The Maple Leaf Forever

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Maple Leaf Forever
Maple Leaf Forever.jpg

National anthem of Canada
LyricsAlexander Muir
Audio sample
The Maple Leaf Forever

"The Maple Leaf Forever" is a Canadian patriotic song written by Alexander Muir (1830–1906) in 1867, the year of Canada's Confederation.[1] He wrote the work after serving with the Queen's Own Rifles of Toronto in the Battle of Ridgeway against the Fenians in 1866.


Muir was said to have been inspired to write this song by a large maple tree which stood on his street in front of Maple Cottage, a house at Memory Lane and Laing Street in Toronto. The song became quite popular in English Canada and for many years served as an unofficial national anthem.[2][3] Because of its strongly British perspective it became unpopular amongst French Canadians, and this prevented it from ever becoming an official state anthem, even though it was seriously considered for that role and was even used as a de facto state anthem in many instances.[4]

The tree which inspired Muir's song fell during a windstorm on the night of July 19–20, 2013.[5] Wood from the tree was used to make objects that will preserve its importance to Canadian culture, including the speaker's podium for Toronto City Council, and the Maple Leaf Forever Guitars.[6] Residents have expressed their hope that the city will be able to start a new tree from one of the branches.

During the early 1870s, Alexander Muir was an elementary school teacher in Newmarket, north of Toronto. When the cornerstone of the Christian Church in Newmarket was being laid on June 25, 1874, by the Governor General, Lord Dufferin, Muir brought his school choir to the event to sing his new composition, "The Maple Leaf Forever", its first public performance.[citation needed]

It has been asserted that Muir's words, however, while certainly pro-British, were not anti-French, and he revised the lyrics of the first verse from "Here may it wave, our boast, our pride, and join in love together / The Thistle, Shamrock, Rose entwine" to "/ The Lily, Thistle, Shamrock, Rose, the Maple Leaf forever" – the thistle represented Scotland; the shamrock, Ireland; and the rose, England – adding "Lily", a French symbol, to the list. Muir was attempting to express that under the Union Flag, the British and French were united as Canadians.[2]

"The Maple Leaf Forever" is also the authorized regimental march of The Royal Westminster Regiment.[4] Additionally, it is the Regimental Slow March of the Fort Henry Guard.[7]

The song makes reference to James Wolfe capturing Quebec in 1759 during the Seven Years' War and the Battle of Queenston Heights and Battle of Lundy's Lane during the War of 1812.


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 entwine (Also sung: The lily, thistle, shamrock, rose)
The Maple Leaf forever!

   The Maple Leaf, our emblem dear,
   The Maple Leaf forever!
   God save our King and Heaven bless
   The Maple Leaf forever!

At Queenston Heights and Lundy's Lane,
Our brave fathers, side by side,
For freedom, homes and loved ones dear,
Firmly stood and nobly died;
And those dear rights which they maintained,
We swear to yield them never!
Our watchword evermore shall be
"The Maple Leaf forever!"


Our fair Dominion now extends
From Cape Race to Nootka Sound;
May peace forever be our lot,
And plenteous store abound:
And may those ties of love be ours
Which discord cannot sever,
And flourish green o'er freedom's home
The Maple Leaf forever!


On merry England's far famed land
May kind heaven sweetly smile,
God bless old Scotland evermore
and Ireland's Em'rald Isle!
And swell the song both loud and long
Till rocks and forest quiver!
God save our King and Heaven bless
The Maple Leaf forever!


Alternative lyrics[edit]

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. This version received its first full orchestral treatment on June 27, 1997, at a concert by the Toronto Symphony Orchestra.[8]

The new version removed all references to British-Canadian heritage, but added a special reference to Quebec's provincial symbol, the fleur-de-lis.

Padre G. E. Benton, a former Canadian army chaplain, also wrote a revised version.[9]

The Canadian vocal harmony trio "Finest Kind" (Ian Robb, Ann Downey and Shelley Posen) recorded "The Maple Leaf Forever" on their 2003 CD "Silks & Spices". This version, with new words co-written by Posen and Robb and harmony arrangement by the trio, was sung at the ceremonial planting in Ottawa of two silver maple seedlings: direct descendants of the tree which is thought to have inspired Alexander Muir to write the original song in 1867. The ceremony occurred on November 2, 2014, and was attended by several local dignitaries and military veterans. The words acknowledge the Aboriginal, French, English and "new Canadian" contributions to the evolution of Canada, and highlight Canada's more recent military role as peacekeepers "where hate and war divide". The second verse also references John McCrae's iconic First World War poem "In Flanders Fields".

Maple Leaf Gardens / Winter Olympics[edit]

External video
video icon Video of Michael Bublé singing "Maple Leaf Forever" at the 2010 Winter Olympics closing ceremony.[10]

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

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Muir, Alexander". Encyclopedia of Music in Canada.
  2. ^ a b "Maple Cottage, Leslieville, Toronto". Institute for Canadian Music. Archived from the original on March 31, 2009.
  3. ^ LAC. "Canadian Confederation" the Web site of Library and Archives Canada, January 9, 2006 (ISSN 1713-868X) includes a bibliography Archived February 28, 2009, at the Wayback Machine
  4. ^ a b Canadian Musical works 1800–1980 a bibliography of general and analytical sources. Ottawa : Canadian Association of Music Libraries, 1983. (ISBN 978-0-9690583-2-8)
  5. ^ News; Canada (July 20, 2013). "Tree said to have inspired song 'The Maple Leaf Forever' falls victim to Toronto storm". Retrieved June 26, 2017. {{cite web}}: |last1= has generic name (help)
  6. ^ Rider, David. "Guitar made from "Maple Leaf Forever" tree displayed at Toronto city hall".
  7. ^ Personnel, Government of Canada, National Defence, Chief Military. "Volume 3, Part 2: Infantry Regiments - THE ROYAL WESTMINSTER REGIMENT". Retrieved February 3, 2018.
  8. ^ "Neighbourhood grows trees from the seeds of Canada's history (with video)". November 2, 2014. Retrieved June 26, 2017.
  9. ^ "Maple_leaf_forever_new". Archived from the original on October 2, 2011. Retrieved June 17, 2011.
  10. ^ Michael Buble at Closing Ceremony.

External links[edit]