Ode to a Bytown Youth by J. A. Murphy

“Enshrined in the records of Canadian achievement a century ago, is the fascinating and thrilling story of a daring feat performed at Brock’s monument on Queenston Heights by a young Bytonian — Matthew Murphy, father of Mr. J.A. Murphy of 412 McLeod Street. Mr. Murphy has penned the following lines relating to the historic incident but fuller details will be found in a story elsewhere on this page.” Ottawa Citizen, December 17, 1938

S.E. View of Brock’s Monument on Queenston Heights as it appeared May 9, A.D.1841
“S.E. View of Brock’s Monument on Queenston Heights as it appeared May 9, A.D.1841”
              I
Well nigh a century ago, Beside Niagara's river, On Queenston Heights was struck a blow Brock's monument to shiver.
A dastard alien's coward hand Had piled within its bottle A quarter hundred powder bags The tower to o'ertopple.
When fired, the blast was strong enough The wooden stair to shatter, Mortar and stone proved all too tough, For such a piffling matter.
As angry embryo nation rose To right the wrong intended, From town and country, copse and close, Their various ways they wended.
Not trains nor aeroplanes, nor cars Conveyed these sturdy yeomen. None carried arms though some bore scars, But all were worthy foemen.
They rode, they ran, they sailed, they swam O'er trails through swamps, wet, dreary; Berries and leaves their stomachs cram, Footsore they were, and weary.
From nearby hills and dales they come, From broad Ontario's beaches, Where'er a spark or loyal flame Gave urge to man the breaches.
Another such determined host Not all our land could muster They frightened rebels from our coast And quelled the Yankee bluster.
Continue reading "Ode to a Bytown Youth by J. A. Murphy"

Long Live the All Day Breakfast Diner by Bartholomew Bakelaar

Interior of the Hi-Lite Restaurant in Niagara Falls
Interior of the Hi-Lite Restaurant in Niagara Falls

Long live the All Day Breakfast diner
that makes this world of rainy days finer! —
The coffee cup, the stirring spoon
mixing sugar & cream, first sip soon
And then– all things better —
no matter the weather, a blessing or a curse
beautiful or ugly, its all the same universe.
The constant hustle streams by on sidewalk while
the serene sips inside produce an effortless smile
We owe it to ourselves
to put the tools down for a minute
& turn our backs on the machine, forget it.

Bartholomew Bakelaar by Nichole Bakelaar
Bartholomew Bakelaar by Nichole Bakelaar

Sip a coffee in a booth, forget seeking truth,
fall silent in peace, let it all be.
Have a second, third , a fourth cup of coffee
there’s no hurry, nowhere to go, nowhere to be.
The galaxy wheels overhead in perfect harmony
with all there is, even as you sit
enjoying yr own company
at the All Day Breakfast diner, tell me
what could be finer?

Source: The Author, 2017

Queen of the Mist by John Joseph O’Regan

Annie Edson Taylor, Queen of the Mist, with her barrel and her cat. Photo courtesy of Niagara Falls Public Library
Annie Edson Taylor, Queen of the Mist, with her barrel and her cat. Photo courtesy of Niagara Falls Public Library
All hail to the Queen of the Mist,
     Brave Anna Edson Taylor;
She has beaten all former records,
     By her courage, grit and valor.

This great heroine of our nation,
     Has won both fortune and fame;
Now people all over creation,
     Will praise this illustrious dame.

On the twenty-fourth day of October,
     In the year ninteen hundred and one;
The Queen of the Mist in a barrel,
     The risk of her life did run.

Over the wonderful Horseshoe Falls,
     Where the waters roar like thunder;
The barrel leaped within sight of all,
     With our intrepid lady wonder.

