The Songs and Stories of Canada

A CD-ROM for use in Canadian Social Studies classes.

Canadian Social History

Canada’s traditional songs tell stories.

album cover of The Songs and Stories of CanadaLike folklore everywhere, the songs flourish in adversity, whether natural or cultural. For every grasshopper plague, drought, blizzard or flood, for every broken limb, war, depression or strike, there’s a song. Songs were a way of dealing with the hard times, and the stories they tell are the history of Canada. So too are the happier songs, of love and romance, or of landing an extra full net or taking off a bumper crop. All these experiences are yours when you listen to this series; not only that, you and your students can learn the songs, too.

The Songs and Stories of Canada is a series of sixteen half-hour audio presentations (in select and play MP3 format) with about five songs each, drama, stories and sound effects. The presentations are grouped around occupational themes (logging, mining, fishing, transportation, homesteading), geographic themes (Quebec, the Atlantic Provinces, the Prairies, BC), historical themes (e.g. the fur trade, settlement, the gold rushes), and musical themes (folk instruments, the transmission of songs). In song-teaching sections for each presentation, Jon and Rika, the hosts and singers, teach the students directly. Included on the CD is a 125-page teacher’s guide (in PDF format) with a chapter for each presentation, words and music for 50 of the 83 songs, background information on the theme of each presentation as well as lesson ideas and discussion topics.


Moving West – early exploration of the west during the fur trade, building the CPR and subsequent settlement of the Prairies.

Saltchuch and Asphalt– transportation past and present, mainly in British Columbia—truckdriving, freight wagons and teams of horses on the Cariboo Road, railways and tugboats.

The Homesteaders – lives of settlers on the prairies in the early years of the twentieth century—living in sod homes, fighting off mosquitoes, grasshoppers, gophers, duststorms, hailstorms, drought and loneliness.

The Parish Hall Dance – gives examples of the role of folk music – particularly singing – in social situations from Newfoundland to British Columbia.

The Immigrants – a collection of immigrant songs in English and French. The groups covered are the Scottish (Cape Breton), French (Quebec), British (British Columbia) and Irish.

Fishing East and West – fishing for cod off the Grand Banks of Newfoundland, whaling off Greenland and fishing for salmon and halibut off the BC coast.

The Rush for Gold – the three major gold rushes of western Canada—the Fraser River gold rush of 1858, the Cariboo gold rush of the early 1860’s, and the Klondike gold rush of 1898.

Songs of the Deep Sea Sailors – the lives of sailors who worked on the tall sailing ships of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.

The Lumbering Woods – the way of life of the loggers who worked in the lumber camps of eastern Canada.

Logging in the West – the way of life of the loggers who worked in the lumber camps of British Columbia.

Songs of the Miners – the miners who worked in the hard rock mines of British Columbia and the coal mines of Cape Breton.

Folk Instruments – some of the instruments used in traditional Canadian folk music over the past 150 years—especially the button accordion, the fiddle and the concertina.

The Kangaroos of Nova Scotia – how songs are passed on and the changes they undergo in the process.

The Atlantic Provinces – draws together in song common themes in the Atlantic provinces—lumbering, fishing, Acadian songs in French and songs from the descendants of Scottish immigrants in Nova Scotia.

Songs and Stories of Quebec – the life and history of Quebec—the fur trade, logging, farming, fiddle-playing and story-telling.

Songs of the Land – the struggle for survival in “the North”.

CD in MP3 and PDF formats: by Jon Bartlett & Rika Ruebsaat

This series ties into PLO’s for:

Social Studies – grades 2 – 11
Language Arts – grades 2 – 5
Music grades – 2 – 7

Price: $25, ($28 with shipping)

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