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This land is our land


When Newfoundlanders add to their history books in the future, they will be adding chapters about the closing of the paper mill in Grand Falls-Windsor. Our future historians will likely write about the grandeur of the post-Queen Victoria days, when King Edward assumed the throne (and was later given the royal "up boot and give 'er" because he hooked up with an American divorcée) made a Royal Visit.

When Newfoundlanders add to their history books in the future, they will be adding chapters about the closing of the paper mill in Grand Falls-Windsor. Our future historians will likely write about the grandeur of the post-Queen Victoria days, when King Edward assumed the throne (and was later given the royal "up boot and give 'er" because he hooked up with an American divorcée) made a Royal Visit. And hopefully they will write about how the town bounced back after what one business owner called "Black Thursday" - Dec. 4 , 2008, when central Newfoundland got a "Dear John" letter from AbitibiBowater. Maybe some of our future chroniclers can update some of our traditional Newfoundland songbooks as well as our history, with both showing that the Newfoundland spirit is feisty and will not go down without a fight. One songbook that's been recently re-issued but can be found at many garage sales is the wonderful Gerald S. Doyle Songbook, published in several editions in the first half of the 20th century, with different traditional tunes, many of them centuries old, as well as more recent ones added. Gerald S. Doyle was a wonderful character in his own time, as not only his children but well-known personalities today in the arts and in politics can attest. He developed radio's "Gerald S. Doyle bulletin" and published the songbooks.

What would a future GSD songbook have today?

How about a version of "This Land Is Your Land," with apologies to composer Woody Guthrie? Gather 'round everybody, and join in! "This Land Is Our Land/This Land Is Our Land/From Baie Verte Junction past Exploits Island/Not Abitibi's/they don't deserve it/This Land Was Made For New-oo-fies!"

Don't forget to rewrite "The Badger Drive," either. "In wishing success to all old Badger/and the A.N.D. Company...and long may the business be managed/by Mr. Dorothy and Mr. Cole" is in bad need of a Botox job. Sing, everyone! How about "No more selling our rights and souls out/to companies with no souls a-tall!" (Ironically, the said Misters Dorothy and Cole later fired the employee and songwriter, one P.K. Devine. He must have been missing a log himself when he wrote that song.)

And Omar Blondahl's "The Business of Makin' the Paper," also in one of the old Doyle songbooks? You could change the title to "The Business of Breakin' the Workers," written from the viewpoint of an ex-employee. Or "The Anti-Confederate Song," with the line "Come Near At Your Peril, you Canadian Wolf" - to "Come Near At Your Peril, you Montreal goons!" Think it will end up on Canadian Idol, circa 2906 (when Abitibi's lease on 1,619 hectares of forestland expires! Good for the long-lived tortoises and giant redwoods)?

Well, it's time to wrap up this future-history reworking of Newfoundland songs. The future residents of central Newfoundland won't be bursting into song with the Badger Drive's "And long may they live for to flourish/And continue to chop, drive and roll" unless they've changed to "stop, drop and roll" for a fire safety slogan.

But when it comes to getting the rights to our resources of timber, water and in relation to another industry - fish - we shouldn't have to change the words much to another Newfoundland favourite.

Here's a warning to any future company hoping to secure our resource rights as well as to any government foolish enough, a la Joey Smallwood, to give them away.

Sing, people! "We'll rant and we'll roar, like true Newfoundlanders!"

Sue Hickey

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