The Tragically Hip’s conclusion especially poignant for Chesterville man

A group of fans watch The Tragically Hip's final concert during Barnstorm 17, the music festival held annually on a rural property just outside Finch. Lead singer Gord Downie appears on the big screen near the conclusion of the CBC broadcast. Zandbergen photo, Nation Valley News

Nelson Zandbergen
Nation Valley News

CHESTERVILLE— Saturday night’s final Tragically Hip concert resonated for many Canadians, whether watching on TV or lucky enough to attend the memorable Kingston show in person.

Jason Walkden, who caught the iconic Canadian band’s penultimate performance Aug. 18 in Ottawa, had an especially deep level of affinity for the band in their final curtain calls last week.

Like The Hip’s lead singer Gordon Downie, the Chesterville resident is battling brain cancer, having been diagnosed in June 2015.

“Absolutely,” Walkden responded by Internet chat, when asked if the concert was extra poignant for him. He  added it was “nice to see someone with brain cancer fighting like me and not letting it control his life also.”

On Facebook last week, the Hydro Ottawa lineman offered effusive praise of what he had just witnessed at the Canadian Tire Centre:

Well Gord DOWNIE and The Tragically Hip, what a show!!

You guys will never be back to Ottawa and will be greatly missed. Thanks for putting on an amazing show and standing behind your best friend like brothers should. Amazing to see you all hug and kiss Gord at the end of the show.

Gord you looked to be having the time of your life, taking all your fans in.

Keep up the fight Gord. A chapter might close on Saturday but the next one has already begun. Fight hard and never give up.

Thanks for writing the soundtrack for mine and every 25-50 year-old’s life.

The show was “very emotional towards the end,” Walkden also told Nation Valley News. While “heartbreaking”  to see the band’s frontman say goodbye, Downie “looked to be having the time of his life,” said the volunteer firefighter, who was “sad to see the end of a Canadian icon…. I wish Gord all the best in his fight with brain cancer.”

Walkden also suggested he would “love” to start a local run-walk-ride fundraiser for Winchester District Memorial Hospital’s cancer centre.

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