“I’m on my way to Canada” Song Recording

Foran-Willis

Following from yesterday’s post, here is an audio clip of the song “I’m on my way to Canada,” performed by Tim Foran, John Willis, Judith Klassen and Simon Neufeld, and edited by Steve Levesque. Follow along with the song lyrics below!

IMG2014-0080-0001-DmIMG2014-0080-0002-Dm

“I’m on my way to Canada”

I’m on my way to Canada,
That cold and dreary land,
The dire effects of slavery
I can no longer stand.
My soul is vexed within me
To think that I’m a slave
And now resolved to strike the blow
For freedom or the grave.
Oh, Righteous Father, wilt thou pity me
And aid me on to Canada, where colored men are free.

I heard old Queen Victoria say
If we could all forsake
Our native land of slavery
And come across the lake,
That she was standing on the shore
With arms extended wide,
To give us all a peaceful home
Beyond the rolling tide.
Farewell old master, that’s enough for me,
I’m going straight to Canada, where coloured men are free.

I’ve served my master all my days
Without a dime’s reward,
But now I’m forced to run away
To flee the lash abhorred.
The hounds are baying on my track
The master just behind,
Resolved that he will bring me back
Before I cross the line.
Oh, old master, don’t come after me
I’m going up to Canada where coloured men are free.

Grieve not my wife,
Grieve not for me,
Oh, do not break my heart;
For naught but cruel slavery
Would cause me to depart
If I should stay to quell your grief,
Your grief I would augment,
For no one knows the day that we
Asunder may be rent.
Oh, Susannah, don’t you cry for me,
I’m going up to Canada where coloured men are free.

2 responses to ““I’m on my way to Canada” Song Recording”

  1. Jacinthe Caron says:

    Thank you for sharing the story in yesterday’s post and for this audio clip. I was certainly familiar with the tune (Oh, Susanna) and sang along. I was not familiar with these lyrics written by Simpson or with the origins of the song. Thanks for the interesting, informative and musical posts. It’s great that the Museum has acquired the handwritten text and that this important part of our history will be safeguarded by the Museum.

  2. Pamela L. Poulin, Johns Hopkns says:

    Thank you for the music clip & words. Although one might know the tune, it may be difficult to fit the words & this shows perfectly how to do this! Both Harriet Tubman (who helped family & friends to escape to St Catherines, Ontario, & Sojourner Truth sang this. I am 50% Canadian, family from Morpeth, Ontario, surveyor Leon Francis Poulin (b 1816) surveyed Hwy # 3, Talbot Road, Morpeth, home built 1840, Crown Grant to Francis Shoeburg (various spelling) serving in War of 1812, plot 87 (Poulin married Shoeburg’s daughter, Eleanor, who inherited 1/3 of plot).