Farewell to Nova Scotia

Here we have one of the most quintessentially Canadian singers (‘tho not one who is normally associated with traditional folk songs) singing one of the most quintessentially Canadian folk songs. This is a very young Gordon Lightfoot, in 1972, singing ‘Farewell to Nova Scotia’.

Edith Fowke gives the following information about this song in ‘The Penguin Book of Canadian Folk Songs’:

Helen Creighton collected it in the 1930s from half a dozen singers in the Petpeswick and Chezzetcook districts, some twenty-five miles east of Halifax: they told her that it was formerly sung in the schools. Mrs Carrie Grover learned it when she was a little girl in Nova Scotia as Adieu to Nova Scotia, and Marius Barbeau found another version in Beauce County, Quebec, as On the Banks of Jedddore... The tune is similar to one Cecil Sharp gives for The Lowlands Low.

Mudcat Café has a good thread about the song, and its possible Scottish antecedents, here.

Gordon Lightfoot is so well known as to really need no introduction, but if anyone wants to learn more about him, his website is here.

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Published by

Tim Chesterton

Family man; pastor of St. Margaret's Anglican Church on Ellerslie Road, Edmonton; storyteller; traditional folk musician and occasional songwriter. Email me at timchesterton at outlook dot com.

One thought on “Farewell to Nova Scotia”

  1. There are many “farewell to” songs in all parts of the UK and Ireland, dating back to the clearances, the Irish Famine and, even earlier, the deportation of English convicts to America. I find it rather beautiful that a song that was most likely sang by Nova Scotians because they were sad about leaving Scotland turned into a song about feeling sad about leaving Nove Scotia. I’m glad that the Scottish immigrants to Nova Scotia eventually found happiness and a true sense of belonging in their somewhat enforced new home.

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