From the recording Forgotten Memories of the Ottawa Valley (Folk Show)
The Ottawa River, extending roughly 1270 km and with its watershed larger than twice the size of New Brunswick, was one of several major routes for indigenous people to travel throughout the Canadian wilderness for thousands of years. Starting in the 1600s, European explorers and fur traders used the routes of indigenous people, accessing broad areas of the country further west and north. In the 1800's the lumber trade prospered from using the river for floating logs to European markets. In the 1900's, hydroelectric power plants were built at strategic locations, transforming the river (Holden Pond). This song pays tribute to travelers of the river; the Coureur des Bois, Voyageurs and indigenous people. Wording in the chorus “the tracks of these men are marked in the stones …”, refers to a sacred place on the Madawaska River, where the names of men who perished in the river are carved into the smoothly shaped bedrock. As an avid wilderness canoeist (and a 10th generation Canadian), I have a great deal of respect for our forefathers that traveled through the rugged Canadian Shield from spring to early winter.