PETERBOROUGH, Ont. – Politician Ken Dryden, former governor general Adrienne Clarkson and folk singer/songwriter Sylvia Tyson are among the public figures expected to pay tribute to Stompin’ Tom Connors at a public memorial tonight.
Connors, the black-hatted country icon behind “Bud the Spud” and “The Hockey Song,” died last week at age 77.
The ceremony will be held at the Peterborough Memorial Centre, a hockey arena that Connors spokesman Brian Edwards says will fit roughly 3,800 people for the event.
Edwards confirmed that other speakers will include former EMI president Deane Cameron, Peterborough Mayor Daryl Bennett and Revenue Minister Gail Shea.
Meanwhile, the roster of performers will also feature former Rheostatics frontman Dave Bidini and two long-time Connors collaborators in Dave Gunning and J.P. Cormier.
Tyson will team with country-folk singer Cindy Church to sing “Farewell to Nova Scotia,” according to Tyson’s representative.
Edwards says Connors knew for weeks that he didn’t have much time left, so he was able to get closely involved in planning for the tribute.
“We chatted about it backwards and forwards,” Edwards said, adding that the idea of doing a public ceremony was important to Connors.
“We both came to the conclusion that this is what the people would want, too.”
In addition to the performances and speeches, attendees will have a peek at rarely seen images of Connors. Edwards had access to the family vault, and was particularly excited about photos of a moustached Connors during his self-imposed hiatus from the industry, as well as shots of him playing the accordion and fiddle.