Settler's Songs of the Pacific Northwest

by Katie Green and Karen Hefford

supported by
Asher Graieg-Morrison
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Asher Graieg-Morrison I love how Katie and Karen have brought history to life in a interesting and beautiful way. Favorite track: Prohibition Song.
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released June 2, 2017

All original arrangements by Katie Green and Karen Hefford

Songs taken from Philip Thomas' archive entitled "Songs of the Pacific Northwest." Ed. Jon Bartlett. 2nd ed. Surrey, BC: Hancock House, 2007. Print.

All photos taken from the Vancouver Archives



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Katie Green and Karen Hefford Vancouver, British Columbia

Katie Green and Karen Hefford are two musicians from Vancouver who combine classical and folk music influences. Their close-knit harmonies and varied instrumentation bring a fresh interpretation to traditional songs. ... more

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Track Name: Lured West
No thrush that e’re piped its sweet note from a thorn,
Was more lively than I or more free.
When lured by false colours in life’s blooming morn,
I tempted my fortune at sea.
While amidst each new scene of these maxims of old,
Upheld me when grief did oppress.
That a fair reputation is better than gold,
And courage will conquer distress.
Track Name: P.G.E. Song
Up in that far north country where the skies are always blue,
They’re waiting for the happy day when the PGE goes through.
Oh squawfish will be squaking and the moose will start to moo,
And the grizzly bears will grizzle when the PGE goes through.

Oh lord, I know my toil will end,
When I hear that whistle coming ‘round the bend

The hornets build their little nests up in the spruce and pine
They love to sting the axemen when they’re cutting out the line
So if the railroad bends a bit like railroads shouldn’t do
Just blame it on the hornets when the PGE goes through

When running line on snowshoes the snow got very deep
Old Abe Rickman he dug a hole, crawled in and went to sleep.
The snow blew in and covered him but we know what to do,
We’ll dig him out in springtime when the PGE goes through.
Track Name: Drill Ye Terriers
Every morning at 7 o’clock
You can hear a gang of terriers drilling in the rock;
The foreman yells, “now don’t stand still
Come down heavy on that god damn drill!”

Then it’s drill ye terriers drill,
Drill ye terriers drill,
For we work all day without sugar in our tea
When we work on the CP Railway,
So it’s drill ye terriers drill.

The boss sent us to drill a hole,
And he cursed and damned our Irish souls,
He cursed the ship that brought us through,
To work on the CP railway crew.

Our boarding-boss was from Cork’s own town,
And he married a widow a very far down.
She baked his bread and she baked it well,
And she baked it harder than the hobbs of hell.

D. McDonald’s our walking-boss,
And it’s him that kicks up the devil’s own fuss,
And if you ask him for some time,
He’ll send you further down the line.

Now all you teamsters you beware,
And of your horses take great care,
And when you do go to turn them round,
Don’t make them go over the dumping ground.
Track Name: Way Up In The Ucletaw
Come all you bull-necked loggers
And hear me sing my song,
For it is very short
And it will not keep you long.

We had blankets for to travel,
Biscuits for the chaw.
We were in search of pitchbacks,
Way up in the Ucletaw.

We’re leaving from Vancouver
With sorrow grief and woe,
And we’re heading up the country,
Bout a hundred miles or so.

We hired fourteen loggers,
And we hired a man to saw.
And we hired us a cook,
And he ran the hotcakes raw.
Track Name: The Grand Hotel
There’s a place in Vancouver you all know so well,
It’s a place where they keep rotgut whiskey to sell.
They also keep borders and keep’em like hell,
And the name of the place is the Grand Hotel.

In the Grand Hotel when the loggers come in,
It’s amusing to see the proprietor grin.
He knows they’ve got money, he’ll soon have it all;
“Come on boys have a drink!” you can hear Tommy call.

Oh the bartender laughs as the money rolls in;
They drink beer and whiskey, champagne, rum and gin,
Till they all get so boozy they can’t drink no more,
And the loggers lay scattered all over the floor.

In the morning the loggers wake up from their bed
Their money’s all gone and, Oh Lord, what a head!
They rush for the bar, and they call for a drink,
And Tommy get’s busy a-slinging the ink:

“Four bits for your bed though you slept on the floor,
And the breakfast you missed, that will be four bits more;
And a four-dollar meal-ticket, good at the bar,
And a pass back to camp on the old Cassiar.”
Track Name: Prohibition Song
Oh Jamie did you hear the news,
The news that’s spreading round?
They’re going to throw out all the rum
Upon the blooming ground.
And when we’re coming home from work
All thirsty, tired and late,
We’ll have to be content with tea
Or else cold water straight.

‘Tis goodbye now, Old Demijohn,
And goodbye, Little Brown Jug,
‘Tis goodbye, O Nutbown Ale,
That foams from the Schooner’s mug.
And goodbye Scotch, ‘twas first-rate stuff
That made us canty feel,
And made old folks feel young enough
To dance a rousing reel.

The brewers and hop-raisers then
Will all be hopping mad;
And oh the prohibitionists,
They will be whopping glad.
They say we’ll have fair weather then,
That B.C. will be dry,
From Nelson and Kelowna towns,
Far North to the Horsefly

‘Tis said that soon John Barleycorn
Will have no place to go.
He’ll have to mount the watercart
Or else go down below.
He’s had his day; he’ll have to go;
How can he longer stay?
So we must all give him a foot
To help him on his way.
Track Name: The Minto
Just over half a century since first I laid my keel,
Well I have had my aches and pains from stern to paddle wheel.
Just haul me out the ways again, whenever the time is due,
Just a couple of planks and a coat of paint will make me good as new.

