Canada lost one of it’s greatest sons and cultural exports on June 2, 1983 when the great folk legend Stan Rogers died in a tragic plane crash. Stan, who was returning home aboard Air Canada flight 797 from a folk festival in the United States, perished along with 22 other people when a fire broke out in the washroom and forced the plane to make an emergency landing admidst flames and heavy smoke. Stan Rogers was only 33.
The contribution Stan Rogers made to folk music is considered immense, and enthusists only shudder to think what may have been if Stan lived a long and healthy life. His short rise to the top of the folk music scene produced over a hundred original songs, many of which were already recieved as classics during his life. Dozens of artists continue to cover his songs and carry on his legacy, that of a man who cared about his country, his family and his music.
Stan Rogers was an artist in the purest form of the word. A perfectionist, he held public opinion in great esteem, and his fellow folk artists, in crafting powerful, timeless songs that focused primarily on the nation to which he was born and grew up in.
Although Stan Rogers was born in Ontario, he did not confine himself to singing from a narrow regional perspective. He wrote and performed some of the strongest Maritime songs ever, including “Fogarty’s Cove”, “Mary Ellen Carter” and perhaps his most famous work, “Barrett’s Privateers”. He wrote songs about the Artic, the Prairies, and almost every other province and territory in hist vast homeland. He considered both Nova Scotia and Calgary as second homes, among others, and represented Canadian sentiments as fine as any author, politican or artist in the past hundred years.
Stan’s passing left a legacy of both poetry and song that will continue to be examined and performed for an infinite amount of time. Recently a folk festival in Canso, Nova Scotia was created in Stan’s honour, a distinction that surely would have made Stan Rogers proud. A man who had struggled so hard to define himself in the folk world is now one of it’s greatest artists. Somewhere, a Giant is smiling…