closer to home, like “The Peterborough Postman” and “TTC Skidaddler”, a tribute to Toronto’s streetcar drivers.
Beyond telling the stories of everyday workers across the country, Tom sang about folk heroes and larger-than-life personalities like Big Joe Mufferaw, Canada’s answer to Paul Bunyan, immortalizing them in our national mythology. He celebrated the diversity of the country’s physical geography from the mountains to the Maritimes, as well as the highways and rail lines that crisscross the nation – he dedicated several songs to particular routes, like the 401 (“Bud the Spud”, “Margo’s Cargo”), the Alaska Highway (“Alcan Run”) and the Algoma Central 69. As you can see from this map, he sang about a wide variety of places and spaces – and keep in mind this is but a sampling of his work.
There are many songs we couldn’t include, simply because they couldn’t be pinned down to a single geographic location – many of Stompin’ Tom’s tracks sang the virtues of the whole nation. To get a taste of his cultural contributions to Canadian geography, click the points on the map.