Cat Train to Canol
A few weeks ago, I saw a note go out on our local arts chat board in which a woman at the MacBride Museum was looking for my friend (and wonderful musician) Grant Simpson. I happened to know that Grant was out of town (playing at a music festival in China, no less!) so I e-mailed her to let her know. When she replied, she said a few people had already informed her, but since I’d gotten in touch and she knew I was a singer, could I please let her know if I also happen to play piano?
Intrigued, I answered that yes, I do play piano. And she told me the museum had recently found a piece of music in their collection and really wanted to hear what it sounded like.
The sheet music had apparently been found inside an old piano from a Yukon steamboat and is entitled “Cat Train to Canol”. The Canol Trail was an oil pipeline connecting Norman Wells (in the NWT) to the Yukon border. It was built by the US Army in a huge hurry (using “cat trains”) and was used for barely a year before the end of the Second World War put an end to its usefulness. The song was written in 1944… and sounds it! Some of my favourite kind of music, as you can guess.
I’m so pleased to have the opportunity to learn this song and present it this Thursday at an evening showcasing Yukon art and music during WWII. I’ve also been asked to learn the song “This is the Army” by Irving Berlin. It was part of a musical film by the same name, which had its Canadian premiere in McCrae (at Alaska Highway Mile 910, near Whitehorse).
You can bet I’ll be breaking out the hot rollers, and victory rolls will be present…