Tearful Justin Trudeau pays tribute to Gord Downie, the Tragically Hip frontman

Ruben Ruiz
October 19, 2017

"And not just in a nebulous "Oh, I love Canada" way, he loved every hidden corner, every story, every aspect of this country that he celebrated his whole life". He wanted us to be better than we were.

An emotional Mr Trudeau, speaking in Parliament in Ottawa, said "we are less as a country without Gord Downie in it".

On that tour, Downie had already announced that he'd been diagnosed with glioblastoma.

The city demonstrated its love for Downie past year when it set up giant screens in Gage Park to broadcast the Hip's final concert on CBC.

One of the country's most revered singer-songwriters, Downie penned a steady stream of 1990s rock radio staples including "New Orleans Is Sinking", "Blow at High Dough", "Courage", "Ahead By a Century" and "Bobcaygeon".

Gord said he had lived many lives.

Downie's lyrics, steeped in Canadiana, explored the poor treatment of indigenous peoples, environmental causes and the plight of the wrongfully convicted. That stuff doesn't interest me and I don't even know if I could write that if I tried because I don't really feel it.

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While Canadian musicians Drake, the Weeknd and Justin Bieber have made waves internationally, The Tragically Hip built a huge following of die-hard homegrown fans.

Tributes to the late singer poured in on social media.

Downie's work also led to him being appointed a member of the Order of Canada in June of this year; he was hailed by Governor General David Johnston for his devotion to "promoting dialogue about residential schools and working towards reconciliation".

A few months later, the Assembly of First Nations honoured Downie by presenting him with a star blanket and giving him the honourary name "Wicapi Omani", Lakota for "man who walks among the stars".

"His music is an essential part of the soundtrack of Canada", Toronto mayor John Tory said.

Downie, who served as the band's lyricist, released five studio albums, his most recent arriving in October 2016.

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