Canadian Folk Songs: a change of pace

Some Canadian folk songs – a change of pace for this blog because what with all the “dark” stuff I’ve been following, I need a change of pace myself.  I hope you enjoy these, and others you will find on those YouTube pages.

The first song I present is “LOG DRIVER’S WALTZ”  It comes with a great cartoon video.    (log driver’s waltz)

Long ago in another life (!) I heard many of these old songs from the French Canadian perspective (well, I was raised with those people after all, and learned much of their colourful history and traditions!), but the English translation takes nothing from it at all.

This second one is by Stan Rogers, a great Canadian folk singer.  (I’ve included the lyrics with this song because there is a fantastic message for all of us at the end.)  


She went down last October in a pouring driving rain
The skipper, he’d been drinking and the Mate, he felt no pain
Too close to Three Mile Rock, and she was dealt her mortal blow
And the Mary Ellen Carter settled low
There was just us five aboard her when she finally was awash
We’d worked like hell to save her, all heedless of the cost
And the groan she gave as she went down, it caused us to proclaim
That the Mary Ellen Carter would rise again

Well, the owners wrote her off; not a nickel would they spend
She gave twenty years of service, boys, then met her sorry end
But insurance paid the loss to us, so let her rest below
Then they laughed at us and said we had to go
But we talked of her all winter, some days around the clock
She’s worth a quarter million, afloat and at the dock
And with every jar that hit the bar, we swore we would remain
And make the Mary Ellen Carter rise again

[Chorus:] Rise again, rise again, that her name not be lost
To the knowledge of men
Those who loved her best and were with her till the end
Will make the Mary Ellen Carter rise again
All spring, now, we’ve been with her on a barge lent by a friend
Three dives a day in hard hat suit and twice I’ve had the bends
Thank God it’s only sixty feet and the currents here are slow
Or I’d never have the strength to go below
But we’ve patched her rents, stopped her vents, dogged hatch and porthole down
Put cables to her, ‘fore and aft and girded her around
Tomorrow, noon, we hit the air and then take up the strain
And make the Mary Ellen Carter Rise Again

[Chorus] For we couldn’t leave her there, you see, to crumble into scale
She’d saved our lives so many times, living through the gale
And the laughing, drunken rats who left her to a sorry grave
They won’t be laughing in another day

And you, to whom adversity has dealt the final blow
With smiling bastards lying to you everywhere you go
Turn to, and put out all your strength of arm and heart and brain
And like the Mary Ellen Carter, rise again

Rise again, rise again; though your heart it be broken
And life about to end
No matter what you’ve lost, be it a home, a love, a friend
Like the Mary Ellen Carter, rise again

Rise again, rise again; though your heart it be broken
And life about to end
No matter what you’ve lost, be it a home, a love, a friend
Like the Mary Ellen Carter, rise again


9 thoughts on “Canadian Folk Songs: a change of pace

  1. We come from dreams ~

    These two pieces were an absolute gift, and the final lyrics to ‘The Mary Ellen Carter’ are a real inspiration!
    …….and somehow, I have the feeling that you fancied a log driver or two!

    Sara Jane


  2. Sha'Tara Post author

    Hell yeah! Les draveurs (Franglish for the drivers) were my heroes. Silly but I had tears in my eyes watching that little video and listening to the lyrics…


  3. Debra

    Oh! That was a trip down memory lane. They used to show that NFB carton on tv all the time when I was a kid. Canada has a bunch of really lovely old folk songs: “Farewell to Nova Scotia,” and “The Huron Carol” leap to mind. I -think- the children’s song “The Cart Came Back” also has Canadian roots. Thanks so much for this =)


    1. Sha'Tara Post author

      You’re very welcome. Canada’s eastern peoples (French, Metis, English) have a rich heritage blended in with its European roots, particularly its Celtic roots. I was raised in the Peace River country, northern Alberta, among French Canadian people. They had basically their own schools up there, French, Catholic combined with the Alberta gov. curriculum. Anyway, from my parents I got a lot of awareness of my own Celtic (Breton) heritage where I was born, and from those inimitable French Canadians, a mixed history of “coureurs de bois” for the North West Company, the “bucherons” and their tall tales; heroic tales of Dollard des Ormeaux, Madeleine de Vercheres, the tragic story of the deportation of the Acadians (Evangeline) and so on. Bit of a trip down memory lane for me too. And I still love singing “Farewell to Nova Scotia”!



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