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Friends share stories about Stompin' Tom Connors

Reported by Courtney Markewich
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When it comes to Canadian music, some may feel Stompin' Tom Connors is the best name you can name.  Following the passing of the music icon, people are reflecting on the legacy of Stompin' Tom, and the stories that will live on.

Walter Ostanek, known as Canada's polka king, met Stompin' Tom about twenty years ago and got to become friends with him, even recording a few tracks together. 

Ostanek can recall the first time he went to Connors home in Ontario.

"I am a memorabilia collector, and I had him sign a guitar for me," Ostanek says, "I wanted to get one of the pieces of plywood he was stomping on it, which I brought.  He went to stomp on it, and he didn't have the cowboy boots with the leather heels, he had rubber heels on.  So all he got was a couple of skid marks on it.  Up on the wall he had a little hatchet; he took it down, and hit the board a few times with the hatchet.  He gave me a nice picture of himself, signed it and the board."

Connors shared with Ostanek stories about growing up 'rough' and how he started playing music in exchange for food.  Once Stompin' Tom gained a bit of a following, he started to get in trouble with the hotels where he was playing.

"He used to put holes in the floors of the hotels.  That's when they told him to get a piece of plywood to stomp on."

On Thursday morning after hearing the news of Connors passing, home-improvement expert Shell Busey revealed on John Gormley Live that he had a direct connection to Stompin' Tom and his stompin' board.

"I used to cut his plywood back in Orangeville, Ontario," Busey said, "he used to order all of his plywood.  It was three foot by three foot, 3/4 inch, always good on one side."

Busey says he would cut the wood, and was able to make money off the scraps that Connors didn't want.

Ostanek says Connors loved to share stories, with the two of them talking late into the night when Ostanek would visit Connors' home.  He says Stompin' Tom especially talked about the country he loved so much.

"Downstairs (in his home) he had a room, all four walls with books on Canadiana.  So that's what he had there when he was writing songs."