02 June 2016

The Battle of Ridgeway: 150 Years

Verse for this day, the sesquicentenary of the Battle of Ridgeway, by Archibald McKillop, the Blind Bard of Megantic, taken from his Collected Verse (Winnipeg: n.p., n.d.).


(Suggested by the monument to those who fell at Ridgeway)

                              No cooler spread the maple shade
                                   By great Ontario’s waters,
                              Nor ever marshalled truer men
                                   The pride of wives and daughters,
                              Than on the day we lent our ear
                                   To news and rumour vendors.
                              To arms! To arms! the foe is near,
                                   Ontario’s Brave Defenders!

                              Then forward sped with dauntless tread
                                   Our troops, the bugle sounding,
                              To rally by their battle-drums
                                   The British flag surrounding.
                              No patriot or volunteer
                                   One cherished right surrenders.
                              To arms! To arms! the foe is near,
                                   Ontario’s Brave Defenders!

                              By war’s alarms when called to arms
                                   Went sternly forth to duty
                              A true, a tried, heroic band,
                                   The pride of worth and beauty;
                              When parting kiss or falling tear
                                   Foreboding thought engenders,
                              'Twas thus we felt when foes were near,
                                   Ontario’s Brave Defenders.

                              But never yet can we forget
                                   The kind farewells they bade us,
                              Those dear loved ones, who fought and fell
                                   By Ridgeway’s lengthened shadows.
                              The trump of war resounding clear —
                                   To rout the raid-pretenders
                              They rose to arms, our volunteers,
                                   Ontario’s Brave Defenders.

                              They come, they come, with muffled drum,
                                   The victor host returning;
                              A pall is spread around the dead,
                                   The country wrapped in mourning.
                              And lo! This sculptured stone appears,
                                   The gift a nation renders
                              To those departed volunteers,
                                   Ontario’s Brave Defenders.

                              And while we weep for those who sleep,
                                   And grateful mem’ries cherish,
                              From Canada, true Freedom’s shore,
                                   Let all invaders perish!
                              For nobler far than lords or peers
                                   Or knighted court-attenders,
                              Our true, our loyal volunteers,
                                   Ontario’s Brave Defenders.

                              And suns may gleam on lake and stream
                                   In peaceful calm reposing,
                              All echoes die beyond the hills
                                   When daylight’s eye is closing; —
                             But should the tocsin wake our ears
                                  Amid these glowing splendours,
                             To arms will rise our volunteers,
                                  Ontario’s Brave Defenders!

A Bonus:

The St. Catharines Constitutional
7 June 1866
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