10 Artists That Namecheck Canadian Towns and Cities

There are hundreds of songs about Los Angeles, New York, Chicago and London.  You can probably name songs that namecheck places like Paris and Tokyo.  Think hard enough and you’ll quote lyrics that involve Kansas City, Galveston and Phoenix.  

Whilst sitting in a bar during Canadian Music Week, someone at the table started a game with a simple premise: How many songs can you name that namecheck Canadian towns and cities?

1.  Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young, “Helpless”

Okay, so the “town in north Ontario” isn’t identified in the lyrics but when pushed in an interview years later, Neil seemed to admit that he was thinking largely of Omemee, which is just west of Peterborough.  Not exactly “north Ontario,” but we’ll take it.

 

2.  Stompin’ Tom Connors, “Sudbury Saturday Night

The only song in the history of the universe that rhymes “bingo” with “stinko.”

 

3.  Tragically Hip, “Bobcaygeon”

Two points for the Hip for mentioning both Bobcaygeon and Toronto in this song.

 

4.  Weakerthans, “One Great City”

Their ode to their hometown of Winnipeg.

 

5.  Guess Who, “Runnin’ Back to Saskatoon”

Not only is Saskatoon mentioned, but so is Moose Jaw, Moosomin, Red Deer, Terrace and Medicine Hat. 

 

6.  Violent Femmes, “Vancouver”

Not exactly a hit, but it qualifies for our list.

 

7.  Bon Iver, “Calgary”

Hey!  it’s on a Grammy-award winning album!  And the video’s been viewed 2.7 million times on YouTube!

 

8.  The Rural Aberta Advantage, Hometowns 

Not only does this album contain a song called “Edmonton,” but it also has songs featuring Lethbridge and Frank, Alberta.

 

9.  The Wedding Present, “Montreal”

There are dozens and dozens of songs about Montreal, I had plenty to choose from. 

 

10.  Flin Flon, A-OK

And now, the grand finale.  Flin Flon (also a town in Northern Manitoba) is Mark Robinson, the owner of the Washington DC-Based Teen Beat Records and a member of cult indie act Air Miami.  The A-OK album features nothing but the names of small towns across Canada:  Kamloops, Red Deer, Ukraina (a small town in Manitoba), Buffalo Narrows (Saskatchewan), Yellowknife. Moose Jaw, Odessa (Saskatchewan), Medicine Hat, Whitehorse and Colgate (Saskatchewan). 

Got any others for this list?

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 30+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

23 thoughts on “10 Artists That Namecheck Canadian Towns and Cities

  • March 24, 2012 at 12:32 am
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    half of the songs by The Dudes. But chiefly "Connected"… talking about how lame Winnipeg is and how awesome Victoria is.

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  • March 24, 2012 at 12:50 am
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    Winnipeg is in the title of every song on one of Venetian Snares' albums, as well as the album title itself. Ahem.

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  • March 24, 2012 at 12:53 am
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    Death Cab for cute – I will Follow you into the Dark; mentions Calgary

    Sam Roberts – An American Draft Dodger in Thunder Bay

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  • March 24, 2012 at 1:02 am
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    And how could we forget Stompin Tom's Tilsonburg

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  • March 24, 2012 at 1:31 am
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    City & Colour references Halifax in Comin' Home
    Sam Roberts mentions Montreal in Where Have All The Good People Gone
    Matt Mays' City of Lakes is about his hometown, Dartmouth, NS
    I'm sure Sloan mentions Halifax at some point..
    Joel Plaskett mentions Clayton Park (part of Halifax) in Drunk Teenagers

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  • March 24, 2012 at 1:40 am
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    Green Day – She's a Rebel references Toronto

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  • March 24, 2012 at 2:48 am
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    Rah Rah – Duet for Emmylou and the Grievous Angel. Talks about Regina, Saskatchewan.

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  • March 24, 2012 at 5:38 am
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    I taught my son Stompin Tom's Name The Capital which covers eleven cities. Can we include Wasaga Beach in Max Webster's "Research At Beach Resorts?"

    Reply
  • March 24, 2012 at 3:21 pm
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    Rockadrome's 1969 song, T.O. Town, is a favourite. Camera Obscura also made an unexpected "would freeze / like a river in Toronto" lyric reference with 2009's Forest and Sands.

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  • March 24, 2012 at 5:39 pm
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    Matt Good – "The Vancouver National Anthem"
    Tragically Hip – "Thompson Girl" (I assume Thompson MB)
    Barenaked Ladies make a reference to Lethbridge AB in "These Apples"

    Could consider Rush "YYZ" if you know airport codes…

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  • March 24, 2012 at 9:54 pm
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    Matthew Good Band – I Miss New Wave; "…gonna die in Coquitlam"

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  • March 24, 2012 at 10:51 pm
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    Blind Melon mention Pigeon Park and Hastings which are Vancouver references in "Dumptruck"

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  • March 24, 2012 at 10:56 pm
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    Carly Simon's "You're So Vain" (a huge hit) makes reference to going to Nova Scotia to see a total eclipse of the sun. Warren Beatty's mother was from Nova Scotia. Not a city, for sure, but still…

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  • March 24, 2012 at 11:02 pm
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    The Kings – This Beat Goes On/Switchin' to Glide

    "You said to ring you up if I was in Toronto"

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  • March 25, 2012 at 1:54 am
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    Gino Vannelli mentions Montreal in "I Just Wanna Stop"

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  • March 25, 2012 at 2:24 am
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    Martha and the Muffins. You Sold the Cottage. Key to Bala, Honey Harbour, Wasaga Beach, Lake of Bays…

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  • March 26, 2012 at 2:15 pm
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    Bon Iver has never been to Calgary, and is the biggest artist here now to name check with the biggest song (although Calgary isn't said in the lyrics) – and isn't Canadian. Which is the important part.

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  • March 2, 2013 at 6:13 pm
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    Neil Young seems to reminisce about his childhood in Winnipeg in the song Prairie Wind. "The Red River stills flows through my home town…"

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  • March 2, 2013 at 9:40 pm
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    "City of Lakes" by Matt Mays is about Dartmouth, NS.

    Also, are you sure the Violent Femmes aren't talking about the Vancouver in Washington State?

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  • March 3, 2013 at 3:07 am
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    Blues Traveler's "Canadian Rose" mentions Burlington and even includes a reference to Village Square.

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  • March 13, 2013 at 9:52 am
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    johnny cash mentions toronto in ive been everywhere, george thorogood also mentions toronto in a song i cant remember the title… theres that song they play on slap shot (a little bit south of saskatoon)… im pretty sure skinny puppy sings about the fraser river in vancouver i think it was the song shore lined poison… devin townsend sings about the canadian praries in a song i cant remember the title its on the album teria…

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  • July 2, 2013 at 3:11 am
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    "Hello CIty" by the Barenaked Ladies is about Halifax. The "harbour town" itself isn't named, but Barrington Street and local cabaret "The Palace" are name dropped.

    Stan Rogers also name drops Halifax in "Barrett's Privateers". He also mentions Sherbrooke, which is actually more likely the little town in Nova Scotia, not the larger town outside Montreal.

    SB

    Reply
  • July 17, 2013 at 8:44 am
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    Trey Songz – "Say Aah" (Toronto, and the Maple Leafs)

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