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Scots Language Centre Centre for the Scots Leid

Awa Wi Canada's Muddy Creeks

This extract from Billy Kay’s book 'The Scottish World' tells us about the maker of the song.

'In the 1820s, Sandy Glendinning, shepherd in Eskdalemuir, was wont to meet Walter Elliot, shepherd in Ettrick, at the Steps of Glendearg on the watershed between the valleys. In 1824, Sandy had decided to emigrate to Canada. Meeting his friend for the last time before he left, they scratched 'Thir Ir The Steps of Glendearg' on the rock, adding their initials and the date. However, they kept in touch by letter for the rest of their lives, often writing their letters in verse. Sandy never lost his love for the Border hills, as the poem 'Awa wi Scarboro's Muddy Creeks' in his book of 'Rhymes' clearly shows.

We do not know who changed the first line from 'Scarboro's muddy creeks' to 'Canada's muddy creeks' and set the poem to the tune 'Of A' the Airts the Wind Can Blaw'.

Awa wi Canada's muddy creeks and Canada's fields o pine;
Your land o wheat's a goodly land, but oh, it isna mine.
The heathy hill, the grassie dale, the daisie-spangled lea,
The purlin burn and craggie lin, Auld Scotia's glens gie me.

O, I wad like tae hear again the lark on Tinnis Hill
And see the wee bit gowanie that blooms aside the rill.
Like banished Swiss, who views afar his Alps wi langin ee
I gaze upon the mornin star that shines on my countrie

Nae mair I'll win by Eskdale Pen, or Pentland's craggy cone;
The days can ne'er come back again of thirty years that's gone.
But fancy oft, at midnight hour, will steal across the sea;
Yestreen amid a pleasin dream I saw the auld countrie.

Each well-known scene that met my view brocht childhood's joys to mind
The blackbird sang in Fushie Lin the sang he sang langsyne.
But like a dream, time flees away; again the morning came,
And I awoke in Canada, three thousand miles frae hame.

Listen to 'Awa Wi Canada's Muddy Creeks', performed by Ewan McVicar.
Recorded for Learning and Teaching Scotland for Scotland’s Songs.