That final Tragically Hip show in Kingston on Saturday night was an amazing shared experience for millions of Canadians.
The band walked out on stage to “Fifty Mission Cap” from their 1993 album, Fully Completely.
I love the song which tells the story of former Toronto Maple Leaf Bill Barilko. It is a true story about the Leafs’ defenseman who scored an overtime goal against the Montreal Canadiens in 1951. That goal won the Leafs the cup…and as the song says, would be the last goal he ever scored.
That summer he went on a fishing trip in Northern Quebec and disappeared. His body was not discovered for another 11 years outside Cochrane, Ontario. Weirdly, the Leafs would win the cup that season as well.
In the song “Fifty Mission Cap,” Gord Downie talks about learning this story from a hockey card tucked up in his 50 mission cap.
So what exactly is a 50 mission cap? The 50 mission cap was a hat handed out to Allied bomber pilots during World War 2. The pilots would earn the hat after completing 50 missions, and it was the one piece of their uniform they were allowed work in, and let get a little dirty. The hats were a symbol of pride for the pilots and signalled to new pilots that they were veteran of combat missions. You can read more at the Hip Museum website.
Being the Elvis of useless information, I have told many a folk after a couple cocktails that a 50 mission cap or hat was awarded to pilots who flew 50 successful bombing missions. This is where you would tuck your Hockey card. Bill who died on a fishing trip, not like other famous maple leaf Tim Horton who died while drinking and driving. #50missioncap #timhorton #tragicallyhip #buffalobudbuster #uselessfacts
“this song is called ‘Flag on your Knapsack.'” – Thank you Gord.