Were you aware that most of the Canadian provinces have their own anthems? If not, don’t worry. I wasn’t aware of this little fact, either, until I read this article in the National Post.
The article reviews each of the available provincial anthems and then chooses which one they like best (spoiler: It’s Quebec’s). I thought it would be fun to listen to the provincial anthems and write my own reviews for each.
British Columbia — “Go, British Columbia”
Unfortunately, I couldn’t find any recording of this anthem. However, I did find out that it was written for BC’s centennial in 1971 and a man named Bobby Gimby was approached to compose it. Gimby had a successful career with CBC Radio and Television, including his own show. Yet, although the song was apparently successful, many people hated it.
According to bcsheetmusic.ca:
“Mrs. Norma Heyd of Tofino expressed outrage at the Committee paying Gimby over $10,000 to write this song. Others wrote to the Committee complaining the song would make an excellent soap commercial, the song should have been written by a native British Columbian, that Serge Plotnikoff’s song was better, and the chorus consisted of nothing but La la la la”.
I wish I could find a recording of this song because it sounds hilariously amazing.
Alberta — “Alberta”
The National Post article pretends that “Four Strong Winds” is Alberta’s official anthem (it has long been called the “unofficial” song of Alberta) because the real one has mostly been wiped away from the internet. I’m going to go with the song written in 2005 for Alberta’s centennial. True, this is a bit of an obscure video, but the audio is there and of course it’s a country song. The public apparently greatly disliked this song, just look at the YouTube comments for proof, and as a non-Albertan, I don’t blame them.
Saskatchewan — No Anthem
Manitoba — No Anthem
Ontario — “A Place to Stand”
National Post has the new, updated version, but I’m giving you the original. Why? Because I love all its peppy cheesiness. I can’t get enough of it. The original is just so much more optimistic and fun-sounding than our updated version. To be fair, the new version by indie band Ginger Ale and the Monowhales is well done and sounds more modern, it just lacks the energy of the original.
Quebec — “Gens du pays”
Written by folk singer Gilles Vigneault, “Gens du pays” became synonymous with Quebec nationalism. It sounds like a love song and it basically is a little love song to Quebec. There’s really not much more to it than that.
New Brunswick — No Anthem, but “St. Anne’s Reel” could be considered
New Brunswick is looking for a musical identity, and while they don’t have an official anthem, a CBC story suggests the popular fiddle song “St. Anne’s Reel”. It’s fun, upbeat, and there’s no lyrics to remember.
Nova Scotia — “Farewell to Nova Scotia”
The song seems to originate from around the First World War and the lyrics suggest that the narrator is a soldier being sent overseas. It’s a patriotic and emotional song.
Prince Edward Island — “Island Hymn”
Prince Edward Island: Home of potatoes and Anne of Green Gables. I’ve heard it’s a beautiful place to visit. Of course “Island Hymn” was written by Lucy Maud Montgomery, author of everyone’s favourite PEI ginger. It sounds very much like a church hymn with its simple melodic structure. It’s quite lovely.
Newfoundland and Labrador — “Ode to Newfoundland”
This anthem existed prior to Newfoundland joining Canada. It was written by Sir Charles Cavendish Boyle during his short tenure as Colonial General of Newfoundland between 1901 to 1904. It sounds very much like a church hymn.
Territories — No Anthems
Where the National Post likes Quebec’s “Gens du pays” the best, I’m going to have to go with Ontario’s “A Place to Stand”. I seriously can’t get enough of the 1967 version.