The Maple Leaf Forever

The Maple Leaf Forever is a Canadian song written by Alexander Muir (1830–1906) in 1867, the year of Canada’s Confederation. He wrote the work after serving with the Queen’s Own Rifles of Toronto in the Battle of Ridgeway against the Fenians in 1866.

In Days of yore,
From Britain’s shore
Wolfe the dauntless hero came
And planted firm Britannia’s flag
On Canada’s fair domain.
Here may it wave,
Our boast, our pride
And joined in love together,
The thistle, shamrock, rose entwined,
The Maple Leaf Forever.

 

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Muir’s words while certainly pro-British, were not anti-French, As he was attempting to express that under the Union Flag the British and French were united as Canadians, he revised the lyrics of the first verse by adding "Lily", a French symbol:

In days of yore, from Britain’s shore,
Wolfe, the dauntless hero, came
And planted firm Britannia’s flag
On Canada’s fair domain.
Here may it wave, our boast, our pride,
And join in love together
The Lily, Thistle, Shamrock, Rose,
The Maple Leaf forever.

According to other accounts, this was actually the original wording.

The song became quite popular in English Canada and for many years served as an unofficial national anthem.Because of its strongly British perspective it became unpopular amongst French Canadians, and this prevented it from ever becoming an official anthem, even though it was seriously considered for that role and was even used as a de facto anthem in many instances.

CBC Radio’s Metro Morning show in Toronto ran a contest to find new lyrics for the song in 1997. The contest was won by Romanian immigrant, mathematician, and now a songwriter, actor and poet, Vladimir Radian, who came to Canada in the 1980s.

The new version removed references to British colonialism and the Union Flag, added a reference to Quebec’s provincial symbol, the fleur-de-lis, and included a verse and refrain in French.

O, land of blue unending skies,
Mountains strong and sparkling snow,
A scent of freedom in the wind,
O’er the emerald fields below.
To thee we brought our hopes, our dreams,
For thee we stand together,
Our land of peace, where proudly flies,
The Maple Leaf forever.

Padre G.E. Benton, a former Canadian army chaplain, also wrote a revised version with the lyrics:

In days of yore from splendid shores,
Bold and true, our founders came,
And planted firm those rights of old,
Into Canada’s fair domain,
This hallowed oath and legacy,
We vow to yield it never!,
For life and peace and liberty,
The Maple Leaf Forever.

During the final game of the Toronto Maple Leafs at their former home stadium, Maple Leaf Gardens in Toronto, Anne Murray sang another version (modified from Radian’s version) of the Maple Leaf Forever to the crowd. This version was also used by Michael Bublé during the 2010 Winter Olympics closing ceremony.

 

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