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The Tragically Hip’s Final Show Was the Second-Most Followed Event in Canadian Broadcast History

There could not have been a better reason to stay in on a Saturday night.

The Tragically Hip played their final show on August 20 in their hometown of Kingston, a spectacle broadcast live on CBC without commercials, commentary or censorship to millions of homes across Canada.

It was the very best of Canada, a sweet goodbye for our most important band with lead singer Gord Downie using the occasion to address the plight of Canada’s northern communities. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was in attendance, as were tens of thousands vicariously at public viewings from coast to coast.

And it was all exclusively ours. 

If there was something else happening in the world that night, we didn’t know it – 11.7 million Canadians tuned in to the concert on television, radio, or online.

The last time one in every three Canadians did any one thing at the same time was— well, this morning, at the Tim Horton’s drive-thru.

It was the second-most followed broadcast in Canadian history, trailing only the men’s gold-medal hockey game at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics, which drew 16.6 million viewers. While that occasion was special in triumph, Saturday night’s was significant in its finality: there won’t be another Hip show. Downie was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer last May.


Our unofficial poet laureate spoke few but powerful words, wishing us to simply “have a nice life” during one goodbye before a series of encores.

We will, Gord, with your music as the soundtrack.


Notable Life

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