Sladkowski has been named the 2020 keeper of the electric Maple Leaf Forever guitar, one of two instruments made of wood sourced from a silver maple tree that is said to have inspired Canadian song "The Maple Leaf Forever."
The guitarist shared a gallery of some of the instrument's detail on social media alongside the announcement. The photos feature a Canadian silver dollar set in the back of the headstock, while the instrument also features a maple leaf inlay at the fifth fret.
"The Maple Leaf Forever" was written in 1867 by Alexander Muir in celebration of Canada's confederation. After the century-old tree was felled by a storm in 2013, a public campaign led to pieces of the silver maple to be used for commemorative projects.
Blue Rodeo guitarist Colin Cripps and former NDP MP Craig Scott had the idea to build a pair of guitars using the wood in 2014. The acoustic guitar, modelled after a 1944 Gibson J-45, was built by Peterborough-based luthier Dave Fox, while the electric model Sladkowski received was built by luthier Tom Bartlett.
Both instruments are held by the the Maple Leaf Forever Guitar Trust and are loaned to selected musicians for an entire year. Past keepers of the guitars include Cripps, the Tragically Hip's Paul Langlois, Royal Wood, Sam Roberts and Jason Barry.
Sladkowski and his PUP bandmates released Morbid Stuff last year, which Exclaim! named one of the 20 Best Pop and Rock Records of 2019.
We also named their "DVP" one of the 50 Best Canadian Songs of the 2010s, while album The Dream Is Over was named one of the 50 Best Canadian Albums of the 2010s.
I am beyond grateful to @bartlettguitars for contacting me about playing the Maple Leaf Forever Guitar for the next year. This beast is inspired by a '59 Les Paul burst and the wood was sourced from the tree that inspired the song "The Maple Leaf Forever." pic.twitter.com/E0b2l0LTon— Steve Sladkowski (@sladkow) January 22, 2020
It has been played by The Tragically Hip, Sam Roberts, Leslie Feist, and Colin Cripps; and now, for some reason, it's here with me. Swipe through for some incredibly cool detail and come see it on the road if you're at a PUP show anytime soon.— Steve Sladkowski (@sladkow) January 22, 2020