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Origins: Stan Rogers' 'Northwest Passage' - Kelso

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NORTHWEST PASSAGE


Related threads:
Verse Add: Northwest Passage (Stan Rogers) (17)
(origins) Origins: Northwest Passage (Stan Rogers) (29)
Tune/Chords Req: Northwest Passage (Stan Rogers) (8)
(origins) Lyr Req: Northwest Passage (Stan Rogers) (16)


Bugsy 07 Apr 19 - 07:47 PM
meself 07 Apr 19 - 08:25 PM
GUEST 07 Apr 19 - 08:25 PM
Jeri 07 Apr 19 - 08:26 PM
Jeri 07 Apr 19 - 08:28 PM
Bugsy 07 Apr 19 - 09:56 PM
robomatic 07 Apr 19 - 10:20 PM
GUEST,henryp 08 Apr 19 - 04:39 AM
Tattie Bogle 08 Apr 19 - 04:42 AM
JennieG 08 Apr 19 - 07:54 AM
Jeri 08 Apr 19 - 08:38 AM
Jeri 08 Apr 19 - 09:00 AM
GUEST,henryp 09 Apr 19 - 12:30 PM
Jeri 09 Apr 19 - 02:36 PM
Stilly River Sage 09 Apr 19 - 02:42 PM
Gallus Moll 10 Apr 19 - 06:18 PM
Joe Offer 26 May 20 - 09:57 PM
Allan Conn 27 May 20 - 02:42 AM
Joe Offer 27 May 20 - 03:15 AM
DaveRo 27 May 20 - 04:44 AM
GUEST,Allan Conn 27 May 20 - 06:36 PM
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Subject: Origins: Stan Rogers' 'Northwedt Passage'
From: Bugsy
Date: 07 Apr 19 - 07:47 PM

One line of Stan's wonderful song "The Northwest Passage ", is

"In the footsteps of Brave Kelso, Where his sea of flowers began"

Can any 'Catters give me the background of this line please?

Cheers

Bugsy


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Subject: RE: Origins: Stan Rogers' 'Northwedt Passage'
From: meself
Date: 07 Apr 19 - 08:25 PM

I believe it's a bizarre rendering of 'Kelsey', as in 'Henry Kelsey', who was one of the great early Hudson's Bay Company explorers. Presumably, he reported coming across a 'sea of flowers' in his travels, but that's just speculation. It's not a commonly-recognized reference.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Stan Rogers' 'Northwedt Passage'
From: GUEST
Date: 07 Apr 19 - 08:25 PM

Kelso was Henry Kelsey who joined the service of the Hudson’s Bay Company at age 17 in 1688 and rose to become a governor of the Company. At the time, and for centuries, the Company set itself up in forts on Hudson’s Bay and let the Canadian First Nations bring the furs down to the Bay for trade. Very occasionally, a Bay man would explore inland. In 1690 young Henry Kelsey joined a group of First Nations travelling into what must have been the Canadian heart of darkness. His journals were preserved in the Company archives and rediscovered in the 20th century. He is believed to have travelled southwest from the Bay to the Grand Rapids of the Saskatchewan River, near the modern town of The Pas, and then west and south onto the prairie. He is believed to have been the first European Canadian to reach the prairie from the Bay.
Stan Rogers discussed the process of writing Northwest Passage in a radio interview in 1982 and admitted that he had been unsure of Kelsey’s name and had guessed Kelso while recording the song. He never said if he believed that Kelsey himself had described the prairie as a “sea of flowers” or what brought that image to his mind – since he would himself have only seen the farmlands that the prairies have become.
Kelsey kept a journal, and his only descriptive references to the prairie are as a bleak heath of short round grasses. This indicates that he saw the short sere grasses of the high plains, rather than the tall grass prairies of more fertile regions. It is also not untypical of 17th century aesthetic sensibilities toward nature. It was only in the late 18th and the 19th centuries, through the Romantic movement, that Europeans and European Americans began to see nature as beautiful in itself.
The image of the prairie as a sea or ocean of grass and flowers was employed by the American poet William Cullen Bryant to describe the edge of the plains in southwest Illinois in the early 19th century, and adopted by many later poets and writers, including the 19th century Canadian poet and essayist Charles Mair. The engineer and inventor Sanford Fleming described the prairies that way on arriving at the edge of Red River Valley near the modern town of Ste. Anne, along the Dawson Road from Lake of the Woods in 1870. Fleming and Mair were in the last generation to see the prairies that way, before the slaughter of the last great herds of bison and the breaking of the prairie to agriculture.
In reaching for the beautiful and true meaning of exploration, Rogers transcended geographical and historical accuracy to take us off the asphalt road and into the sea of flowers.

