Tag Archives: #stompin-tom

All About Lorraine Lemay –Mississippi Hotel

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                      “I remember well Lorraine Lemay and the Mississippi Hotel.” Stompin Tom Connors

 

Lorraine Lemay was born in Aylwin, Quebec, in historic Gatineau county. As a young lady, Lorraine and her husband purchased the Kazabazua Hotel. Some years later, deteriorating health convinced her husband to sell the popular watering hole and, after his death, Lorraine moved to Kemptville.

Over a period of almost thirty years, Lorraine owned and managed the Kemptville Hotel and the Mississippi Hotel in Carleton Place, where country music was the featured attraction. Both enterprises had their start-up headaches. In Kemptville, the town was “dry” and, to change this status, a municipal plebiscite was required. Lorraine was a leader in the campaign to bring Kemptville into the 20th century. Her efforts were rewarded with the “yes” vote that enabled her to begin operating the hotel as an entertainment centre. In Carleton Place, after two years of renovations, the Mississippi Hotel was reopened.

By this time, Lorraine had a well-earned reputation for providing local artists with a stage on which to showcase their talents. Ron McMunn, Ralph Carlson, Tom Wilson, Freddy Dixon and many, many more entertainers played Lorraine’s establishments. She was more than an employer. She was a banker and a confidante to many who needed help. She was also instrumental in starting and promoting the career of Stompin’ Tom Connors, and Tom recognized her in his signature song, “Mufferaw Joe” as “the little gal in Kemptville town”. Lorraine remembers American dobro player, “Uncle” Josh Graves, and a young group, all with green hair, as some of her more memorable entertainers.

After almost fifty years of promoting Valley talent, Lorraine was still a business woman and the proprietor of Lolly’s Tea Room in her adopted town of Carleton Place until she passed away in 2002. Ottawa Valley Country Music Hall of Fame

Historical Note-

1883

Mrs. McIlquham, wife of the genial proprietor of the Mississippi Hotel, met with a most painful accident a number of days ago.  While taking out carpet tacks with a knife, one of the sharp little things flew bottom first directly into the ball of her eye, lodging so deeply that it had to be pulled out by her finger.  The pain was most excruciating and it was many days  before even the slightest relief could be felt. The doctor has been keeping her in a dark room and administering poultices but it was difficult under the existing conditions to apply them.  He is hopeful that her eyesight will be completely restored.

The biggest sale Howard McNeely ever held was when he sold the Mississippi Hotel by public auction.  All the furnishings went too, and then the big stone heritage building was put on the block.  Howard lives by the adage that discretion is the better part of valour, and insists he cannot honestly remember what the landmark building sold for.

 - Cdrleton Place Hotel Sale , -Announced...

Clipped from

  1. The Ottawa Journal,
  2. 15 Jun 1959, Mon,
  3. Page 5

Related reading:

Architecture Stories: The Hotel that Stompin’ Tom Connors Saved

Grandma’s Butterscotch Pie

Does Carleton Place Have the Number 1 Small Town Song?

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So which town is favoured with the number 1 small Ontario town song?

Is it from my local favourite Brock Zeman?

We drink at the Bridge the Works, and the Moose and the Queens,

Where the women are—–lovely.

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How about Stompin Tom?

Who can’t pass the turnoff to nearby Carleton Place without thinking that’s the town where, so Tom told us, they believe local bodies of water were formed by sweat dripping off the face of Big Joe Mufferaw.

And they say Big Joe used to get real wet
From cutting down timber and working up a sweat
And everyone will tell you around Carlton Place
The Mississippi dripped onto Big Joe’s face

Pat Labron and Marilyn Lukas came up with a song.

pat

carleton

By Pat Labron & The Carleton Place Singers
ALBUM: The Carlton Place Song- 1985
LABEL: Summit Sound
CATALOGUE #: SR 116

song

 

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Three great women of Carleton Place– Marilyn Lukas, Mayor Melba Barker and singer of the Carleton Place song Pat Labron. Who was the gentleman in this photo? Thanks Jennifer Fenwick Irwin from the Carleton Place and Beckwith Heritage Museum for sending.

 

Canada’s small towns have produced some of the world’s most talented musicians, so it’s only fitting that rural roots have been the inspiration for a host of hit songs. What is the number one town song in Ontario? Sadly not one of ours. Neil Young has claimed he’s talking about a few small towns, the main one he’s referring to is Omemee, Ontario, northwest of Peterborough. It was his hometown as a child and is now home to the Youngtown Rock and Roll Museum.

Pat Lebron pictures and music from The Carleton Place and Beckwith Heritage Museum.

