Exploring West Coast History Through Music

As a folk singer, I value music as a way to explore and celebrate our history and our shared sense of place.  Wherever I have lived and traveled, historical folk songs written by and for the working class are abundant.  These songs are well-loved and sung with heart in pubs and kitchens in Ontario, Quebec, Ireland, England, Scotland, Australia and throughout Europe.

When I was looking for folk songs about working life on the West Coast, I found that the folk songs we play here tend to be borrowed from “the old world” or the East Coast.  Unsatisfied by this state of affairs, I resolved to write a made-in-BC folk song about some aspect of settlers’ history.

The resulting song, “The Robert Lowe” is about a bride ship bound for Victoria.

During the gold rush, unemployed single women were given free passage from England to Victoria in an effort to tame rowdy male settlers who outnumbered their female counterparts by a hundred to one. The song is written from the perspective of a passenger on one of these ships and based on a first-hand account.

I enjoyed this process so immensely that I have gathered a library of West Coast history books specifically oriented around a female point of view. Based on these books, I’ve written several more West Coast folk songs. To my delight, this project has since inspired other West Coast women to write songs of their own. This site is a platform for us to share this work.

The songs you will find here are published under a Creative Commons Attribution License.

Feel free to learn, share and even record these songs, but please give credit where credit is due. If you have written a song that aligns with the spirit of the BC Folk Project, please contact me and I will be happy to showcase your work on this website.

Share With a Friend?