Last week I shamelessly canvassed my friends for their favourite songs about Ontario. I took their responses and went on a music quest to put together this playlist, as an Ode to Ontario.
You might be able to tell it’s a little sentimental, romantic, or even stereotypical. And you are exactly right. It’s a challenge to not choose songs that are stereotypical or conjure feelings of love, longing, loss or images of the cold long winters in some way.
I inadvertently began thinking about an Ontario playlist when I was watching the Tragically Hip’s Bobcaygeon video incessantly on repeat. After weeks of doing this, I finally realized that I needed to make a playlist that consists of more than just Bobcaygeon.
If you haven’t seen the Bobcaygeon video before, let me describe it for you. It’s basically Hip-frontman Gord Downie dressed up in a cop outfit and later seen pining after this girl in a shabby-chic apartment in what is assumably supposed to be the Kawartha's township. There’s snow on the ground outside and it’s a scene that probably everyone, who isn’t from Vancouver, thinks of when they think of a Canadian winter.
I can honestly say that I was never really much of a Hip fan growing up. Instead, I was too busy listening to Notorious BIG with songs like “Mo Money, Mo Problems” which was more relatable to my life growing up in East Van than songs about rural Ontario. I can't say that my family sat around the radio listening to the Hip like we did the Jays’ games in the '90s.
This past month was different. My friends and I, along with millions of Canadians from across this country got together to huddle around the computer where we streamed the Hip. We did this because it was Gord Downie’s last performance ever. As most Canadians are probably aware, or should be, sadly Mr. Downie was diagnosed with incurable brain cancer and thus across Canada we collectively tuned into their final farewell performance.
Having never really given the Hip more than two plays consecutively, I was strangely and suddenly overcome with a feeling of great loss during and after this performance. I also felt an incontrovertible yearning to connect with a type of Canadiana reminiscent of another day.
This is exactly what this playlist represents, ‘Canadiana of another day’. These songs aren’t new by any means—honestly, they’re mostly all old. The newest song is by Afie Jurvanen (who goes by the moniker Bahamas) with Can’t Take You With Me. The oldest one is by Stompin’ Tom who probably impacted all these music makers in some way.
I want to thank those who put forth many of these songs about Ontario.