The Hip in the park

The Tragically Hip’s Paul Langlois and Gord Downie. (Photo by David Bastedo)
The Tragically Hip’s Paul Langlois and Gord Downie. (Photo by David Bastedo)

For Chatham’s Ryan Doyle, it was that day in Bobcaygeon.

That’s the one and only time he saw iconic Canadian rockers The Tragically Hip live, in the summer of 2011 during Big Music Fest at an outdoor event just south of that Ontario community.

And now, he’s trying to bring the band’s final concert – singer Gord Downie has terminal brain cancer – to Tecumseh Park.

No, the band, which is doing a tight farewell tour across Canada in select cities, is not playing live here, but Doyle is working to show CBC’s airing of the band’s final concert – in the Hip’s home town of Kingston on Aug. 20 – in Tecumseh Park on a huge LED screen.

And make money for charity in the process.

For Doyle, it all just made perfect sense.

“My first concert ever was in Bobcaygeon,” he said, referring to The Hip’s performance in the central Ontario town of which one of their best-known songs is named. “I will remember that forever.”

Doyle also tried to get tickets to one of the concerts The Hip is doing this summer, but like so many other Hip fans, he was unable to secure any ducats, and didn’t want to pay huge dollars to scalpers.

His next choice was to see about bringing the band to Chatham, at least on a big screen in his backyard.

“I heard CBC was doing the final concert live, so I was going to put it on a big projector screen in the backyard for my ball team,” he said. “But I’ve done charity work in the past and thought we could do something for charities too.”

So he contacted the CBC, and got the thumbs up to hold a free event airing the concert.

“I got the rights to air it from the CBC. It’s just snowballed from there.”

There will be bands performing prior to the concert. A massive beer tent will take up roughly half the park, and the entire municipality is invited.

Doyle said the charities of choice are the Chatham-Kent Hospice and the Sunnybrook Foundation – a charity he said Downie expressed interest in.

While it is a free admission event, Doyle said there will be people at the gate accepting charitable donations and handing out tax receipts.

On top of the airing of The Hip’s final concert, local bands will perform from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. It’s this element of the day for which Doyle is seeking support from local businesses. He is looking for various sponsorships to help offset costs. Anyone interested can e-mail him at

When the local bands leave the stage, Doyle said they will set up a 24×13.5 ft. LED screen to air The Hip’s concert.

“It will literally take up about three quarters of the width of the stage. Everybody should be able to see it from anywhere in the park,” he said.

“The support I’ve received from the community so far is awesome,” he said. “I’m hoping between 5,000 and 10,000 people show up.”

The beer tent, at 58,000 square feet, can hold up to 4,900 people, he added. The Knights of Columbus will run that element of the event, and a “favourable portion” of the beer sales will go to the charities, Doyle said.

Social media support has been promising. He said the Facebook page he set up, The Hip in the Park, went to more than 4,000 members in just two days. The Go Fund Me page for the event topped $1,000 in donations over the same time period.

“You can tell the city wants this bad,” he said.





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