Secret Path

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Secret Path
Secret Path cover art.jpg
Studio album by
ReleasedOctober 18, 2016
RecordedNovember 3–10, 2013
November 27–December 2, 2013
StudioThe Bathouse Recording Studio, Bath, ON, Canada,
LabelArts & Crafts Productions
ProducerKevin Drew, Dave Hamelin
Gord Downie chronology
And the Conquering Sun
Secret Path
Introduce Yerself
Professional ratings
Review scores
Pitchfork Media(8.0/10) [1]

Secret Path is a Canadian multimedia art project including a music album and tour, a graphic novel, and a television film. The centrepiece is Secret Path, the fifth studio album by Gord Downie and the final album released during his lifetime. Released on October 18, 2016,[1] the project is a concept album about Chanie Wenjack, a young Anishinaabe boy from the Marten Falls First Nation who died in 1966 while trying to return home after escaping from an Indian residential school.[2] All proceeds from the album and book are being donated to the University of Manitoba's National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation.[2]

The album was accompanied by a graphic novel of the same name, written by Downie and illustrated by Jeff Lemire,[1] as well as an animated television film aired on CBC Television on October 23, 2016.[3] Downie performed the album in a concert at Roy Thomson Hall on October 21, 2016, which was his last full concert performance in his lifetime and was attended by members of the Wenjack family. The concert was aired by CBC Television in October 2017 following Downie's death.


The project was widely adopted by many Canadian schools as a teaching tool in indigenous history lessons on the residential school system,[4] and led to the creation of the Gord Downie and Chanie Wenjack Fund to support efforts in indigenous reconciliation.[5]

In October 2018 CBC Television aired Finding the Secret Path, a documentary about the making of the album which was directed by Downie's brother, Mike Downie.[6]

Live performances[edit]

Downie performed the album in a concert at the Roy Thomson Hall on October 21, 2016, attended by members of the Wenjack family. The concert, Downie's last live performance, was filmed for an hour-long special, Gord Downie's Secret Path in Concert, which also featured backstage footage and scenes from the animated film. The special aired on October 22, 2017 on CBC Television, following Downie's death earlier that week.[7]


The album won two Juno Awards at the Juno Awards of 2017, for Adult Alternative Album of the Year and Recording Package of the Year, and Downie won Songwriter of the Year for the songs "The Stranger", "The Only Place to Be" and "Son". The album was also a shortlisted nominee for the 2017 Polaris Music Prize.[8]

At the 6th Canadian Screen Awards, the television film received nominations for the Donald Brittain Award and Best Music in a Non-Fiction Program. It won the Best Music award at the non-fiction programming event on March 6, 2017,[9] and the Donald Brittain Award at the broadcast gala on March 11.[10]

At the 7th Canadian Screen Awards, the concert special won two awards, for best variety or entertainment special and best sound in a non-fiction program.[11]

At the 8th Canadian Screen Awards, Finding the Secret Path won the awards for Biography or Arts Documentary Program or Series and Best Direction in a Documentary Program (Mike Downie).[12]

Track listing[edit]

All tracks written by Gord Downie unless otherwise noted.

1."The Stranger"5:33
2."Swing Set"3:20
3."Seven Matches"3:31
4."I Will Not Be Struck"4:02
6."Secret Path" (Downie, Kevin Drew)4:12
7."Don't Let This Touch You" (Downie, Drew)5:05
8."Haunt Them, Haunt Them, Haunt Them" (Downie, Drew)5:02
9."The Only Place to Be"2:55
10."Here, Here and Here" (Downie, Drew)4:13


Additional personnel[edit]

  • Engineered by Nyles Spencer
  • Mastered by Eric Boulanger, The Bakery, Culver City, California, USA[13]


Chart (2016) Peak
Canadian Albums (Billboard)[14] 4


  1. ^ a b "Gord Downie to release solo album, graphic novel next month". CTV News, September 9, 2016.
  2. ^ a b "Gord Downie to release album, graphic novel about residential schools". The Globe and Mail, September 9, 2016.
  3. ^ "Gord Downie Announces 'Secret Path' Solo Album, Graphic Novel and TV Special". Exclaim!, September 9, 2016.
  4. ^ "Peterborough teacher incorporates Gord Downie’s ‘Secret Path’ for Indigenous history lessons". Global News, November 2, 2017.
  5. ^ "Downie-Wenjack fund receives $5M in 2018 federal budget". CBC News Thunder Bay, February 27, 2018.
  6. ^ "Gord Downie’s final year captured in CBC doc Finding the Secret Path". Hamilton Spectator, October 11, 2018.
  7. ^ "Gord Downie's Secret Path in Concert to premiere Sunday, October 22 on CBC". CBC Arts. Retrieved 2018-01-09.
  8. ^ "Polaris Music Prize shortlist includes Leonard Cohen, Gord Downie". The Globe and Mail, July 13, 2017.
  9. ^ "2018 Canadian Screen Awards honour national media". CTV News Toronto, March 6, 2018.
  10. ^ "Canadian Screen Awards 2018: Maudie, Anne, Kim's Convenience win top prizes". CBC News, March 11, 2018.
  11. ^ "Gord Downie's Secret Path, Amazing Race and CBC News among Canadian Screen Awards winners". CBC News, March 26, 2019.
  12. ^ Brent Furdyk, "Canadian Screen Awards 2020: Non-Fiction Winners Revealed". ET Canada, May 25, 2020.
  13. ^
  14. ^ "Billboard Canadian Albums: Top Albums Chart". Billboard. Retrieved November 1, 2016.

External links[edit]