Annie Taylor being assisted out of the barrel after going over Niagara Falls. Left is stunter Carlisle Graham, right is riverman Red Hill.  Photo courtesy <a href=
Niagara Falls Public Library” width=”285″ height=”300″ class=”size-medium wp-image-822″ /> Annie Taylor being assisted out of the barrel after going over Niagara Falls. Left is stunter Carlisle Graham , right is riverman Red Hill. Photo courtesy Niagara Falls Public Library

Down through the surging, foaming deep,
     She came in her barrel of oak;
The crowd with rapturous cheers did leap,
     When she was taken out and spoke.

This brave woman, who knows no deception,
     Did what no one did before;
And was given a hearty reception,
     When she landed safe on shore.

Here’s to the Lady of the Cataract,
     Who has Spartan grit and valor;
Thrice, all hail, Queen of the Mist,
     Brave Anna Edson Taylor.

She has beaten the world’s record,
     Her praises we will sing;
Although a little disfigured,
     She is certainly still in the ring.

Niagara Gazette. October 26, 1901.

Source: Whalen, Dwight. The Lady Who Conquered Niagara: The Annie Edson Taylor Story. Brewer, Maine: EGA Books, 1990.

Learn more about Annie Edson Taylor

Niagara by Wilson MacDonald

portrait of Wilson Pugsley MacDonald
Wilson Pugsley MacDonald

Thy mother, Erie, loves each furious form:
The crash of water and the howl of wind
Are ever in her mind,
For she is called the sweetheart of the storm.
And thou, Niagara, art thy mother’s child —
And with thy restless spirit now I go
The world’s most tragic water-way, and lo!
Like thee to narrow ways unreconciled.

And yet thine early childhood was serene
And fraught with blackened quays and humble craft,
And often thou had’st glimpses of pure green
Where tourists sang and laughed;
But soon thy mother’s whisper bade thee rise
And hurl thy laggard body toward the skies —
And thou did’st then forget
All else save wildness and the haste of life,
And that far, roaring, curving parapet
That called thee to its strife
And then thy feet the maddest race began
That ever waters ran —
Madder than oceans in their wildest hour,
And moving without plan,
Even as chaos ere the worlds began.

Plaque honouring Wilson Pugsley MacDonald
Plaque honouring Wilson Pugsley MacDonald

If all the mountain snows
Could melt into the beauty of one rose,
That ermine bloom would not more lovely be
Than this pale flower I see —
This curving verdure, crashing into white
More lovely than pure light
And colder than the spirit of the night.

Here all the fury since the world was young
Is chanted on one tongue.
Here all the beauty since the earth was born
Is beaten, bruised and torn.
Here all the passions of the stifled cries
Of sages, who were martyred, wildly rise.
Here is the protest in the daring art
Of all true poets of the rebel-heart.
Continue reading “Niagara by Wilson MacDonald”

Nymph of Niagara by Samuel Lover

A Nymph of the Waves performed by Cathrina Bartho. Click for more information on this video from the Library of Congress

Nymph of Niagara!     Sprite of the mist!
With a wild magic my brow thou hast kissed;
I am thy slave, and my mistress art thou,
For thy wild kiss of magic is still on my brow.

I feel it as first when I knelt before thee,
With thy emerald robe flowing brightly and free,
Fringed with the spray-pearls and floating in mist,
Thus t was my brow with wild magic you kissed.

Thine am I still, and Ill never forget
The moment the spell on my spirit was set;
Thy chain but a foam-wreath, yet stronger by far
Than the manacle, steel-wrought, for captive of war.

For the steel it will rust, and the war will be oer,
And the manacled captives be free as before;
While the foam-wreath will bind me forever to thee;
I love the enslavement and would not be free!

Nymph of Niagara! play with the breeze,
Sport with the fawns mid the old forest trees;
Blush into rainbows at kiss of the sun,
From the gleam of his dawn till his bright course be run.

Ill not be jealous, for pure is thy sporting,
Heaven-born is all that around thee is courting;
Still will I love thee, sweet Sprite of the mist,
At first when my brow with wild magic you kissed!

Source: Myron T. Pritchard, comp. Poetry of Niagara. Boston: Lothrop Publishing, 1901.

Written on a tour of North America between 1846 – 1848

More about Samuel Lover