"Canadian Railroad Trilogy" as written by and Gordon Lightfoot....
There was a time in this fair land when the railroad did not run
When the wild majestic mountains stood alone against the sun
Long before the white man and long before the wheel
When the green dark forest was too silent to be real

But time has no beginnings and hist'ry has no bounds
As to this verdant country they came from all around
They sailed upon her waterways and they walked the forests tall
Built the mines the mills and the factories for the good of us all

And when the young man's fancy was turnin' to the spring
The railroad men grew restless for to hear the hammers ring
Their minds were overflowing with the visions of their day
And many a fortune lost and won and many a debt to pay

For they looked in the future and what did they see
They saw an iron road runnin' from sea to the sea
Bringin' the goods to a young growin' land
All up through the seaports and into their hands

Look away said they across this mighty land
From the eastern shore to the western strand
Bring in the workers and bring up the rails
We gotta lay down the tracks and tear up the trails
Open 'er heart let the life blood flow
Gotta get on our way 'cause we're movin' too slow

Bring in the workers and bring up the rails
We're gonna lay down the tracks and tear up the trails
Open 'er heart let the life blood flow
Gotta get on our way 'cause we're movin' too slow
Get on our way 'cause we're movin' too slow

Behind the blue Rockies the sun is declinin'
The stars, they come stealin' at the close of the day
Across the wide prairie our loved ones lie sleeping
Beyond the dark oceans in a place far away

We are the navvies who work upon the railway
Swingin' our hammers in the bright blazin' sun
Livin' on stew and drinkin' bad whiskey
Bendin' our old backs 'til the long days are done

We are the navvies who work upon the railway
Swingin' our hammers in the bright blazin' sun
Layin' down track and buildin' the bridges
Bendin' our old backs 'til the railroad is done

So over the mountains and over the plains
Into the muskeg and into the rain
Up the St. Lawrence all the way to Gaspe
Swingin' our hammers and drawin' our pay
Drivin' 'em in and tyin' 'em down
Away to the bunkhouse and into the town
A dollar a day and a place for my head
A drink to the livin' and a toast to the dead

Oh the song of the future has been sung
All the battles have been won
O'er the mountain tops we stand
All the world at our command
We have opened up the soil
With our teardrops and our toil

For there was a time in this fair land when the railroad did not run
When the wild majestic mountains stood alone against the sun
Long before the white man and long before the wheel
When the green dark forest was too silent to be real
When the green dark forest was too silent to be real
And many are the dead men too silent to be real


Lyrics submitted by Irishred516

"Canadian Railroad Trilogy" as written by Gordon Lightfoot

Lyrics © Warner/Chappell Music, Inc.

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Canadian Railroad Trilogy song meanings
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6 Comments

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  • +1
    General CommentThis song should be Canada's second national anthem.

    Seriously, I can't believe only one other person has commented about this song. To me, living in America but having strong Canadian roots, this is like Canada saying, "Hey, I may not be America, but I've done some pretty f**king great things in my life too. Look at what we've gained, and look what we've given up for it."

    I don't think anyone will ever write a song quite like this again.
    NorthWriteron August 16, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThis song is about progress, and the cost of it, using the trans-canadian railroad as the basis for comparison.
    sammyblueon June 20, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General CommentWell, this song is definately about building railroads in Canada and my impression is that it's a tribute to the people who helped build the railroad. The one line "open her heart, let her lifeblood flow" sounds like he's saying that by using the earth's resources to bring life they're kind of paying tribute to her in a way. I mean what's the point of all the metals and foodstuffs if it just sits there? That's the sort of thing this makes me think of.
    briguy27on November 02, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General Commentgordon is one of the greats
    oilyon July 01, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General CommentSimply a romantic portayal of the dreams and labors of all who built the Canadian Pacific.
    sanchomurphy1on December 10, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General CommentIt was actually commissioned by the CBC to commemorate Canada's centennial.
    rb3868on June 10, 2013   Link

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