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‘Absolutely wonderful writer’: Tribute to Gordon Lightfoot added to Salmon Arm’s treble clef

Visible reminder of iconic songwriter to come down this coming weekend
The treble clef at the end of Alexander Street in Salmon Arm has held a banner with the words “Our Musical Laureate - Gordon Lightfoot” since the Canadian icon’s death on May 1, 2023. The banner will be coming down during the weekend of May 13. (Martha Wickett-Salmon Arm Observer)

Bill Laird, the man behind the huge orange treble clef at the end of Alexander Street in Salmon Arm, was met with a question first thing on the morning of May 2.

“Linda got up Tuesday morning and said, ‘You’re going to do something, right?’” explained Laird, referring to his spouse.

She was talking about iconic Canadian singer-songwriter Gordon Lightfoot, 84, who died on Monday, May 1, in a Toronto hospital.

They talked about a banner and argued whether it should say ‘musical laureate’ or just ‘laureate.’

Then things got rolling.

“My wife gets the credit for the idea and everybody else gets the credit for pitching in,” said Laird, emphasizing his part was minuscule.

He reached Lew Dies and Jamie Walters at Spectrum Signworks, who immediately went to work creating a banner. He also contacted Joe Chartier at Shuswap Rentals, who provided a hoist. The banner was hung on the treble clef by 3 p.m. that day.

“I want to stress how much they helped,” he reiterated.

Read more: Legendary folk singer-songwriter Gordon Lightfoot dies at 84

Laird explained that Linda grew up in Ontario, where she and her brother Roger taught themselves to play guitar by listening to Gordon Lightfoot.

“Linda was playing Lightfoot before I met her,” he said, but Lightfoot songs soon became a common soundscape in their home.

The couple also went to see him perform a couple of times and to his hometown, Orillia, Ont.

Linda has been singing Lightfoot tunes steadily since his death, Laird said.

“He’s been a big part of our musical life. It is a big thing for Canada. He was absolutely a wonderful writer. Some of his ballads are amazing.”

This weekend, the “Our Musical Laureate - Gordon Lightfoot” banner will be coming down, but his musical creations won’t be soon forgotten, not at the Lairds’ home, nor, undoubtedly, in many others across the country.

Read more: Canada’s musical community weighs in on Gordon Lightfoot’s ‘genius’ and influence

Read more: IN PHOTOS AND VIDEO: The world’s largest treble clef unveiled to a crowd of 500 in Salmon Arm
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Martha Wickett

About the Author: Martha Wickett

came to Salmon Arm in May of 2004 to work at the Observer. I was looking for a change from the hustle and bustle of the Lower Mainland, where I had spent more than a decade working in community newspapers.
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