Like almost one in three Canadians (at least at some point during the broadcast) I was glued to the TV for the Tragically Hip’s final show from Kingston. I’m in the category of ‘casual fan’ of the Hip, not ‘huge’ fan like many. I have a friend who has been to over 80 Hip shows and attended several on the farewell tour, including the one in Kingston. On the other hand I didn’t have a problem at all posting my seven favourite Hip songs on Twitter. But I have never been to a Hip concert, nor did I ever have the inclination to go to one. Like millions of Canadian hard core Hip fans, and Hip fans like me, however, I always sat up and took notice of just how Canadian this band was. Gord Downie certainly is a poet, and sometimes his songs were so majestically esoteric it forced you to search out the meaning, and many times that meaning is intrinsically Canadian. I use the Canadian classic ‘Bobcaygeon’ as an example but leave it to you to do the math.
I have always related to, and been proud of, everything Canadian. I scoffed at those who felt watching the Olympics wasn’t something they were going to do and carried a ‘who cares about the Olympics’ attitude. Watching things like beach volleyball, olympic type wrestling, water polo, 7’s rugby, and the high jump for goodness sake, is not something I would normally do, and I admit straight away, I don’t watch a lot of amateur sports. But how could you not get caught up in what this country did in Rio? Yes, the Olympics are expensive, and yes, with the cost factor involved, any Canadian city might be crazy to bid to host the games in the future, but my oh my, I was glued to the TV for the past two weeks. That feeling you had when Penny Oleksiak won that first Bronze? Pride. When she won Silver? Pride. When she won Gold?..Pride. That feeling you had when Andre De Grasse won Silver? Pride. Women’s soccer Bronze? Pride. Women’s Rugby Bronze? Pride. Derek Drouin? Pride. It doesn’t matter if you were jumping on board for the first time, or had followed some of these athletes for years. We watch, and we feel good when a Canadian can show the world what we’re made of. Who doesn’t want to watch that? Who doesn’t want to experience that feeling?
Which brings me to Mattawa, this weeks stop on my ‘retirement tour’. I have always loved small town Canada. I think living and working in Canada’s largest city makes you appreciate small town Canada all that much more. Some of the greatest Canada AM remotes occured in small Canadian centres like Shaunavon and Moose Jaw Saskatchewan, Merritt and Kimberley B.C., Pincher Creek and Drumheller Alberta, Dauphin Manitoba, Merrickville and Wiarton are on the list of countless great small town Ontario remotes, Rigaud Quebec and it’s fabulous sugar shack, Hartland New Brunswick, Digby Nova Scotia, Summerside PEI, Norris Point Newfoundland, Whitehorse in the Yukon, Yellowknife NWT and Iqaluit in Nunavut. It’s in these small towns that you learn the differencs ‘and’ similarities between, say, the ranchers in Pincher Creek and the scallop fisherment in Digby. What makes them different is what they do and where they live. What makes them the same, is that they are Canadian.
About 10-12 years ago I got an email from a very persistant and lovely lady named Linda in Mattawa Ontario. Would I come up to Mattawa and take part in their charity golf tournament in support of the local hospital? Mattawa? Where the hell is that? It’s about 60 kilometres directly east of North Bay on the Ottawa River. Population according to the 2011 census was 2,023. I think it took a couple of emails from Linda, but I agreed to go, and liked it so much I went back a second time a few years later. Once the hospital reached their overall fundraising objective goal, the tournament stopped, job well done, new hospital in place. Early this winter, I got another email from Linda. Interested in coming back to Mattawa? This time for another charity golf event in aid of the hospital and local Algonquin Nursing Home to sustain their services now and in the future.
Oh my..Big Joe Mufferlaw was calling again!
How could I say no? The great thing about these small town tournaments is how almost everyone in the community gets involved. That’s the beauty right there. It’s a total team effort. So, tomorrow, at 6am, I’m boarding a flight here in PEI and making my way to Mattawa. Practice round tomorrow afternoon, lake cruise that night, tournament Wednesday and home Friday. Wait..Friday? Of course! Anytime I can arrange for an extra day in Mattawa..I’ll take it!
Representation: Dan Champagne