Your Cross-Canada Playlist
Whether you’re driving through the Rockies or admiring the seemingly endless Prairie land, there’s nothing like a good tune to accompany your road trip.
by Danelle Cloutier
“The Vancouver Song” by Treelines
These Vancouver-based folk musicians largely find inspiration from Canada’s wilderness. This song was created for the PEAK Performance Project, a music program that’s meant to educate, promote, develop, and launch the careers of up and coming artists in British Columbia and Alberta.
“Alberta Bound” by Gordon Lightfoot
Canadian folk icon Gordon Lightfoot often sings about the Canadian experience and his song “Alberta Bound” is exactly that. The song was allegedly inspired by a teenage girl who he met on the bus while travelling to Calgary in 1971. He was born in Orillia, Ontario and the city is unveiling a thirteen-foot tall statue of the Canadian music legend this summer.
“Saskatoon, SK” by Eamon McGrath
Eamon McGrath’s song “Saskatoon, SK” is both a nod and a goodbye to his second home. Originally from Edmonton and now living in Toronto, McGrath has always had a connection to Saskatoon. The audiences there have always supported him and playing music on the Prairies seemed so much louder than playing in Toronto because his amplifier was like a mountain on the flat ground.
“Moody Manitoba Morning” by The Five Bells
This 1969 hit was popular in the Prairie province during the 1970s and ’80s. More recently, the song was revived in Guy Madden’s 2007 film, My Winnipeg. The Five Bells (later known only as The Bells) was formed in Montreal in the mid-1960s. “Moody Manitoba Morning,” written by Rick Neufeld, was only the beginning of the band’s success — they eventually sold five million albums worldwide.
“Born in Ontario” by Neil Young
Beloved Canadian musician and activist Neil Young plays tribute to his home province in “Born in Ontario,” released in 2012 on his thirty-third studio album, Psychedelic Pill. Young is known for his personal lyrics and this song is no exception. In it he sings, “I left home at a tender young age ‘cause mom and daddy never liked to stay in any one place for very long. We just kept moving, moving on. I was born in Ontario.”
“Hello Montreal!” by The Harmonians
During Prohibition in the 1920s and early 1930s, Montreal was a popular spot for Americans. Entertainers and gamblers were among the most frequent visitors to nightclubs in the city — so much so that Montreal was almost as popular as New York City and Chicago. The Canadian city’s unofficial theme song during this time was “Hello Montreal!,” which sums up the feeling Americans had during the dry time.
“Nunavut” by Kronos Quartet and Tanya Tagaq
Tanya Tagaq provides a sensory experience when she’s throat singing — one of the world’s oldest forms of music. The Nunavut-born, Manitoba-based performer chants, growls and creates harmonies using only her body. She grew up in the Arctic village of Cambridge Bay and didn’t listen to throat singing when she was young, largely because the Catholic church banned it. This song takes listeners on a journey through Tagaq’s home and the history of her ancestors.
“St. John’s” by The Fables
The Fables are quickly becoming the sound of Newfoundland. The rock/Celtic band from St. John’s, Newfoundland, is led by former Irish Descendant D’Arcy Broderick and guitarist Glenn Simmons, formerly from the Wonderful Grand Band. The Fables have won several awards, including the East Coast Music Award for Entertainers of the Year.
“Let’s Talk New Brunswick!” by Glenn McFarlane
If you don’t know much about the history of New Brunswick, let Glenn McFarlane sing you some of its history in his song, “Let’s Talk New Brunswick!” Originally from the province, he now lives in Brampton, Ontario. This little ditty is the perfect mix of history and a fun folk sing-along.
“Farewell to Nova Scotia” by the Irish Rovers
This is a popular local folk song that is believed to have been written around the time of the First World War. In this version, the Irish Rovers sing the legendary song. The band is celebrating its 50th anniversary and has been a large part of Canadian culture — former Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau even personally asked the Irish immigrants to become Canadian citizens to officially represent Canada around the world.
“Forever Strong” by Mike Ross and Nicole Bellamy
Mike Ross and Nicole Bellamy won the 2014 Prince Edward Island song contest with this song. This song was selected from 79 entries and was performed at P.E.I.’s 2014 events to mark the 150th anniversary of the Charlottetown Conference. The married couple is originally from Charlottetown and now live in Toronto.
“Long Gone to the Yukon” by Stompin’ Tom Connors
Charles Thomas Connors (Stompin’ Tom) is one of the most iconic people in Canadian music. His country songs were funny, patriotic and popular songs about Canada’s people and places. In “Long Gone to the Yukon” he sings about the Klondike, canoeing and the northern lights — “’Cause I'm long gone to the Yukon. Those northern lights I want to see,” he sings in the chorus.
“Caribou song” by Ted Wesley
Ted Wesley’s latest album, I Remember ... Our Northern Heritage, captures the sights and sounds of Canada’s North. Wesley is a long-time Northerner who proudly lives in Yellowknife. Since he began his music career in 1967, he has sold more than 70,000 albums and once received a Juno nomination as Country Male Vocalist of the Year for his recording of his third album, Long Dusty Road.