From: http://sea-of-flowers.ca/wp/?p=6


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Subject: RE: Origins: Stan Rogers' 'Northwedt Passage'
From: Jeri
Date: 07 Apr 19 - 08:26 PM

I'm sure there have been other threads, but I don't feel like digging for them.
My first encounter with Stan Rogers' music was because a couple songs were in a documentary on Franklin by Nova (TV program by US Public TV).

I found this video, although I haven't listened to the whole thing. Plenty of info on the Franklin expedition found by Googling.

Revealed - Franklin's Lost Expedition (2005)


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Subject: RE: Origins: Stan Rogers' 'Northwest Passage'
From: Jeri
Date: 07 Apr 19 - 08:28 PM

Don't know if that video talks about the "Sea of Flowers", but it looks interesting anyway.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Stan Rogers' 'Northwest Passage'
From: Bugsy
Date: 07 Apr 19 - 09:56 PM

Thank everyone for your comments. I'll be singing this song at a festival over Easter and didn't want to look like a numbers if someone asked me Later about the "Sea of flowrers".

Cheers

Bugsy


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Subject: RE: Origins: Stan Rogers' 'Northwest Passage'
From: robomatic
Date: 07 Apr 19 - 10:20 PM

I first heard Stan Rogers' song: "Barrett's Privateers" without hearing the whole song or knowing who wrote or sang it. But it was such a solid piece after the one hearing I could recite or sing sections of it. Took years before someone told me what it was and I got a copy of "Between the Breaks".

Then in an Irish Bar in Ballard I heard "The Mary Ellen Carter" performed.

What a genius.

Two years ago I was on a solo hike off Prospect Heights trailhead. Coming down through some brush I found it politic to sing the bears away so I was doing Barrett's Privateers and off an adjoining trail an unseen hiker joined in knowing all the words. We kept the bears away.

And then there was the time I drove up to Halifax and hung out at a bar with a Canadian group who did Barrett's Privateers and paused mid-song to note that we were indeed all on a 'Halifax Pier'!!


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Subject: RE: Origins: Stan Rogers' 'Northwest Passage'
From: GUEST,henryp
Date: 08 Apr 19 - 04:39 AM

On the chorus of Stan Roger's recording, one voice stands out.

It can only be Peter Bellamy.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Stan Rogers' 'Northwest Passage'
From: Tattie Bogle
Date: 08 Apr 19 - 04:42 AM

Lovely story, Robomatic! Perhaps the bears thought "Goddamn them all!" Was addressed to them!?


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Subject: RE: Origins: Stan Rogers' 'Northwest Passage'
From: JennieG
Date: 08 Apr 19 - 07:54 AM

Great story, Rob!


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Subject: RE: Origins: Stan Rogers' 'Northwest Passage'
From: Jeri
Date: 08 Apr 19 - 08:38 AM

No Peter Belamy on the recording, Might've been Garnet.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Stan Rogers' 'Northwest Passage'
From: Jeri
Date: 08 Apr 19 - 09:00 AM

Pretty sure it WAS Garnet. I was fascinated by that harmony. (On "passage" and "savage".)
On YouTube


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Subject: RE: Origins: Stan Rogers' 'Northwest Passage'
From: GUEST,henryp
Date: 09 Apr 19 - 12:30 PM

"Northwest Passage" An a cappella song, it features Rogers alone singing the verses, with several guest vocalists harmonizing with him in the chorus. From Wikipedia

Peter Bellamy was a unique singer - no-one else sounded like him. And he was a great influence on Stan Rogers' band too.