I’ve seen the high and mighty and I know the rich and broke,
I know the trapper with his pelts, the miner and his poke,
I know the lusty logger what a roisting, boisterous crew,
Just a couple of planks and a coat of paint will make me good as new.

I know the river’s romance and I’ve tasted heaven and hell,
I think of all the bygone days and what my staterooms tell;
Who says I’m due for the boneyard? Not the captain or the crew,
Just a couple of planks and a coat of paint will make me good as new.
Track Name: Dorymen
Oh some can sit in their swivel chairs,
Midst the cities’ rush and rumour,
And fret o’er the cares of the world’s affairs
And the woes of the poor consumer.
But I don’t envy such gilded ease,
Just give the salt-soaked ocean breeze.
The lift and surge of the white-capped seas,
And the deck of a halibut schooner.

Yes, give me a packet that’s sound and tight
And a skipper with guts to boom her,
Up under the heel of the Northern Lights,
Where the grey seas strive to doom her.
Through the grinding ice, where the ground lines freeze,
Through the howling gales and the pounding seas –
For it’s in such tranquil spots as these,
You must drive with a halibut schooner.

And then, when our schooner is safe in port
And we land in a boisterous humor,
We thank the gods that our stay is short
And wish we were leaving sooner.
We’re rough and we’re coarse and we’re loud – What then?
We’re the salt of the earth; we’re dorymen –
And tomorrow night we’ll be off again
To the banks in a halibut schooner.
Track Name: Song of the Sockeye
Oh, hark to the song of the song of the sockeye
Like a siren’s call of old;
When it gets in your blood we can’t shake it:
It’s the same as the fever for gold.

There’s a hole in the BC coastline,
Rivers Inlet’s where I mean;
And it’s there you will find the old-timer
And also the fellow who’s green.

Now some of us think of the future,
While others choose to forget,
But most of us sit here and think of a school
Of sockeye hitting the net.

And when the season is over
And you figured out what you have made,
You were better off working for wages,
No matter how low you were paid.

For the comforts of home are worth something,
So take it from me, my friend;
Oh, frying-pan grub and no head room
Will ruin your health in the end.
Track Name: Sunset Waltz
Come shades of dead cowboys, once carefree young cowboys,
Dead ghosts of old comrades I rode with so long,
When life was before us, we rode oft in chorus –
Old ghosts, do you hear now, the lone wolf’s last song?

I’m an old high-heeled cowboy, an old has-been cowboy,
For long o’er the prairies I’ve roamed far and wide.
But my last campfire’s blazing, my old eyes fast glazing –
I rode my last bronco and rode my last ride.

My campfire is crowded with faces smoke shrouded,
But all are ghost faces of comrades I knew.
My turn’s come to die, ghosts, with no human by, ghosts
The gate is before me and soon I’ll pass through.

I’m a fast-sinking cowboy, a poor lonesome cowboy,
Who soon pass to judgment, his sins to atone.
When the gate swings behind me, may Christ’s mercy find me –
He knows it’s blame lonely, to die slow alone.
Track Name: The Great Peace River
There’s a river that is flowing up toward the northern sea;
It’s not famed in song or story, still it has a charm for me.
It has called me from the southlands where the starry banner blows,
And I’ve settled down forever where the great Peace River flows.

I’ve a little moss-chinked cabin just beyond its northern shore
Where I hope to live contented till this span of life is o’er.
May life’s care pass lightly o’er me, all its troubles and its woes
Be to me a fleeting memory where the great Peace River flows.

Where the great Peace River’s flowing, where the pretty bluebells grow,
And the prairies they are glowing with the beauties of the rose.
Where the sun is always shining, no-one sits down to repose,
And each cloud has silver lining where the great Peace River flows.
Track Name: Confederation Song
Come on boys, let’s sing a song
For the day it won’t be long,
When united to our country we will be;
Then the Maple Leaf entwined
And the beaver too combined
With old England’s flag shall float upon the sea.

Cheer, boys, cheer, for the “Dominion Nation,”
Glorious the race before her run;
Cheer, boys, cheer, for the confederation;
The fairest, free-est land under the sun.
Track Name: Know Ye The Land
Know ye the land where the bare rocks and old pines
Are emblems of deeds that are done in their clime?
Where the last hope of thousands, dissolved by the gold mines,
To many bring sorrow, drive others to crime.
‘Tis the land of adventurers gleaned from all nations –
English, French, Yankee, Italian and Jew –
Uncared for all former distinction and stations,
All find the same level who seek Cariboo.

‘Tis the land of the gambler, the thief and the debtor,
Of the storekeeper ruined through trusting to jaw
Where the sentence of Begbie loads those with a fetter
Whom he should hang in justice but cannot by law.
‘Tis the land of log cabins, bed rock, flumes and ditches,
Hydraulics and sluices, of tunnels and shafts,
Where in keen strife to accumulate riches,
All friendship’s forgotten and hardened all hearts.

‘Tis the land of false swearing, of cursing, blashpheming,
Where the sharper by poker and monte gained wealth.
Where he who is cute can live easy in scheming
While the miner’s soon bankrupt in pocket and health.
It is here that the Almighty Dollar is rated
A god in this Anglo-American land
Where the greatest of blackguards if lucky is feted,
While the poor man, though honest, may starve and be damned.

Know ye the land where the bare rocks and old pines
Are emblems of deeds that are done in their clime?
Where the last hope of thousands, dissolved by the gold mines,
To many bring sorrow, drive others to crime.
How happy I’ll be when I’m on board the steamer,
How joyful I cannot find language to tell,
When wishing each miner and loafer and schemer,
Cariboo and its horrors a final farewell.
Track Name: Lay Down Your Lines
Breathe deep the prayer; see rich the heritage;
Worthy the giver here can find a home,
In forest valleys, lakes and rivers,
Lay down your lines, by the West’s white foam.