The Inherent Canadianness at the Heart of the New Liskeard Bikers Reunion
Canada's the second biggest country in the world. But you know what? It doesn't feel that way to me. When I go from town to town and city to city in this great country of ours, playing festivals and meeting fans, it feels like the greatest little town on earth. You know the kind of place I mean. A place probably a lot like where you grew up if you were lucky. Or maybe a place a lot like Sudbury, where I’m from. Full of families. Of new neighbours and old friendships and hard workers and carefree kids and small businesses and union workers and caregivers and volunteers.
Community is what Canada is about. People living next door to one another and working together—whether it was your neighbour helping you clear land 200 years ago, or donating money to help the people of Fort McMurray a few months ago. And nowhere was that sense of community more evident to me than at the Last Bikers Reunion in New Liskeard, Ontario, on Canada Day. Man—what a ride!
The Bikers Reunion was started 15 years ago by an amazing guy called Barry Phippen. He wanted to raise money for local families affected by cancer. So he started up this family-friendly event where people could come together and listen to music, eat good food, enjoy the weather and just be part of this crazy time along with 25,000 other folks. Because there’s nothing better than doing something for a good cause and having a blast while you’re doing it. Barry is one of the most humble guys I've ever met, by the way—full of gratitude for the volunteers that made the event possible year after year. Your community probably has someone like him too. Someone who just inspires other people and helps make the world a better place.
So thanks to Barry and his team of volunteers. What an event it was!
My band and I pulled into our campground spot late on the night of June 30, and you could already feel the energy in the air. So many people around just chatting, comparing travel times, admiring bikes, getting to know one another. In fact, one nice couple, Judie and Charlie Martin, took me, my wife Terri and my daughter Olivia on an evening cruise around Lake Temiskaming. Beautiful. That's the kind of good people you meet up there. Just willing to share what they've got.
The next day, I hopped on my sweet Harley Davidson, the Heritage Softail Classic, on loan from my buddy Greg Erixon, owner of The Rock Harley Davidson in Sudbury, and just cruised around this great landscape of ours with a couple buddies of mine. Through the hills and back roads and farming communities around New Liskeard, the weather was good and the road was clear. Being out there and experiencing the Ontario outdoors and being able to share it with all the other bikers was really something. I won't ever forget it. Add that to the shows we saw, the lawnmower racing, trapeze artists, tribute bands, and you can see what makes it so special.
If you’ve never been up to that area of Northeastern Ontario, I’d go take a look. It doesn’t get much better than a hot sunny day up there. And believe me, everywhere you go people are friendly and willing to chat—whether it’s about world events or the best spot for coffee in town. Us Canadians are the same wherever you go, I think. Just good people trying to get by. Trying to make their families better. Their communities better. Trying to do the right thing. And always up for a little music, a good time, and a chance to get a little wild.