The best songs by Canadians about Canada, from sea to sea to sea.
Best Canadian songs by Canadians about Canada
Our country has long punched above its weight when it comes to music, be it The Weeknd and Drake, Bieber and Bublé or Neil Young and Shania Twain. Canadian songs provide a soundtrack for the entire world, albeit a world that we can’t currently visit due to the pandemic.
Canada is not just a confederation of places, but also a collection of events and stories. For those in eastern Ontario, southern Quebec and Nova Scotia who experienced the Great Ice Storm of 1998, it became a defining moment in their lives, but for each in a unique way. “Power Out,” Arcade Fire's third song in their “Neighborhood” series — following "Neighborhood #1 (Tunnels)" and "Neighborhood #2 (Laïka)," which was named after the late, lamented Plateau lounge — was inspired by co-bandleader Régine Chassagne’s experiences during that week of icy Montreal darkness.
"Sudbury Saturday Night" Stompin' Tom Connors
Skinner’s Pond, P.E.I.’s favourite adoptive son spent his life crisscrossing the country with a six-string in his hand and spent his career telling the stories of the Canadians he met everywhere he went. But "Sudbury Saturday Night" wins first place here because back when he was just known simply as Tom Connors he got hired to play a Sudbury tavern called the Townehouse and wrote this song to entertain the crowd. They kept talking anyway, so Connors started stomping his cowboy boot on the stage to get their attention. And a legend was born.
"BaKardi Slang" Kardinal Offishall
Hip-hop has always been about hometown pride, ever since it first emerged in the Boogie Down Bronx. Early Canadian rap tried to crossover by covering over its northern roots. But not Kardi's ode to Toronto’s street language which also happened to popularize the city nickname, Tdot, and shot its video in hoods like Regent Park and Jane and Finch. Released in 2000, it was his first to crack the U.S. Billboard charts and to make Canada's top 40. It also single-handedly made it safe for Toronto rappers to rep the city that Drake would later redub The Six while putting the CN Tower on his album cover and name-checking locales like Weston Road, Queen Street and Fort York.
“Fight for the Rights,” Kelly Fraser
The late Inuk singer Kelly Fraser first broke out for her viral Inuktitut-language cover of Rihanna’s “Diamonds” in 2013. Three years later, the singer-songwriter from the small
Hudson Bay island of Sanikiluaq released this bilingual, politically charged track as part of the “No” campaign in a Nunavut referendum over allowing private land sales in the collectively structured territory. Her side won a resounding victory, and the powerful protest song later became the centerpiece of her Juno-nominated second album, Sedna
“Canadian Railroad Trilogy" Gordon Lightfoot
When I was a kid out in B.C. I lived near the railway tracks that hugged the coast. Now, in Toronto, I still live near tracks. Many, if not most, of us do. The railway stitched this enormous nation together and our greatest troubadour Gordon Lightfoot pays tribute in this classic folk song about the construction of "an iron road runnin' from the sea to the sea." For extra patriot points, it was commissioned by the CBC for a Jan 1, 1967 special commemorating Canada's centennial year.