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Mapped: The Canadian locales in the Hip’s iconic songs

The Tragically Hip has become a beloved band in Canada for its local references. Here are 25 of them, mapped on our country.


 

This summer, the Tragically Hip embarks on its final tour, following singer Gord Downie’s diagnosis with brain cancer. For almost 30 years, the band has mined Canadian imagery, icons and place names for his poetry in ways that few of his peers in rock music ever dared. These are not historical narratives or jingoistic anthems: they’re often opaque, mysterious and evocative, signposts on a journey to open-ended meaning. The Hip’s subject matter has never been exclusively—or parochially—Canadian, but needless to say, it’s those local references, 25 of which we list below, that made the Tragically Hip one of the most beloved rock bands of a generation, here in their native land.

MORE: The Maclean’s Interview with Gord Downie: ‘Life’s too short for bad coffee.’

Move around the map and zoom in to explore. Desktop: Hover for the lyrics. Mobile: Read the lyrics below the map

Credit: Maclean’s Research

Golden, B.C.: ‘The Golden Rim Motor Inn, soft water and colour TV’ (The Luxury)
Calgary: ‘I always thought I’d go to Calgary’ (Take Forever)
Fort McMurray, Alta.: ‘Go be a man of the boom . . . When Athabasca depends?’ (The Depression Suite)
Saskatoon: ‘Sundown in the Paris of the Prairies’ (Wheat Kings)
The 100th meridian: ‘Where the great plains begin, at the hundredth meridian’ (At the Hundredth Meridian)
Churchill, Man.: ‘Thompson girl walking from Churchill, across the icy world with polar bears it’s mostly uphill’ (Thompson Girl)
Sault Ste. Marie, Ont.: ‘Smart as trees in Sault Ste. Marie’ (Born in the Water)
Attawapiskat, Ont.: ‘Attawapiskat, city by the bay’ (Goodnight Attawapiskat)
Sarnia, Ont.: ‘Sarnia, you been on my mind’ (In Sarnia)
Mistaken Point, Nfld. And Moonbeam, Ont.: ‘There’s Mistaken Point, Newfoundland, there’s Moonbeam, Ontari-ari-o, there are places I’ve never been, and always wanted to go’ (Fly)
80 km north of Cochrane, Ont.: ‘Bill Barilko disappeared that summer, he was on a fishing trip’ (50 Mission Cap)
Speed River, Guelph, Ont.: ‘Speed River take me away’ (Speed River)
Etobicoke, Ont.: ‘To see Etobicoke coyotes’ (Ultra Mundane)
Toronto: ‘Win Toronto, yelled the Queen of the Furrows’ (Queen of the Furrows)
Maple Leaf Gardens, Toronto: ‘The last goal he ever scored, won the Leafs the cup’ (50 Mission Cap)
Regent Theatre, Toronto: ‘Well, there’s a rocking little spot next to the Regent Theatre’ (All Canadian Surf Club)
Highway 401: ‘So we don’t f–k with the 401’ (Titanic Terrarium)
Niagara Falls: ‘Do you like it inside a barrel and plunging over the falls?’ (Daredevil)
Canoe Lake, Ont., where Tom Thomson drowned: ‘Tom Thomson came paddling past, I’m pretty sure it was him’ (Three Pistols)
Algonquin Park, Ont.: ‘I think it was Algonquin Park, it was so cold and winter dark’ (The Bear)
Algonquin Park, Ont.: ‘Want to be your stars of Algonquin’ (Lake Fever)
Bobcaygeon, Ont.: ‘It was in Bobcaygeon, I saw the constellations reveal themselves, one star at a time’ (Bobcaygeon)
Springside Park, Napanee, Not: ‘You can see your breath in Springside Park’ (An Inch an Hour)
Bath, Ont.: ‘Twelve men broke loose in ’73, from Millhaven Maximum Security’ (38 Years Old)
Skeleton Park is McBurney Park in Kingston, Ont.: ‘In Skeleton Park one fine summer evening . . . The ghosts of the Rideau Canal start to sing’ (Skeleton Park)
Hazeldean, a community in Kanata: ‘I drove down your road, to Hazeldean where I tasted your funeral home’s sandwiches and coffee’ (Greasy Jungle)
Montreal: The song is inspired by Hugh MacLennan’s The Watch that Ends the Night: ‘Sleepwalk, so fast asleep, in a motel that has the lay of home’ (Courage (For Hugh MacLennan))
Lac Memphremagog, Que.: ‘Writing a song about Lake Memphremagog’ (Problem Bears)
Gaspé, Que.: ‘Jacques Cartier, right this way, I’ll put your coat up on the bed’ (Looking For a Place to Happen)
Isles Aux Morts, Nfld.: ‘In that September off Isle Aux Morts’ (The Dire Wolf)


 

Mapped: The Canadian locales in the Hip’s iconic songs

  1. You Forgot Silver Jet which includes 2 references to the most easterly point in North America, Cape Spear, Newfoundland and Clayqout Sound on the west coast of Vancouver Island.

    Note: Gord also wears a Gros Morne, NL hat in their video for Hundreth Meridian.

    A silver jet roars overhead
    Rocks the nocturne all everglade and grey sheers
    A silver jet, so far off already
    Fought the hot spurs off all the way to Cape Spear


    A silver jet roars overhead
    A silver jet, flying to the next part
    A silver jet, so far off already
    A silver jet, a satellite, a green star
    A silver jet, way overhead
    A silver jet, evergladed grey sheers
    A silver jet, so far off already
    A silver jet, Clayqout sound to Cape Spear

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  3. You missed the fact that more than one reference is made to Prince Edward County, in lyrics. We are The Same CD “under the star’s of the County”
    also i’m sure there is reference to The Glenora as in the Glenora Ferry in a song..but can’t remember which one. I do remember getting excited when i heard it…because i live in The County…as did Gord at one time… so there !! teehee

  4. Hmm. The song is called THOMPSON girl, but the place named pulled from the song is Churchill? Thompson is also a Northern Manitoba place… where they mine nickel. Looks like Maclean’s is about as smart on that as they were in the article that claim Winnipeg was super racist, then provided examples that were not racially motivated. Maclean’s does not care about Manitobans.

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