by Gordon Lightfoot; arr. Larry Nickel

Home 9 Composers 9 Larry Nickel 9 CANADIAN RAILROAD TRILOGY


We are not permitted to post the lyrics here.
However, simply google “Canadian Railroad Trilogy” for results.

“Canadian Railroad Trilogy” is a story song that was written, composed, and first performed in 1966 by Canadian singer-songwriter Gordon Lightfoot, who released his original recording of it in 1967. The song was commissioned by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) to celebrate the Canadian Centennial in 1967. “Canadian Railroad Trilogy” describes the building of the trans-Canada Canadian Pacific Railway, the construction work on which was completed in 1885. The CPR was incorporated in 1881.

This song was commissioned from Lightfoot by the CBC for a special broadcast on January 1, 1967, to start Canada’s Centennial year. Writing and composing it took him three days. It appeared on Lightfoot’s album The Way I Feel later in the same year along with the song “Crossroads,” a shorter song of similar theme. The structure of the song, with a slow tempo section in the middle and faster paced sections at the beginning and end, was patterned more or less opposite to Bob Gibson’s and Hamilton Camp’s “Civil War Trilogy,” famously recorded by The Limeliters on the 1963 live album Our Men In San Francisco. In the first section, the song picks up speed like a locomotive building up a head of steam.
While Lightfoot’s song echoes the optimism of the railroad age, it also chronicles the cost in sweat and blood of building “an iron road runnin’ from the sea to the sea.” The slow middle section of the song is especially poignant, vividly describing the efforts and sorrows of the nameless and forgotten “navvies,” whose manual labour actually built the railway.
Session personnel for the 1967 recording were these: Gordon Lightfoot on 12-string acoustic guitar, Red Shea on lead acoustic guitar, John Stockfish on Fender bass guitar, and Charlie McCoy on harmonica.

Gordon Lightfoot classics in our catalogue.
Various voicings available



SSA available upon request


Regular Hard Copy Print or Digital Format (PDF) learn more

SATB with piano – CP 2103

$3.50Add to cart

SATB with piano – PDF – CP 2103 PDF

$2.95Add to cart

TTBB with piano – CP 2210

$3.50Add to cart

TTBB with piano – PDF – CP 2210 PDF

$2.95Add to cart

concerned about the minimum order of 12 copies? no worries – please click here

Instrument Set and/or Backtrack (MP3)

Instrument Set – (Guitar, Violin, Bass)

$10.00Add to cart

Backtrack – (MP3)

$10.00Add to cart

the backtrack is identical to the one used by the Cypress Studio Singers (heard above)

Cypress makes rehearsal tracks for choirs – here is a demo

Rehearsal Tracks – Canadian Railroad Trilogy

$30.00Add to cart