Buy Linda Secaspina’s Books— Flashbacks of Little Miss Flash Cadilac– Tilting the Kilt-Vintage Whispers of Carleton Place and 4 others on Amazon or Amazon Canada or Wisteria at 62 Bridge Street in Carleton Place

Architecture Stories: The Hotel that Stompin’ Tom Connors Saved

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No photo description available.

If you are not Canadian the name Stompin’ Tom Connors means nothing to you, but in Canada he is a music legend and a national treasure. Tom was not always at the top of the heap; in fact he worked his butt off to be the success he is now. One day in the 60’s he drove his pickup truck to Carleton Place, Ontario and walked into the Mississippi Hotel on the corner of Bridge Street and Lake Avenue looking for a singing job.

The owner at that time,  Ms. Lorraine Lemay (Ottawa Valley Country Music Hall of Fame) looked at him curiously as he held a guitar in one hand and a piece of plywood in the other. His audition turned into a month long stay at the hotel, and so began Stompin’ Tom’s career for room and board in the hallowed hotel.  The Mississippi Hotel was built in the 1800’s and was a former bawdy house and even a hospice for those with TB. It has passed through many owners and is one of Canada’s top 100 haunted buildings.

As legend goes Stompin’ Tom did a three week stint at the hotel and went through four sheets of plywood. Various stories have circulated about the origin of the foot stomping, but it’s generally accepted that he did this to keep a strong tempo for his guitar playing — especially in the noisy bars and beer joints where he frequently performed. After numerous complaints about damaged stage floors, Tom began to carry a piece of plywood that he stomped on even more vigorously than before.

The “stompin'” board has since become one of his trademarks. After stomping a hole in the wood, he would pick it up and show it to the audience (accompanied by a joke about the quality of the local lumber) before calling for a new one. It was reported that when asked about his “stompin’ board”, Tom replied, “it’s just a stage I’m going through”. Stompin’ Tom periodically auctions off his “stompin’ boards” for charity with the latest board selling for $15,000.  

At the Mississippi Hotel Tom worked on the song called “Big Joe Mufferaw” day after day and a couple of years later that particular song was heard on country music stations all over Canada. Tom was also pretty opinionated about Canadian content in music. He once returned all his Junos (Canadian Grammy) back to the board of directors accompanied by the following letter:

Gentlemen:I am returning herewith the six Juno awards that I once felt honoured to have received and which, I am no longer proud to have in my possession. As far as I am concerned you can give them to the “border jumpers” who didn’t receive an award this year and maybe you can have them presented by Charley Pride. I feel that the Junos should be for people who are living in Canada, whose main base of business operations is in Canada, who are working toward the recognition of Canadian talent in this country and who are trying to further the export of such talent from this country to the world with a view to proudly showing off what this country can contribute to the world market. Until the academy appears to comply more closely with aspirations of this kind, I will no longer stand for any nominations, nor will I accept any award given.”

Yours very truly, Stompin’ Tom Connors 

It was with this same conviction that Stompin’ Tom Connors came out of hiding years later to save the beloved hotel where he once sang. In 1990 the Mississippi Hotel was slated for demolition and a few concerned citizens contacted the now reclusive Connors and asked for his help. Connors had become a “recluse” due to his ongoing disagreements with the Canadian music business. The Carleton Place plea to Connors himself got the ball rolling to save the hotel and he and the Mississippi Hotel made national news.

Connors refused all requests for live interviews but released a written statement:

All that can be done must be done to preserve this “Grand Ole Lady.”

And with those few words the Mississipppi Hotel was spared from demolition. 

Later in 1998 he played a sold-out concert in Carleton Place and the town attempted to present him with a plaque commemorating him on behalf of his contribution to the town and the “Grand Ole’ Lady”. Tom being Tom refused to accept it and the plaque was left with his management.

On the “Greatest Canadians” list Stompin’ Tom comes in at number 13 but in the town of Carleton Place he is nothing but number one. Connors, a once traveling country singer ended up changing the history of Carleton Place, Ontario and the Mississippi Hotel because of a one month stay over forty-four years ago.

Now Stompin Tom rest is gone. I was truly hoping one day Tom might come back so every gray stone of the ‘Grand Ole Lady’ can thank him properly for saving her from demolition.

This blog is dedicated to the memory of Stompin’ Tom Connors, and may you rest in peace.

Written in 2011

Photos by Linda Seccaspina

Stompin’ Tom Connors

If you don’t think that your country should come before yourself, you can better serve your country by livin’ someplace else.
– Stompin’ Tom Connors

Walking With Ghosts — Murders and Mysteries of the Mississippi Hotel – Zoomer

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Walking With Ghosts — Murders and Mysteries of the Mississippi Hotel – Zoomer.