Voyageur Storytelling: Repertoire 2014

Voyageur Storytelling

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we tell you about

our Concerts and Repertoire

for 2014

Explanatory Note

When we speak of our "repertoire" we mean two things. First, and obviously, we mean the "stories" we tell, which include prose stories of all kinds, poems, songs, and anything else we think will amuse and-or intrigue our audiences. Second, we mean the "concerts" that we create, which are shaped bundles of stories designed to make a whole greater than the sum of its parts. This section of our web site describes (or will when complete) our entire repertoire, both stories and concerts. It is arranged by year (see linked list at the bottom of the page), beginning with the most recent.

Revised July 4, 2014

Our 2014 Concerts

Note: where no author or composer is shown, the material is our own.

Summer Season

For our Summer Season we will feature two new concerts — Leacock Plus Us (presenting classic works by the great Canadian humourist and a few of our own attempts to follow in his footsteps) and Back-Casts of the Mind (about memory, remembering, forgetting, and other inescapables) — in our regular schedule of Country Supper Storytelling Concerts on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday evenings in season (mid-June to mid-September).

Details of these concerts are presented below.

For image credits, see below.

Special and Travelling Concerts

We will present our Sabbath Celebration concert (the current version of our traditional Sabbath concert) for groups by special arrangement at any time of the year.

Paddle Song blends material from concerts of previous years such as Wet and Wildness (2002-2003), Water Flows (2004), Flowing Moz-Art (2006), Chordelle (2008), and Canadian Riverscape (2010).

Fire Flies and Ground Water take us back to the old Elements concerts of 2002-2005, but more briefly, capitalizing on the close relationships between Fire and Air, on the one hand, and Earth and Water, on the other. But storytelling is really not about hands at all, any more than are singing and reciting poetry. Sometimes it's a bit difficult to know what to do with your hands while you are doing these things (unless you are Aviva Chernick of the band Jaffa Road), because they really are quite superfluous. Storytelling is about words and rhythm and life and beauty and connection, sometimes with music, sometimes without. So too are our concerts.

A note about our children's repertoire: We are primarily storytellers to adults, but have both, and especially Leslie, told to children on many occasions, and still do. Since the circumstances, length of sets, venues, and ages of the children vary widely, we do not maintain formal concerts. We arrange repertoire each time to suit the specifics. Our children's repertoire covers all the usual categories, and also includes a large number of old campfire and folk songs, the legacy of Paul's early experiences.

Enough Preliminaries: On with the Concerts!

Leacock Plus Us

July 4, 2014

Stephen Leacock is perhaps the most maddening of important Canadian authors: at his best a genius of humour and satire, but too often careless, uninspired or even silly, and occasionally downright wrong-headed. Maintaining a correct point of view about the man requires considerable flexibility of mind. But a writer’s reputation ought to live on the best that he or she has written, and Leacock’s best is brilliant. Fortunately, we can make a concert by taking the cream off the top, and that is what we have done in this one. And in the best style, because Leacock thought and wrote out loud. To encounter him that way is to meet him at his best. In the second half we present samples of our own wares, in which we in our way do our best to follow in his footsteps. The result, we hope, will be for you an entertaining evening that does not require much thought.

Leacock Plus Us


Spring Thaw in the Ahuntsic Woods … Stephen Leacock

Storytelling Concert

Part I: Stephen Leacock

Selections from Literary Lapses, Nonsense Novels,

Moonbeams from the Larger Lunacy and The Dry Pickwick

My Financial Career

Dead Certainty: The Hickonomics of Insurance

"Q": a psychic pstory of the psupernatural

Boarding House Geometry

Education Made Agreeable: Lord Ullin's Daughter


Part II: Us

The Ballad of Angus Ogilvie, Pioneer of Puslinch

Mammoth Undertaking (tune by Sir Arthur Sullivan)

Cinderella of the Snows

Part III: Leacock Plus Us

Ho for Happiness: The Opera

(Libretto by Leacock; Music by Us.)

Finale: Home on the Bruce

Cover Image: The pastiche image is by H. R. Perrigard and the sketch of Stephen Leacock by Ernst Neumann,

borrowed from Stephen Leacock's "Canada: The Foundations of its Future", published in 1941 by The House of Seagram

Back-Casts of the Mind

March 7, 2014

“How do you remember all those words?” This question, in one form or another, is often posed to us. The answer, of course, is that if we could not remember them we would have to choose some other line of work. But in a larger sense, memory is a tricky phenomenon, fundamental to our humanity, and we do well to celebrate it, which is what we are doing in this concert. We choose the image of the back-cast because in fly-fishing, where the term originated, we cast back in order to cast forward, and if we don’t cast back properly the fly will come down the wrong way in the wrong place. In the sometimes cross winds and cluttered overgowth of our lives and minds, controlling the back cast becomes very difficult, and that is what the cultivation of a good memory is really all about. We mean by that the complementary arts of both remembering and forgetting.

Back-Casts of the Mind


A Time to Remember … modelled on Robert Frost

Storytelling Concert

The Wonder of Memory (quote) ... Jane Austen

The Witch of East 72 Street (poem) ... Morris Bishop

Great Aunt Rebecca (poem) ... Elizabeth Brewster

The Lake Isle of Innisfree (song) ... W.B. Yeats

Muskoka Memoir (pastiche)

... Matilda Wood Stone, Al Purdy and others

Fern Hill (poem) ... Dylan Thomas

I Remember It Well (song) ... Lerner & Loewe


Lament of the Empty Map (rhant)

Heirloom (poem) ... A. M. Klein

The Storytelling Jew (story) ... Schlomo Carlebach

Lumpy Nunn and the Woad Song (story + song)

Remember (poem) ... Christina Rossetti

Midsummer Voyageur (song) ... with Jim Parker

If Memory Serves (poem) ... Morris Bishop

Home on the Bruce (campfire song)

Cover Image: The photograph of Prosperity, a hamlet in Alberta, is from Paul's Northern Alberta collection.

