Tim Thompson:


As told to: Tim Thompson

The day Pierre Trudeau passed away, I didn’t know what to do, but I had to do something.

To me and my family, he was the greatest political leader our country has seen.

A true heart. A champion of this beautiful land. A deep supporter of human rights, and of art and culture.

A giant in this country’s history. And a Habs fan!

Pierre once tried to work his magic on my Mom at a dinner that my parents were at, the charming bastard that he was. My Dad was in Ottawa in 1968 at the Liberal convention in the arena where Mr. Trudeau was elected head of the Liberal party.

Trudeaumania had taken over the country.

Many years later I would play in the Ontario Hockey League for the Niagara Falls Thunder in that very same arena in Ottawa. My Dad made the drive to see me play there one night. The deep bonds that bind our generations.

So back to the year 2000, and the man with the omnipresent red rose pinned to his suit, was gone.  I had to do something…something to honour his spirit.   I went to go see the Rheostatics at Ted’s Wrecking Yard on College Street, in the heart of Little Italy in Toronto. It was the most significantly Canadian thing I could do.  The only thing.

The Rheos’ songs celebrate the rich tapestry and history of this country, giving meaning, feeling, and thought to our collective experience. Martin Tielli came out and sang a song. The lines hit home. “Pierre Elliott Trudeau. The secret master saint that modern politicians ain’t.”

It was cathartic.

I had a long standing respect for the band, and had heard of them like many, from the opening lines of ‘Live Between Us’ – the wonderful live album from The Tragically Hip. “This is for the Rheostatics. We’re all richer for having seen them tonight,” proclaimed Gord Downie.

He was right.

They are a vital part of the Canadian musical landscape. Making sense of, and believing in this vast land. And music that just sounds like Canada.

Pierre would’ve approved. And probably danced the night away too.

The art of hockey.  A footprint of our country’s national past time.

But I remembered I already knew of them. I thought back to reading Dave Bidini’s articles in the Toronto Star growing up. I always found it cool in his byline that it said he was in a rock n’ roll band. And to this day, his work in the world of hockey literature is unique, and nothing less than required reading.

I met Dave a few years later, in the parking lot of De La Salle arena in Toronto, after a beer league hockey game I’d been playing. I mentioned that I was a big fan of his music and writing. I told him about my past, rising to become a professional hockey player.  We exchanged some words, and off into the spring evening I went.  We stayed in touch. Eventually I became a member of the Morningstars, the beer league hockey team he co-founded.  We became friends.

When I got deeper into my work in the hockey broadcasting industry, I knew there was a great piece to make with him. Kindred spirits on the long, beautiful road called  “The Art of Hockey”.

As it turns out, we’ve made a few pieces together. From celebrating the poetry of outdoor hockey on the lake where the great poet Al Purdy lived, to an essay on the hard-nosed Maritime hockey legend John Brophy, the pieces were deep and meaningful.

But in 2013 we made something that is anchored at the confluence of hockey and music. Something that will hopefully have permanent residence on that long and beautiful road.

It was made to honour an iconic national institution – the 60th anniversary of CBC’s Hockey Night In Canada.

The ties that bind.

It featured some incredible Canadian artists, waxing poetic about our beautiful game, and the show that broadcasted it on the people’s airwaves.

Our Northern Wish.

I called itFootsteps and it was put together feverishly in one week. Dave wrote the beautiful words, and I wove the music and images together with them. My friends in the band Petty Victories helped inspire it, with their song by the same name, which drove the piece to its feverish ending.

The art of hockey.  A footprint of our country’s national past time.

I hope Pierre would approve.


Tim Thompson


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One thought on “FOOTSTEPS

  1. Rheostatics music and Tim Thompson’s inspirational visual art.. I can’t think of a better combination. Purely Canadian.