The Contrarian: Gordon Cormier Visits

Our Wabigoon valley was occupied in waves.

The earliest occupants we can assign a name to were the Assiniboine’s, followed by the Monsoni, the Sioux, the Cree, the Voyageurs (coureurs du bois), the Ojibway.

The coming of the CPR had little impact until the 1890’s when John Dryden brought a wave of settlement of mostly Scottish-heritage homesteaders from Ontario, followed by an ongoing wave from western Canada, descendants of immigrants and Voyageurs who found our area more reliable for subsistence agriculture.

Over the decades, there were more waves from many European countries, French Canada, the United States, Newfoundland. All had a part in developing our local culture – how we interact with each other and the world, forming our unique community.

Those of Newfoundland heritage certainly add colour and energy and are important to our being who we are, and Gordon Cormier is part of that. Those of you over age say 50 will remember him being a big part of the local music scene during the mid 80’s. His remarkable talent meant he had to move on to bigger things, so he has been away for these decades, but we old-timers still think of him as one of our own.

I remember Stan Pollock as part of our social group back in teen years some 60 years ago, country dances, Junior Farmers, and so on. He could be seen playing his steel guitar at many events over the decades, part of our local music community, a helpful and accommodating guy more concerned with working with people and music than with getting rich or famous. You might remember him as the good-looking chauffeur of his own Limousine service for a number of years. Age and health have taken their toll, and he has been pretty much out of the music scene for quite a few years.

Anyway, Gordon Cormier came to visit last week – he in partnership with Dave Pike is on a TransCanada concert tour remembering the Country Music Greats of some 50 years ago, interspersed with some good old Newfie hoedown music (which is a lot like the music played by locals at our country dances back before about 1970). They played at the Wabigoon Hall on June first, and Stan Pollock was in the very enthusiastic sellout crowd.

There was good representation from our Newfie community, and a lot of older folks who remember Cormier and who appreciate that old-time music. I think all those present who knew our local history were touched and pleased that Gordon went out of his way to recognize Stan, and invited him to participate. Stan’s health meant he needed help to get up on stage, and he was a bit rusty getting started, but he did a great job singing a couple of numbers, and the crowd gave him a big hand. Surely a high point for local boy Stan.

I saw the whole event as a metaphor for the very real community spirit here in the Wabigoon Valley. Folks getting together and having a great time, for old time’s sake.

Cheering and supporting our own, with no concern with what might be ‘progressive’, or fashionable. Just being ‘us’.

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