I discovered an amazing song today written by a Canadian singer/songwriter by the name of Rodney Brown. In the same tradition as Gordon Lightfoot and Stan Rogers, Rodney has a keen ear for history and has brought the Northwest to life in this song.
Although it doesn't mention our area per se, it does touch who we were, and are. I think you'll really enjoy the lyrics, but go here to actually hear the song. Hearing Rodney sing the song will put chills down your spine!
The Big Lonely by Rodney Brown
Beautiful but terrifies, bountiful but bleak
Make you high, exhaust your mind make a strong man weak
The year is 1783, spent thirty days at sea
Gotta cross this mighty ocean
The highlanders have fled New York for a Montreal canoe,
The Great Lakes, the Black Spruce, the Northwest Rendezvous
The voyageurs, the coureurs de bois, the Ojibway and the Cree
They know how a man can fall ... for the big lonely1
A gentleman, a partner, beaver pelts I trade,
Fort Kaministiquia will soon bear my name,
From a highland farm in the Scottish hills to a prince on an inland sea
The ice is gone, the lakes are free
Spring like hope with its blossoms and rain
Gives way to summers of passion and play
I long to see my summer love again
We bring you silk and ribbons, London hats and beads
Tobacco twists and violins, Irish linen, threads and seeds
Four point blankets for the winters, kegs of rum to keep you warm
We'll dress like kings and dance till dawn
"A la facon du nord", my beautiful Anishnawbe
My Métis sons will love the land and work the fur trade
We'll win those battles in 1812 but they'll give it all away.
In the Treaty of Ghent, the government and the big lonely ...
It's the beauty that my heart will never hold
Brings a shelter of sadness on my soul
This land of plenty this land we bought and sold
My summer wife is buried now outside these fortress walls
My sons inscribe her headstone with a tribute to them all
"The mother of the country, the daughter of the land"
We leave you poor with beggars hands ...
In London town the deal was signed in 18212
The Hudson Bay Company had finally won
The Ojibway chiefs and all the tribe marched into the Great Hall
Hunger and death were the blackbird’s call
In the Big Lonely
My schooner sails to my Montreal Canoe
I’ll not return to a Northwest rendezvous
To the whisper of a blackbird and the vision that came true
Sailin' back to Inverness to live there once again
I dream of my dark eyed Susan and my blue eyed Magdellan
Gave a lifetime to the New World and the Northwest Company
My heart I gave to the land they call The Big Lonely
1 - A very Canadian term, generally referring to 'the North'
2 - 1821 was the year HBC merged with the North West Company