The Tragically Hip to receive honorary Queen’s degree

Acclaimed rock band began in Kingston

The Tragically Hip will receive their honorary degrees this Spring.
The Tragically Hip will receive their honorary degrees this Spring.
The Tragically Hip
Renowned musicians The Tragically Hip will be among the 16 people receiving honorary degrees from Queen’s this spring. 
On May 19, all five members of the rock band — Rob Baker, Gord Sinclair, Paul Langlois, Gordon Downie and Johnny Fay — will be among the first to receive their honorary doctorate of law degrees alongside medical school graduates from the Class of 2016. Honorary degrees grant the recognition and prestige of a Queen’s degree without the usual required coursework.
The band has a long history in Kingston. In the early 1980s, when the Underground was still Alfie’s and when Stauffer didn’t exist, “The Hip” was born at the KCVI, a local high school.
“Rob [Baker] and Gord Sinclair grew up across the street from each other and were in the same grade,” said Michèle Langlois, brother of Paul Langlois, in an email to The Journal. “[They] jammed a lot together and had a band in high school called Rick and the Rodents.” 
Other members of the band — Langlois, Downie and Fay — were two years younger but also attended KCVI. Lead guitarist Baker, Sinclair and Downie all graduated from Queen’s. 
Baker received a Bachelor of Fine Arts in 1986, while Gord Sinclair graduated in the same year and Downie in 1988. Baker, Downie, Sinclair, Johnny Fay and a fifth member — Davis Manning —  began to play together when Baker and Sinclair were in second year at Queen’s. 
“[Their] first gig was a Kingston Arts Council fundraiser at the Modern Fuel Gallery on Queen Street,” said Michèle Langlois. In 1986, the same year that Baker and Sinclair graduated, Paul Langlois joined the band and David Manning decided to move on. 
The Tragically Hip played exclusively in small town Ontario venues until they were discovered and signed by MCA in the mid-1980s. Their first release, a self-titled EP, produced the two singles “Highway Girl” and “Small Town Take-Down”. 
The Hip first topped the Canadian charts in 1991 with the release of Road Apples, their third studio album. Their career skyrocketed with several chart topping albums in 1992 and 1994, and they appeared as musical guests on Saturday Night Live in 1996.
After the release of their seventh studio album in 1999, they won several Juno awards and achieved platinum success three times. Fast forward to 2014, and they’re on a headlining tour to celebrate their return to the studio with a re-mastered version of Fully Completely on the horizon. 
That year, Baker was awarded the 2014 Padre Laverty Award from the Queen’s University Alumni Kingston Branch. The award honoured his successful music career and recognized his efforts to support the arts community at Queen’s. 
“Sinclair, Langlois and Baker are all currently Kingston residents. [They] are very supportive of the Kingston arts community and of the Queen’s and Kingston community as a whole,” Michèle Langlois wrote. 
“They show tremendous support for local live music, local visual and theatre arts.
Journalist Ali Velshi and former Queen’s University Chaplain Brian Yealland are also receiving honorary degrees along with eight other recipients. 
The Tragically Hip will receive their honorary degrees at 2:30 p.m. on May 19 at Grant Hall.

All final editorial decisions are made by the Editor(s)-in-Chief and/or the Managing Editor. Authors should not be contacted, targeted, or harassed under any circumstances. If you have any grievances with this article, please direct your comments to

When commenting, be considerate and respectful of writers and fellow commenters. Try to stay on topic. Spam and comments that are hateful or discriminatory will be deleted. Our full commenting policy can be read here.