Night Drive: Travels with My Brother; Here, Garnet introduces us to a full cast of characters, including bassists David Eadie, Dave Woodhead, the unforgettable but short-termed bassist "Klag" and Jim Morison; a number of unnamed and pseudonymed "managers," with Jim Fleming among those named; and folk artists such as John Allan Cameron and Peter Bellamy who influenced the band so much.

I wonder if Garnet or another member of the chorus will tell us who it was.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Stan Rogers' 'Northwest Passage'
From: Jeri
Date: 09 Apr 19 - 02:36 PM

From the documentary "One Warm Line" - jump to 2:44 to see Garnet sing that harmony.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Stan Rogers' 'Northwest Passage'
From: Stilly River Sage
Date: 09 Apr 19 - 02:42 PM

Concerning Franklin and His Gallant Crew - 1845 is the Mudcat thread that will give you background on Franklin. Rogers is mentioned several times in that discussion.

SRS


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Subject: RE: Origins: Stan Rogers' 'Northwest Passage'
From: Gallus Moll
Date: 10 Apr 19 - 06:18 PM

sea of flowers sounds like what it feels when you first experience machair - it is stunning, hard to describe, never forgotten.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Stan Rogers' 'Northwest Passage' - Kelso
From: Joe Offer
Date: 26 May 20 - 09:57 PM

Up in the third post, the writer gives a link to the http://sea-of-flowers.ca/wp/?p=6. That link is a wonderful piece of writing that opened new vistas to me about Stan Rogers and this "sea of flowers." I had no idea that Stan wasn't talking merely about Franklin and the Northwest Passage. He was envisioning the wonders of crossing the North American Continent in many places, as Stan did on concert tours and as I've done twice in the last five years. The "Sea of Flowers" is the Great Prairie that stretches from Canada to Texas, the seemingly worthless midlands that are covered with grasses and flower (and once, bison). I have driven there and back across the North American heartland in the last five years. I didn't appreciate it when I did it in my 20s and I foiund it boring, but now I understand the subtle beauty of the prairies and the magnificent sky above.
Robert Rodriquez called me about this just now, so I read this article to him. In reading this to a blind man, my eyes were opened to a whole new understanding of this wonderful song.
It's not just about the Northwest Passage.
-Joe-


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Subject: RE: Origins: Stan Rogers' 'Northwest Passage' - Kelso
From: Allan Conn
Date: 27 May 20 - 02:42 AM

Re a guy with the last name Kelsey being called Kelso! I live in Kelso in the Scottish Borders and the local name for the town of Kelso is pronounced "Kelsey" more commonly with the spelling "Kelsae" Probably just a coincidence!


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Subject: RE: Origins: Stan Rogers' 'Northwest Passage' - Kelso
From: Joe Offer
Date: 27 May 20 - 03:15 AM

Hi, Allan - I was in Kelso in September. I loved it.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Stan Rogers' 'Northwest Passage' - Kelso
From: DaveRo
Date: 27 May 20 - 04:44 AM

I came across the phrase "sea of flowers' recently when I read "The Last Spike" - a history if the Canadian Pacific Railway - and recognised it from the Stan Rogers song.

By googling "last spike" and "kelsey" I just learned that Kelsey had an Indian name - "Miss-top-ashish" or "Little Giant", from a book with the intriguing title "The Gay]grey Moose: Essays on the Ecologies and Mythologies of Canadian Poetry 1690-1990" (Yes, it appears to have a ] in the title!)


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Subject: RE: Origins: Stan Rogers' 'Northwest Passage' - Kelso
From: GUEST,Allan Conn
Date: 27 May 20 - 06:36 PM

Joe Offer glad you enjoyed it. We're you just passing through? Or did you take in some events? Our folk fest was the beginning of Sept. Of course like everything else we've had to cancel this year.


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