Sabbath Celebration

This concert is by far our most enduring, and shows no signs of wearing out. We reshape from time to time, and occasionally replace parts, as we have this year, but always in the same spirit.

Sabbath Celebration

Invocation: Sabbath Blessings and Songs

Storytelling Concert

Shalom Aleichem — Israel Goldfarb & Gil Aldema

Elijah the Guest — Hasidic tale

Nigun Talmudei Besht — Ben Steinberg

Bull's Eye — traditional tale

Tshiribiri — Yiddish nigun

The Dying Rabbi — story of unknown origin

Dona, Dona, Dona — Aaron Zeitlin & Shalom Secunda


Cuando el Rey Nimrod — traditional Ladino song

Coat Tale — traditional story

The Age-Old Question — Yiddish song

Three Poems — A.M. Klein

. Heirloom

. The Lone Bather

. Prayer

Eli, Eli — Hannah Senesh & David Zahavi

Cover Image: "Angel Leading Elijah" by Marc Chagall (1887-1985)

Paddle Song

Paddle Song

Canadian Boat Song — a traditional song adapted by Thomas Moore

How To Talk Bear — on canoe trips you may encounter wildlife, with sometimes surprising results

The River of Life — not all good river songs came from the voyageurs

The Song My Paddle Sings — heard first hand and written down by E. Pauline Johnston Tekahionwake

Low Tide on Grand Pré — ah, those memories of courting in a canoe! — music by Franz Schubert helps

Charlotte Small: Woman of the Paddle Song — the wonderful tale of David Thompson's wife and survival mentor

Ti-Bleu and the Chasse-galerie — when the wily trickster-voyageur meets the devil, who will prove the wilier?

V'là l'Bon Vent — traditional song


Voyageur Song — the True Story of the voyageurs, with accompanying songs illuminating their Way of Life

The River Song of Maria Simpson — a classic tale of love and tragedy on the Great Canadian Canoe Route

A Voyageur's Guide to Talking Canoes — it is not known whether voyageurs talked to their canoes; some poets know that canoes may talk back

Midsummer Voyageur — a love story, up to a point

The Voyageur — by Philip Child

Chickadee Perdriole — a new, nonetheless rousing take on an old song

Cover Image: Chasse-galerie (1929) by Franz Johnston, a member of the original Group of Seven.

Fire Flies

Fire Flies


To Hold by a Tale, poem by A.J.M. Smith, slightly modified for our purposes

Storytelling Concert

Preparation — poem by P.K. Page

Bear Goes to Bat — What can a self-respecting bear do, when evolutionary limitations get beyond bearing?

The Operatic Grizzly Bear — music by Arthur Sullivan (the "Sir" came later); the lyrics have complex parentage.

Goodbye and Good Luck — a moving story of love in Yiddish theatre by Grace Paley

anyone lived in a pretty how town — a love story by e.e. cummings

The Abduction from the Cooking Pot, or Three Little Pigs: the Opera — Mozart wrote the music, which we appropriate for a controversial take on a traditional tale


How Fire Came — A mythological education all in itself

Artists' Wives — a peek into the interesting domestic life of the P.P. Rubens family, by Morris Bishop

Mammoth Undertaking further domestic ruminations with the assistance of Sir Arthur Sullivan

Tumble Down — our salute to the memory of the famous mountaineer George Mallory

nobody loses all the time — a consoling family story by e.e. cummings.

Manzini: Escape Artist — Gwendolyn MacEwan

To the Avant-Guardian Angel — an arrière pensée by F.R. Scott

The Firefly's Advice to the Artist — we recruit Mozart again to assist with this instructive interlude

Home on the Bruce — our candidate for Bruce Peninsula's Official Song

Image: "The Abduction of Psyche" (by Cupid) by William-Adophe Bouguereau (1825-1905)

Ground Water

Ground Water


Your Country — by Gatien Lapointe, translated by John Glassco

Storytelling Concert

Lakeshore — an opening meditation on water and land by F. R. Scott

Muskoka Memoir — an Ontario mini-epic of hard land, based on writings and stories by Matilda Wood Stone, Al Purdy, and others

When I First Came to This Land — a favourite song by Oscar Brand.

Mixed Bathing — a personal story, based on a similar experience by Terry Thomas.

The Ballad of Angus Ogilvie, Pioneer of Puslinch — a most instructive tale

The Wonder Fish — the best fish story ever, quite true, told with Beethoven's help.


Enoch Lightning and the Alvar — another mini-epic of hard land.

Great Aunt Rebecca — a pioneer tribute by poet Elizabeth Brewster

Fawn Attack — strange things can happen in the woods, and need Mozart's music to do them justice.

The Road Not Taken — a subtle memoir by Robert Frost.

Quiet — a meditative moment by Marjorie Pickthall

Lucky the Labrador — sage advice for any outdoor occasion

Mukwohnaeyaasheeng — Bear's place, almost an island.

Home on the Bruce — our candidate for Bruce Peninsula's Official Song

Image: Jean Routier, from "Maria Chapdelaine" (1921)

Links to Concerts from Other Years

(This page is 2014. If that's the year you want, you're already there.)

Voyageur Storytelling 2014

All contents of this site copyright © Voyageur Storytelling 2006-2014 unless otherwise noted.