It’s a day that fans, friends and family members hoped wouldn’t come, but on Tuesday night, Canadian musician and poet Gord Downie passed away. He was 53.
Downie’s family released a statement on Gord’s death Wednesday morning, saying “Gord knew this day was coming – his response was to spend this precious time as he always had – making music, making memories and expressing deep gratitude to his family and friends for a life well lived, often sealing it with a kiss… on the lips.”
Statement – pic.twitter.com/3quqCF4zah
— Gord Downie (@gorddownie) October 18, 2017
Downie and his band The Tragically Hip announced in May 2016 that the front man had been diagnosed with a terminal brain tumor. The band then stunned and inspired fans by embarking on one final cross Canada tour in the summer of 2016, with Downie consistently delivering his trademark high energy performances despite his devastating diagnosis. (Long Time Running, a documentary filmed during the band’s final Man Machine Poem Tour, is set to air on Friday, October 20 at 8 p.m. ET.)
Formed in Kingston in 1983, The Tragically Hip released 14 albums, won 15 JUNO Awards, six Much Music Video Awards, and have been inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame. As a solo artist, Downie released five albums, with his sixth record Introduce Yerself set to be released later this month on October 27.
A prolific artist, Downie appeared in the Canadian films Men With Brooms, One Week and The Trailer Parks Boys movie. Downie was also well known for many philanthropic endeavors, lending his time and his platform to environmental charities and to decreasing the suffering of Canada’s indigenous people.
Today the country is in mourning, with fans and friends of the famous singer taking to social media to share their grief and their favourite stories of Downie and find some solace in the incredible discography Downie leaves behind.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau commended Downie for enriching Canada’s identity and culture.
Canada’s identity & culture are richer for Gord Downie’s work.
— Justin Trudeau (@JustinTrudeau) October 18, 2017
Toronto Mayor John Tory is having the Toronto sign dimmed in honour of Downie.
I’ve asked that the Toronto sign be lit in red & white today to honour Gord Downie. The sign will be dimmed tonight at 11 p.m. to mourn this great Canadian. #TragicallyHip
— John Tory (@JohnTory) October 18, 2017
Trailer Park Boys writer and actor Mike Smith shared a shot from the set with Downie.
Gord Downie. Another brilliant, wonderful soul is gone. Deepest condolences to the family. RIP Gord. Thank you for everything you gave us. pic.twitter.com/nkJ1Uu6yxd
— Bubbles (@MSmithBubbles) October 18, 2017
NHL great Doug Gilmour said he was heartbroken over the news of Downie’s death.
Heartbroken today. Few Canadians touched this country like Gord Downie. Thank you for everything you gave us. My deepest condolences. pic.twitter.com/00DdU6IVZn
— Doug Gilmour (@DougGilmour93) October 18, 2017
Vancouver native Seth Rogen kept his message of mourning short.
RIP Gord Downie. 🇨🇦
— Seth Rogen (@Sethrogen) October 18, 2017
Fellow actor Ryan Reynolds thanked Downie for his contributions to art.
So long, Gord. Thank you. 🇨🇦 https://t.co/hFG1ujudez
— Ryan Reynolds (@VancityReynolds) October 18, 2017
Sunnybrook Hospital, where Downie received treatment for his brain tumor, remembered their patient who used his final days to raise money for others dealing with the devastating diagnosis.
Gord Downie’s legacy extends beyond his music. He raised unprecedented awareness for glioblastoma. Our condolences to his family & friends. pic.twitter.com/igl5dOqNAs
— Sunnybrook Hospital (@Sunnybrook) October 18, 2017
Canadian TV host Steven Ladurantaye shared a story about inadvertently meeting Downie, who treated everyone he met with compassion and respect.
Was at an airport with my kids while ago. My 5-year-old had a long, long casual chat with guy in a hat next to us. Like an hour, about nothing. A grown up talk. Where you going, who you gonna see, what will be best. As we left, realized it was Gord Downie.
— Steve Ladurantaye (@ladurantaye) October 18, 2017
Hamilton band Arkells, who toured with The Tragically Hip, thanked Downie for being an inspiration.
Thank you Gord. You’ll never stop inspiring us.
— ARKELLS (@arkellsmusic) October 18, 2017
Musician Matthew Good paid his respects on behalf of himself and his band.
I’m just sitting here with tears. Gord was a great guy. My deepest sympathies to his family and the guys. Our camp is shattered today.
— Matthew Good (@mattgood) October 18, 2017
Canadian musician Bif Naked sent her blessings to the Downie family.
Namaste. In gratitude and reflection, I bow my head for Gord. Deep, gracious blessings. My heartfelt condolences to the Downie family. 🙏🏽
— Bif Naked (@bifnaked) October 18, 2017
The Toronto Raptors honoured one of their most famous fans.
A Canadian Icon.
Rest in peace, Gord. pic.twitter.com/cLHgyhhSr7
— Toronto Raptors (@Raptors) October 18, 2017
Toronto band Stars shared their love for Downie.
no. no. no. no.
stars want to thank gord and send him our hearts as he passes into another world. we loved him. there won’t be another gord https://t.co/oPXDhDPkWU
— Stars (@youarestars) October 18, 2017
Canadian athlete Donovan Bailey called Downie an ‘inspiration.’
Canada and the world have lost a true icon. Rest In Peace, Gord Downie. You inspired a nation 🙏🏿. pic.twitter.com/YNSMMIKhhK
— Donovan Bailey (@donovanbailey) October 18, 2017
Comedian Gerry Dee thanked Gord for his courage and music.
R.I.P Gord Downie. Thanks for your courage and your music. You will never be forgotten. #GordDownie
— Gerry Dee (@gerrydee) October 18, 2017
TV personality Rick Mercer knows Downie’s death will be felt across Canada.
— Rick Mercer (@rickmercer) October 18, 2017
Rockers Nickelback called Downie a ‘fearless performer.’
Husband, father, poet, activist, icon & fearless performer, Gord Downie, has passed. Thank you for inspiring so many w/ a life well-lived. 💔 pic.twitter.com/y1NrHae1Qy
— Nickelback (@Nickelback) October 18, 2017
The NHL said that Downie’s music will “echo through arenas forever.”
Condolences to the family and friends of Canadian music icon Gord Downie, whose music and love for hockey will echo through arenas forever. pic.twitter.com/4cxlvsXdGe
— NHL (@NHL) October 18, 2017
Canadian musician Randy Bachman called Downie an “amazing human being.”
— Randy Bachman (@RandysVinylTap) October 18, 2017
Remembrances and honours will continue to pour in over the days to come, but Gord and his legacy will live on in our hearts far beyond that period of grieving.