Just a short Stan Rogers story, but one that I think shows the mettle of the man. Faro, a small lead/zinc mining town in the Yukon Territory, hosted the legendary Farrago Folk Festival for a very few years. I moved to Faro to teach school in 1979, in the heyday of the Farrago Folk Festival. The mine manager's wife, who was the chief organizer and artistic director of the festival, conscripted my housemate and I to organize the hospitality for the event in September, 1980. I still remember a thrill from the welcoming dinner for the musicians and artists, held in the Faro Rec Centre’s Sportsman Lounge—I was heading up the stairs with a coffee pot and I could hear Stan Rogers start to sing “Rolling Down to Old Maui” in his deep and memorable voice. Everyone joined in, of course, and the tone was set for the rest of the weekend.
The story that I wanted to tell, however, was this: as the hospitality coordinator, one of my tasks was to organize a tour of the mine site. The bus to the mine, a few miles away, left from the Rec. Centre at 10:00 a.m. on a chilly Saturday morning, the second day of the festival. As you can imagine, Friday was a wild and very late night, and getting on that bus for the mine tour on Saturday morning was the last thing I felt like doing. Was there a bus full of musicians eagerly anticipating the tour? No. Only one. Stan Rogers. I remember nothing extraordinary about the trip or our conversation, but to me, his obvious interest and attention throughout the tour was an indicator of the kind of man he was, and why he touched Canadians in a way that few songwriters have.