August 08, 2016
One of Canadian music’s most endearing and enduring icons is set to get his own museum for the country’s 150th birthday next year, as the Prince Edward Island schoolhouse he attended as a youngster is transformed into a destination for all things Stompin’ Tom Connors. It’ll be called the Stompin’ Tom Centre and Schoolhouse, located in Skinners Pond, and include memorabilia from Connors’ life and even a 120-capacity entertainment area to host concerts.
The schoolhouse is the oldest in PEI, built in the 19th century. While Connors was born across the way in Saint John, New Brunswick, it was in Skinners Pond at the schoolhouse, living with his adopted parents, where he fell in love with the country, Anne Arsenault (general manager of economic development group Tignish Initiatives) explained to The Canadian Press. “He learned his love of Canada here and that is likely where he got his desire to find out more about the country.” In July 2015, almost $1.7 million in funding for a $1.9 million project was announced. Since then, the Department of Canadian Heritage had to drop $350,000 from that total because Tignish Initiatives isn’t considered a heritage organization. Connors’ childhood home will also be renovated and available to visit and explore.
While everyone knows Stompin’ Tom as an icon of Canadiana and a champion of the nation, he was also fiercely critical of its biggest music awards show, famously returning all of his JUNO Awards in 1978, lamenting the changing landscape that chose to recognize Canadian artists pursuing fame in the U.S. instead of those working to bolster their home country. “I feel that the Junos should be for people who are living in Canada, whose main base of business operations is in Canada, who are working toward the recognition of Canadian talent in this country and who are trying to further the export of such talent from this country to the world with a view to proudly showing off what this country can contribute to the world market,” he said. It’s a sentiment that’s just as vital today as it was nearly 40 years ago.
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