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William Lyon MacKenzie
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Rousing tribute to the early 19th century Canadian firebrand reformer, who for a time was forced into US exile before Britain finally granted responsible democratic government.
Single - $0.99
Album - $5.00
World - Traditional Celtic
Charts #16 today (peak #6)
Charts #2 in subgenre today
Frederick Serafim
Frederick Serafim
July 01, 2017
MP3 3.1 MB
160 kbps bitrate
2:43 minutes
Story behind the song
Although Canada's WWII Prime Minister, W.L. MacKenzie King, was named after him, and a monument at the Ontario legislature bears his name, William Lyon MacKenzie (Toronto's first mayor and publisher of the Colonial Advocate newspaper), remains a controversial and underrated historical figure. His long fight for responsible government certainly moved Canadian democracy and independence decades ahead. Although he was usually opposed to armed insurrection, he (and L.J. Papineau in Quebec) finally led the one day rebellion of 1837, in which the only casualties were 2 of his supporters, and he was forced to flee to a US island in the middle of the Niagara river. However, MacKenzie had already travelled to England to lodge his complaints, and Britain was in no mood for another North American revolution. They therefore forced the oligarchic rulers of Upper Canada into accepting every democratizing reform proposed by MacKenzie and the Reform Party, and eventually pardoned him, thus allowing for his safe return to Canada. Nevertheless, Canadians tend to be quite reserved, and therefore still underrate his importance. Many powerful people considered him to be a very rude and impertinent man and certainly not a "gentleman", who should have been jailed or executed, and so the story remains largely buried and forgotten. Even some of his supporters at the time preferred the more polished but less effectual methods employed by Reform Party members such as John Rolph, who's recommendations were constantly vetoed; and ultimately, we owe MacKenzie a debt of gratitude for not being such a stereotypically polite Canadian. MacKenzie's story is not without an element of eccentric humour. On the day of the rebellion, he was said to have worn 7 overcoats to protect himself from musket fire. I personally feel a very close affinity for him, because for a time he lived in US exile on Niagara's Navy Island, a couple of miles from my childhood home. Earlier, he lived up peninsula within a mile of my current home and founded the local library here in 1822. Later, before becoming Toronto's mayor and leading the rebellion, he founded his Colonial Advocate newspaper on Frederick St. in Toronto.:)
Lyrics
Back in 1832 this land was run by a few Family Compact was their name, Canada their sole domain Then rose a firebrand speaking for the common man They burned his paper down, on democracy they frowned William Lyon MacKenzie For years he wrote and railed but his efforts always failed To bring fair reform and quell the rising storm So with a ragtag rebel band he tried to force their hand Few shots rang out that day but they were heard far away William Lyon MacKenzie In Britain, parliamentary law frowned on what they saw And sent Lord Durham out as their official scout They pardoned William Lyon, understood what he was tryin' Then enacted his reforms, Canada could then be born William Lyon MacKenzie
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