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Gordon Lightfoot - Canadian Railroad Trilogy
If you haven't heard this song before, give your head a shake! This classic song is as much a part of our nation's history as maple syrup and street hockey.

I often put this song on after a discussion about the railroad and have the students "teach me". Have them find 10 different facts about the CPR construction that they have learned from hearing this song.

A helpful hint: use the version of this song from "Complete Greatest Hits" rather than other versions. It's faster and kids respond better to it.

Gordon Lightfoot
From the album ‘Complete Greatest Hits’ – Rhino / Wea

There was a time in this fair land when the railroad did not run
When the wild majestic mountains stood alone against the sun
Long before the white man and long before the wheel
When the green dark forest was too silent to be real
But time has no beginnings and hist’ry has no bounds
As to this verdant country they came from all around
They sailed upon her waterways and they walked the forests tall
And they built the mines the mills and the factories for the good of us all

And when the young man’s fancy was turnin’ to the spring
The railroad men grew restless for to hear the hammers ring
Their minds were overflowing with the visions of their day
And many a fortune lost and won and many a debt to pay

For they looked in the future and what did they see
They saw an iron road runnin’ from sea to the sea
Bringin’ the goods to a young growin’ land
All up through the seaports and into their hands

Look away said they across this mighty land from the eastern shore to the western strand
Bring in the workers and bring up the rails, we gotta lay down the tracks and tear up the trails
Open ’er heart let the life blood flow, gotta get on our way ’cause we’re movin’ too slow

Behind the blue Rockies the sun is declinin’
The stars, they come stealin’ at the close of the day
Across the wide prairie our loved ones lie sleeping
Beyond the dark oceans in a place far away

We are the navvies who work upon the railway
Swingin’ our hammers in the bright blazin’ sun
Livin’ on stew and drinkin’ bad whiskey
Bendin’ our old backs ’til the long days are done

We are the navvies who work upon the railway
Swingin’ our hammers in the bright blazin’ sun
Layin’ down track and buildin’ the bridges
Bendin’ our old backs ’til the railroad is done

So over the mountains and over the plains
Into the muskeg and into the rain
Up the St. Lawrence all the way to Gaspe
Swingin’ our hammers and drawin’ our pay
Drivin’ ’em in and tyin’ ’em down
Away to the bunkhouse and into the town
A dollar a day and a place for my head
A drink to the livin’ and a toast to the dead

Oh the song of the future has been sung, all the battles have been won
O’er the mountain tops we stand, all the world at our command
We have opened up the soil, with our teardrops and our toil

When the green dark forest was too silent to be real
And many are the dead men too silent to be real