We’re celebrating Canada’s 150th Birthday on Episode 331 of Folk Roots Radio. As Canada celebrates this important milestone, we’ve put together a very special edition of the show that celebrates the history and diversity of the country we’re proud to call our home, while recognizing the fact that Canada’s first nations inhabited this land long before the settlers came. Joining us on this episode are Asani, Tudjaat, Andrea Menard, Same Latitude As Rome, Cotillion, Bruce Cockburn, Maria Dunn, Mike Ford, James Gordon, Stompin’ Tom Connors, Jason Collett, Marc Jordan & Ian Thomas and Toronto Children’s Chorus with Jean Ashworth Bartle & Ruth Watson Henderson. We hope you enjoy the mix we’ve put together. Happy Canada Day everyone! Check out the full playlist below.
Asani are an aboriginal women’s a cappella group from Edmonton in Alberta featuring Debbie Houle, Sarah Pocklington, and Sherryl Sewepagahan. We love their re-imagined version of Canada’s National Anthem that acknowledges the first nation peoples who make their home within the land mass we now know as Canada have contributed significantly to the country’s cultural mosaic. “O, Canada”, the Canadian national anthem, was originally written in French in 1880. The English version was chosen as the country’s official anthem in 1980. I have to say I prefer the Asani version which more fully recognizes the diversity of this nation.
Tudjaat were a vocal duo from Nunavut featuring Madeleine Allakariallak and Phoebe Atagotaaluk. The song “Qiugauiit” was written by Jon Park-Wheeler and Randall Prescott and appears on the 1990 Putumayo album “A Native American Odyssey: Inuit to Inca”.
Andrea Menard‘s Métis heritage provided inspiration for her 2007 album “Simple Steps”. In Metis Hands, she sings of the birth of the Métis people and reflects on the statement made by Louis Riel that “My people will sleep for 100 years and when they awake, it will be the artists who give them back their spirit.”
Southern Ontario singer-songwriter Peter Boyer and his band Same Latitude As Rome put out a wonderfully engaging album of Canadian history in song “Early Days” in 2015, and follows up the success of the bands previous CD “1812”. On this episode we play the title track which discusses the arrival of the first settlers. “Early Days” was recorded at Blue Gull Studio in Waterloo, Ontario and produced by the legendary musician and songwriter JK Gulley.
According to Peter Boyer: “I chose these stories because they each contribute in their own way, towards our national identity as Canadians, and a surprising few of us know much about these stories. The early days of Canada were remarkable times, and as I began researching them, the stories told themselves. You can’t make up stuff like this!”
Peter Boyer joined us on Folk Roots Radio to chat about the Early Days project. You can find that interview on the website HERE.
The song “Away To Canada” is all about slaves escaping from the US to Canada on the Underground Railway, and features lyrics that found their way into a Windsor black community newspaper “The Voice of the Fugitive” in 1851, before being made into a song with a tune by Stephen Foster. Transatlantic folk band Cotillion features Brad McEwen from Cambridge ON on vocals and cittern, with accompaniment from Fran Wade on fiddle and vocals and Kevin Bown on cello and vocals who make their home in Stroud, Gloucestershire, England.
Maria Dunn‘s song “In The Shadow of the Rockies/ As I Walk Through Canada” is all about the forced internment of Ukrainian Canadians in Alberta during the First World War. You can find it on her 2004 album
“We Were Good People” (2011, Distant Whisper Music).
“Growing up in Alberta with the Rockies as a favourite holiday destination, I only learned about the WWI internment of Ukrainian Canadians in the national parks on a trip to Jasper in Spring 2000. There, I came across Bill Waiser’s book, Park Prisoners. Shortly afterwards, I read In the Shadow of the Rockies: Diary of the Castle Mountain Internment Camp, 1915-1917 by Bodhan Kordan & Peter Melnycky. When war broke out in 1914, Galicia was part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, and Ukrainian immigrants (often referred to as “Galicians” in the early 1900s) became “enemy aliens” in Canada, the very place that had actively encouraged their immigration. Ironically, most of them viewed their former Austro-Hungarian rulers not with loyalty, but as occupiers and exploiters of their Ukrainian homeland. Ethnomusicologist and musician Brian Cherwick chose the traditional Ukrainian tune that follows the song. “As I Walk Through Canada” is taken from a field recording made by Robert B. Klymasz of a song sung by Mrs. M. Baraensky, Mrs. G. Kuprowsky and Mrs. S. Stjaharj in Sheho, Saskatchewan, 1964. It was published in Klymasz’s An Introduction to the Ukrainian-Canadian Immigrant Folksong Cycle, Folklore Series 8. Ottawa: National Museum of Canada.”
