MacDonnell On The Heights by Stan Rogers

Too thin the line that charged the Heights
And scrambled in the clay.
Too thin the Eastern Township Scot
Who showed them all the way,
And perhaps had you not fallen,
You might be what Brock became
But not one in ten thousand knows your name.

To say the name, MacDonnell,
It would bring no bugle call
But the Redcoats stayed beside you
When they saw the General fall.
Twas MacDonnell raised the banner then
And set the Heights aflame,
But not one in ten thousand knows your name.

You brought the field all standing with your courage and your luck
But unknown to most, you’re lying there beside old General Brock.
So you know what it is to scale the Heights and fall just short of fame
And have not one in ten thousand know your name.

At Queenston now, the General on his tower stands alone
And there’s lichen on ‘MacDonnell’ carved upon that weathered stone
In a corner of the monument to glory you could claim,
But not one in ten thousand knows your name.

You brought the field all standing with your courage and your luck
But unknown to most, you’re lying there beside old General Brock.
So you know what it is to scale the Heights and fall just short of fame
And have not one in ten thousand know your name.

Written and recorded by Stan Rogers. Copyright Fogarty’s Cove Music 

N.B. Although written in the song as MacDonnell, the correct spelling is John Macdonell.

Signor Farini by Ian Bell

“The Great Farini” walking on his tightrope, 1860

High overhead at the peak of the barn,
A ragged tin rooster is raising the dawn;
Along with the creature of curious grace,
Who takes his position and rests in his place,
And then with the slightest of smiles on his face,
He raises a foot and steps off into space.

Chorus:

Oh for an ounce of the courage I lack,
Oh for the feel of the wind at my back,
Oh for a tongue to cry passion and fire,
Signor Farini is walking the wire
Farini so high on the wire

The Great Farini walking the tightrope, 1860

Walking on air with the greatest of ease,
A tangle of barn swallows sharing the breeze.
Down from the lightning rod out to the tree,
Quick pirouttes and a bow from the knee.
Don’t breathe a word of the things that you see,
Nobody knows him like you and like me

Chorus

Better to follow the long straight path,
Better to walk than to fly,
This field is too narrow to cut a wide swath,
Better to look to your feet than the sky,
Better look to your feet not the sky
Not the sky.

Up on the wire can you still smell the ground?
High, up so high can you still hear the sound
That comes from the people who all look so small,
Searching the sky with their backs to the wall
Hands in their pockets and necks craned so tall,
Patiently waiting to see if you fall?

Signor Farini stunting on the tightrope at Niagara Falls, 1860

Chorus

Source: Ian Bell and The Dawnbreakers. Signor Farini and Other Adventures, Paris, Ont.: Free Range Recordings, ©2000.

The Dawnbreakers are: Kate Murphy, Brian Pickell, Geoff Somers, with Dave Zdriluk and Anne Lederman

Click here to hear Ian Bell and The Dawnbreakers singing Signor Farini

Click here to contact Ian Bell to purchase the CD Signor Farini and Other Adventures

Images courtesy of Niagara Falls Public Library’s Historic Niagara Digital Collections

Niagara Falls by Anonymous

(Song of the year, 1841)

Oh the lovers come a thousand miles,
They leave their home and mother;
Yet when they reach Niagara Falls
They only see each other.

See Niagara's waters rolling,
See the misty spray;
See the happy lovers strolling,
It's everybody's wedding day.

To see the Falls they took a ride
On the steamship "Maid O' the Mist";
She forgot the Falls she was so busy
Being hugged and kissed.

See the mighty river rushing
'Tween its rocky walls;
See the happy lovers strolling
By our Niagara Falls.

He said, "Is oo my darling?"
He said, "Whose darling is oo?"
He said, "Is oo my baby?"
And she always answered, "Goo-goo-goo."

Source: Dwight Whalen. Lover’s Guide to Niagara Falls. Niagara Falls: Horseshoe Press, 1990.

A Ballad of the Caroline by Anonymous

Sung to the tune of Yankee Doodle Dandy

When first Mackenzie’s rebel band
Was beat at Gallows Hill, sir,
To Buffalo they did retreat
And said we used him ill, sir.

CHORUS:

Yankee-doodle, boys, huzzah,
Down, outside, and up the middle;
Yankee-doodle, boys, huzzah,
Trumpet, drum and fiddle.

The Buffalonians sympathized
And kicked up such a roar, sir,
And kicked up such a windy noise
It reached the British shore, sir.

The steamer, bound for Navy Isle,
Left Buffalo one morning
For to assist Mackenzie’s band,
Britannia’s thunder scorning.

But when the lion shook his mane,
And looked a little grim, sir,
He said ’twas not a Texas game
That they could play with him, sir.

A party left the British shore,
Led on by gallant Drew, sir,
To set the Caroline on fire,
And beat her pirate crew, sir.

The Yankees say they did invent
The steamboat first of all, sir;
But Britons taught their Yankee boats
To navigate the Falls, sir.

The spirit of our Wolfe and Brock
Doth still around us hover,
And still we stand on Queenston’s rock
To drive the Yankees over.

No slave shall ever breathe our air,
No tyrant’s laws shall bind us,
So keep your Yankee mob at home
For Britons still you’ll find us.

Source: Kevin McCabe, ed. The Poetry of Old Niagara. St. Catharines, Ont. : Blarney Stone Books, 1999.

Originally published: Jubilee History of Thorold, Township and Town, Thorold, 1897-8

The burning Steamer Caroline went over the Horseshoe Falls on the night of December 29, 1837

 

Images courtesy of the Niagara Falls Public Library’s   digital collection – the Historic Niagara Digital Collection

Artist’s sketch of the Steamer Caroline on Fire at the brink of the Horseshoe Falls

 

Artist’s sketch of the Steamer Caroline on Fire at the brink of the Horseshoe Falls