My fondest memory of Stompin' Tom Connors is not of interviewing or photographing him, or even of enjoying his music for as long as I can remember.
Rather, it's of our five-year-old daughter, feet dangling off the couch where she sat bolt upright, belting out every word of a not-so-classic Stompin' Tom tune - Margo's Got The Cargo - and of her two-year-old sister in the background mouthing the words, too shy to sing on camera herself.
Long before The Backstreet Boys, Timberlake and Bieber invaded our home, Connors had already stomped his way into our daughters' hearts.
Ironically, a few days before he passed away last week, all three girls - now grown and moved away - sat in our livingroom to review and share a few laughs over a CD I had salvaged from an aging video cassette recording. The girls' tiny tot tribute to Stompin' Tom was replayed many times.
The tape was recorded in the early ‘90s, around the same time I covered a Stompin' Tom concert in Summerside. It was part of his grueling 70-city cross-country tour, and it came on the heels of his self-imposed 14-year exile from the music industry.
Before the concert, I met Connor's then 14-year-old son, Tom, Jr., and his wife, Lena. But after the show, Stompin' Tom wasn't prepared to give me an interview. He did, however, have plenty of time for his fans. And he was gracious enough to pose for a newspaper picture with his wife and son, and for another photo with my wife - one that still hangs in our home.
I guess I shouldn't have been offended by his reluctance to be interviewed. He was upset at that time with the media for the way he said they portrayed musicians in Canada. He left the music scene 14 years earlier in protest.
Although I didn't get to ask Connors any questions that night, I did have a front-row seat for an amazing night at the old Cahill Stadium in Summerside when this home-grown folk hero - an enormous Canadian flag over his shoulder and a well-worn stompin' board beneath his foot - owned the town. It was billed as his tour for national unity but in P.E.I., it was simply a local boy coming home after being away far too long.
Connors made his name with his music, but I always admired the way he could cut through the rhetoric and get right to heart of any issue. In the early '90s, he waded into the language debate and the threat of Quebec separation.
"I'm not a politician, just a simple guy from Skinner's Pond who went to Grade 9 ... but there are things that need to be said," he told a Toronto Star reporter. "For one thing, the crux of the matter on language is that we should all join Quebec and separate together."
Still on national unity, in the chorus of his Believe in Your Country song, this classic commentary "...but if you don't believe your country should come before yourself....Ya can better serve your country, by living somewhere else."
Since he passed away last week at age 77, there's been a lobby to get him into the Hockey Hall of Fame for his gift to Canada's national sport, The Hockey Song.
I've always thought CBC missed the boat a few years ago when they were searching for a new theme song for Hockey Night in Canada. Connors' son said at the time his father was open to licensing the song to CBC and that he didn't even have to sing it - but it wasn't even considered.
So what are his odds of getting into the Hockey Hall of Fame? Really, it doesn't matter.
In our home and, I suspect, in millions of homes across the country where ordinary Canadians still listen to and sing his songs, he always has been and always will be a hall of famer.
Wayne Young is an instructor in the journalism program at Holland College in Charlottetown.