Mike Ford is another songwriter who loves to educate in song. On this episode we play the title track from his 2005 children’s album “Canada Needs You” which features songs written around lives and events from pre-1905 Canada. Mike put out a second volume in the series in 2008 which focuses on the twentieth century. I love the playful way he shares stories about Canada. I guess that makes me a big kid.
James Gordon has written enough songs about Canada and his travels across the country to put out several Canada Day albums. On this episode we play two of his songs created when he was songwriter in residence on the Arthur Black’s long-running eclectic CBC Radio show “Basic Black”. Basic Black ran from 1983 until 2002.
No Canada Day playlist would be complete without a Stompin’ Tom Connors song. I love the word play on “Cross Canada”. It’s one of those tunes I never tire of, and it permanently lives on my iPod as part of the accompaniment for my early morning weeks.
“Canada’s Really Big” by Canadian comedy trio The Arrogant Worms is another wonderfully playful song with a very serious point. After twenty-two years and counting, the vastness of the country I now call home still blows my mind. The version of the song we play on this episode come from The Arrogant Worms 2003 album “Semi-Conducted”, recorded with the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra.
Harlan Wells song “Canadiana” comes from his 2015 folksy country roots album “Waiting for June”.
Singer-songwriter Deborah Holland gave up a life in Los Angeles in 2010 to move to Vancouver. She documented her reasons for moving in her song “I Wanna Be A Canadian” on her album “Vancouver” (2013, Self), a love letter to her new hometown. It’s a great song, and definitely worth checking out and, especially so, for the reminder of why we’re lucky to live in Canada.
Song For Canada was created by Paul Halley for the 1989 Canada Day Celebrations. It’s performed annually on Parliament Hill in Ottawa and extols the beauty of Canada’s landscape and the rich cultural diversity of its people.
Focusing on the power of voices, “Sing It Together” – the anthem for the Music Monday – Music Education awareness campaign, asks us all to sing for joy, for truth, for healing… and for freedom. A perfect sentiment to wrap up a special Canada Day edition of Folk Roots Radio.
The song features Inuit throat singing, Métis fiddling, indigenous drumming, and children’s choirs in celebration of Canada’s musical heritage. Creating Sing It Together was a journey of discovery and Marc Jordan and Ian Thomas, who encourage music makers everywhere to continue this joy in discovery where ever music lives in schools and communities. For more information about Music Monday, visit musicmonday.ca.
And that’s all we have time for, this time around. Thanks to all the artists who share their music with us, and thank you for listening. We have a lot of great music and interviews to bring you on future shows. I hope you’ll join us!
You can listen to this episode again on Soundcloud by following the link below. You can also listen to episodes of Folk Roots Radio, on demand, via iTunes, Stitcher and Tune-in Radio. (Click on the highlighted link to reach your chosen platform.)
Nicolas & The Iceni (Theme)
Lucy She Rises (Demo)
Roll Right (Pre-release, self)
Listen (2009, Meta4music) CDN
A Native American Odyssey: Inuit to Inca (1998, Putamayo) CDN
Simple Steps (2007, Independent) CDN
Same Latitude As Rome
The Early Days
Early Days (2015, Self) CDN
Away To Canada
Away To Canada (2014, Self) CDN
When It’s Gone, It’s Gone
Speechless (1991, True North) CDN
In The Shadow of the Rockies/ As I Walk Through Canada
We Were Good People (2011, Distant Whisper Music) CDN
Canada Needs You
Canada Needs You (2005, Maple Music Recordings) CDN
A Canadian Heritage Minute
Road Kill Hat (2001, Pipe Street Records) CDN
Stompin’ Tom Connors
My Stompin’ Grounds (1972, Stompin Tom Limited / Universal) CDN
The Arrogant Worms
Canada’s Really Big
Semi-Conducted (2003, Arrogant Worms Records) CDN
Waiting for June (2015, One Fell Swoop Recordings) CDN
I Wanna Be A Canadian
Vancouver (2013, Self)
We’re Canadians, And We’re Sorry
Tune Cooties (2002, Pipe Street Records) CDN
Love Song To Canada
To Wit To Woo E.P. (2010, Arts & Crafts) CDN