WEXIT: Five potential national anthems for Western Canada

Some national anthem ideas for an independent Western Canada if Wexit happens.
Some national anthem ideas for an independent Western Canada if Wexit happens.

Canada’s rich songwriting history spans back many decades, but with the recent rise in separatist sentiment from Western Canadians, particularly within the prairie provinces, a cultural fracture can be clearly observed between Western Canada, Ontario, Quebec, and the Maritimes.

Many Western Canadians want a way out, riding an emotional tsunami sparked by Justin Trudeau’s reelection. And with the Wexit movement barreling along, some have started asking some important, yet fun, questions.

For example, what would the hypothetical capital of Western Canada be? Would it be Edmonton, or are they too NDP-centric, especially in a province like Alberta, which voted nearly 70 percent in favour of the Conservatives. Perhaps Calgary would be better suited, considering that Regina already serves as its provincial capital, and Saskatoon has just one-fifth of Calgary’s population.

Another question that would be tough to decide: What would be the national anthem for an independent Western Canada? We know national anthems are, well, more anthemic than your run of the mill radio tune, but perhaps these suggestions could be used to help model a national anthem.

As we previously mentioned, Canada has no shortage of songwriters. If the Maritimes have Stan Rogers, Quebec has Félix Leclerc, and Ontario has Gord Downie, then Western Canada certainly has enough to go toe-to-toe with the competition.

1. Runnin’ back to Saskatoon – The Guess Who

Title: “Runnin’ back to Saskatoon”
Artist: The Guess Who (Winnipeg, Manitoba)
Written by: Burton Cumming, Kurt Winter

A classic track by The Guess Who, “Runnin’ Back to Saskatoon” was recorded by the Winnipeg-based group in May 1972 for the album Live at the Paramount.

A jammin’ tune, Runnin’ Back To Saskatoon features mentions Saskatoon, Moose Jaw, and Moosomin, which are all in Saskatchewan, as well as two cities in AlbertaRed Deer and Medicine Hat, one in British ColumbiaTerrace, and Hong Kong, which perhaps makes it a bit of a controversial choice, considering everyone has been so afraid of offending the Chinese government.

But hey, maybe that adds to Western Canada’s rebellious charm!

I been hangin’ around gas stations
I been learnin’ ’bout tires
I been talkin’ to grease monkeys
I been workin’ on cars
Moose Jaw, Broadview, Moosomin too
Runnin’ back to Saskatoon
Red Deer, Terrace, Hanna, Medicine Hat
Sing another prairie tune
Sing another prairie tune

Are you trying to tell me that doesn’t already sound like a Western anthem?

2. Alberta Bound – Gordon Lightfoot

Title: “Alberta Bound”
Artist: Gordon Lightfoot (Orillia, Ontario)
Written by: Gordon Lightfoot

A deep cut by Mr. Lightfoot, (unless you’re a bonified Albertan), from his 8th original album Don Quixote in 1972, Lightfoot is one of Canada’s greatest songwriters and this track definitely captures some of his brilliance.

This potential anthem obviously rings a bit too heavy on the Albertan side for an anthem that’s supposed to represent all of Western Canada, but how can these lyrics not strike a chord with your inner Albertan?

Oh, the prairie lights are burnin’ bright
The Chinook wind is a-movin’ in
Tomorrow night I’ll be Alberta bound
Though I’ve done the best I could
My old luck ain’t been so good and
Tomorrow night I’ll be Alberta bound

The song’s lyrics, which mention leaving Toronto to get to Alberta, could parallel Alberta’s real-life situation, wanting to control their own destiny, and wanting to free themselves from being controlled politically by the 416 of Toronto, which voted completely red, while Alberta voted completely blue, (almost… Ehrm, Edmonton)

3.  Hurtin Albertan – Corb Lund

Title: “Hurtin’ Albertan”
Artist: Corb Lund (Taber, Alberta)
Written by: Corb Lund

This third one may be a bit tongue and cheek, though I think there’s some great messages in here that Albertans can really relate with.

Hurtin’ Albertan with nothing more to lose
Too much oil money, not enough booze
East of the Rockies and west of the rest
Do my best to do my damnedest and that’s just about all I guess
Them windy BC mountain passes finally flatten out
Hairpin turns and pst got my heart up in my throat
It’s hairy haulin’ horses up across the great divide
And them wild Chilcotin buckaroos, they sure know how to ride

The first two lines specifically, though, are what Albertans can really appreciate! Unless you’re sober, which is cool too. (Though not as cool as an ice-cold Pilsner, which you should, of course, enjoy responsibly.)

4. Alberta Rose –  Stompin Tom Connors

My personal favourite Alberta tune, a song whose chorus could absolutely double as a national anthem.

Alberta Rose, I miss you
The Ranch, the rolling foothills far away
And the songs of old Alberta, I sing them every day
Rose I’m coming home to stay
Rose, I hear your name tonight, as Alberta lures my soul
On the Westerly’s that whisper in my window
You’re home alone and waiting
For that sunny day
Well Darling tell your heart, I’m on my way

This lovely song is by the legendary Stompin’ Tom Connors and appears on the album Believe In Your Country (1992). The way Connors paints an image of bucolic scenery and rolling hills on a ranch, all wrapped around the Alberta Rose, should warm the hearts of Albertans and Western Canadians everywhere.

5. O Canada

And perhaps there’s a song that shouldn’t be overlooked: “Oh Canada”.

Yes, we know this is a bit of a cop-out, but seriously! A song that every Canadian knows, from East to West, is “O Canada”.

Because, you know what? Truth be told, we’d miss you, Western Canada! We’re all in this together, and it just ain’t Canada anymore if our great west coast isn’t apart of it. Hopefully, Eastern Canada can figure out how much you bring to the table and stop taking you for granted.

This is a beautiful anthem that we can all relate to, and truth be told, it may just be better suited than any Guess Who, Gordon Lightfoot, Corb Lund, or Stompin’ Tom Connors song.