The Most Canadian Song of All Time

Image result for The Log Driver's Waltz

Yes! Onliners have declared it: The Log Driver’s Waltz is the most Canadian song of all time (excluding Oh, Canada)!  The Log Driver’s Waltz is a Canadian folk song written by Canadian song-writer Wade Hemsworth (1916-2002). It celebrates the practice of log driving down the rivers in the lumbering industry, whereby the men’s movements resemble intricate dance steps.

The word in the chorus is often mis-heard as whirling or twirling, when it is actually, “For he goes birling down, a-down white water…”.  “Birl” is an old Scots verb meaning “to revolve or cause to revolve”, and in modern English means “to cause a floating log to rotate by treading”. Today, birling survives as a competitive sport. (Source: Wikipedia)

As an enduring classic of Canadian music the most famous version is probably by Kate and Anna McGarrigle and the Mountain City Four, which was used as the soundtrack for the 1979 animated short film by the National Film Board of Canada, as part of their Canada Vignettes program.

Another very famous version is by Alberta-based band Captain Tractor, a popular “rock Celtic” hit in the late 1990’s.

Those of you who are not familiar with the melody, and would like a sample of sheet music to help you learn the melody or play it out on a piano or other instrument, try this:

I do not have Word or even a pdf reader such as Adobe on the computer I am currently composing this posting on, yet this document opened up easily for me and printed with no problems at all. I got it from this website posting:;ttLOGDRIVR.html

Image result for Wade HemsworthHemsworth made two recordings. His first LP, Folk Songs of the Canadian North Woods (1955, Folk FP 821), includes his ‘The Black Fly Song’ and ‘The Shining Birch Tree.’ He recorded one CD, The Songs of Wade Hemsworth, (Blackfly Music) in 1995.

For more information regarding Wade Hemsworth try searching his full name at the Canadian Encyclopedia dot com. I have not been able to determine what year he composed this song in, nor when he recorded it. So if anyone reading this happens to discover this information I would be really grateful if you could let me know in the comments. Thank you.

Image result for Wade Hemsworth

Here is the ukulele version of lyrics and chords from the Bytown Ukulele Group, the BUG’s:





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