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Great Canadian Heritage Discoveries
More important Canadian antique memorabilia the Museum has recently preserved.

Victorian/Edwardian Sheet Music 1880-1910 - Sheets 2

1 2 3 4 5 6
Five fabulously coloured pieces of sheet music, from the late Victorian era, capture some of the patriotic fever that gripped citizens of the British Empire in the 1890s.

At a time when magazines featured black and white illustrations, sheet music publishers cornered the market, and provided an insatiable public with gloriously large and colourful pictures that featured the headline news stories of the day.

Families could scarcely wait to snap up the latest copies and gather round the piano to try them out. Sadly, most sheet music that survives is hopelessly torn and mangled from feverish over usage.

That which we feature here, is in mint condition, without a tear or fold, and with pages as smooth and wrinkle free as if it had just come off the press.

Great Canadian Heritage Treasure
Sheet Music, Another Little Patch of Red, 1900
Orig. sheet music - copyright 1900
Found - Eugene, OR
A fabulous piece of sheet music, summing up, wonderfully, what Victorian military adventures - in Africa, Asia, Canada, and Australia - were all about. The ribbon of red that Cecil Rhodes was trying to patch together, from the Cape to Cairo, desperately needed the Boer Republic of the Transvaal to expand British power from South Africa to Egypt. The Boer War of 1899-1902 was orchestrated to turn the orange and green Dutch Republic of the Boers into "Another Little Patch of Red," on the map.

This map, which was displayed with pride in every school in Canada, showed how symbolically powerful the Dominion in North America was. Canadian volunteers were in a frenzy to join the campaign; the British were more than grateful. Lord Roberts went out of his way to pick Canadians for key positions on his staff, in the campaign, and in operations on the battlefield, so that all parts of the Empire could feel proud, and fully engaged in, protecting and extending "Another Little Patch of Red."

Another Little Patch of Red

1. Have you heard how centuries ago, boys,
Young John Bull at once began to grow, boys,
Learnt too walk, and packing up his things,
Broke away from mammy’s apron strings.
Joined in the scramble, sailing far and wide,
Building an empire way beyond the tide;
Spaniard and Dutchman both were in the race,
Great were the odds, yet Johnny found a place.

2. This John Bull is now a mighty chap, boys,
At the world his fingers he can snap, boys;
Eastward – westward – you may turn your head,
There you’ll see the giant trail of red.
Dyed with eh blood of England’s bravest sons,
Bought with their lives - now guarded by her guns;
Red is the colour on our Empire laid,
England will see the tint shall never fade. 

3. Old John Bull don’t often take a huff, boys,
But he’ll stand no more of Boer bluff, boys;
Long enough they’ve played the spoofing game,
Now they’ll find the lion’s not so tame.
War’s not our object – bluster not our aim,
But Justice for those who’ve brought them wealth and fame,
Loudly they boast of a Majuba Hill,
But let them dare to repeat it, if they will! 

4. Proud are we of England’s sons in blue, boys,
And our lads in red we love them too, boys;
In the past they’ve showed their pluck and worth,
Still they own the bravest hearts on earth.
Heed not the cry of “Little England’ cranks,
Who would put down our fleets – our guns – our ranks –
If ever we should such an action take,
England would soon discover her mistake. 

The Gordon Highlanders

1. Fame of British arms throughout the world for years has rung,
And, although the old Brigade have pass'd away,
Yet today, all through our Empire, you can hear from every tongue,
Of the gallant, fearless storming of Dargai.
How the noble Gordon Highlanders rush'd boldly on the foe,
And their line no power on earth could ever break it:
The were told to take the fort and instantly came their reply,
"The Gordon Highlanders will take it!"

2. East to West, from North to South has spread the Gordon's fame,
They've always been the foremost in the fight:
And in India, with courage that has set the world aflame,
They've upheld old Scotland's prowess in their might.
When orders came to storm Dargai, death stared them in the face,
Then Mathias, with a pluck, no foe could shake it,
Gave orders made immortal words which once were commonplace,
"The Gordon Highlanders will take it!"

3. A deaf'ning cheer - a rush of men - a glint of deadly steel,
On dash the Gordons, though the bullets rain,
With their pipers five, including brave Findlater - best of all"
Playing "Cock o' the North" with all their might and main:
"Cock o' the North," Findlater, 'tis a title fit for you,
Who, though wounded in both legs, would not forsake it.
As to Dargai - well you all know with what courage, dash, and skill,
The Gordon Highlanders did take it!

The Boys of the Old Brigade

1. "England is in danger!" we've been told;
So she often was in days of old;
But we've always had the men and gold,
To prove the danger was to England's foe.
Insults have been offered to our flag,
Insults born of foreign bounce and brag,
But let them not forget the tattered rag
Which so oft before has laid them low.

2. Should our foemen try to snatch the prize,
London's teeming millions would uprise,
Lancashire and Yorkshire would surprise,
From the Midlands would come a host of men.
Brawny Geordie and his neighbour Scot,
Gallant Wales musT never be forgot,
In the thickest of the shell and shot,
Paddy will be happy once again.

3. Sons of Britain ever must be bold,
Sons of men who fought in days of old,
And they'll find the martial blood's not cold
In some trusty veterans who survive
Whilst a beating heart's within this breast,
Whilst these medals won adorn this chest,
I will lift a bayonet with the best,
Fight for dear old England whilst alive.

Some Mother Will Lose a Son

1. The camp was a scene full of bustle and strife,
The boys had been ordered to pack.
The word had gone round that the column would form,
And march for a bold night attack,
When a group of young soldiers - fatigue duty done -
Were smoking and having a rest,
Then one of the youngsters, who stood in the camp,
These words to his comrades addressed.

2. Said he, "Boys, if I get shot by the foe,
Just write home and tell them, please do;
But if I should escape, and should one you fall,
I'll do just the same boys, for you.
Just tell my dear mother she must not give way,
But be proud of the share that I bore,
Upholding the honour of country and Queen -
No soldier on earth can do more."

3. The brave young recruit fought, and fought till he fell,
A bullet cut short his career;
A bright scene arose of a village in Kent,
And the face of a lassie so dear.
Next morn he was laid in a warrior's grave,
With the others whose lot was to fall;
But those he had loved who returned to that camp,
These words were remembered by all -






























































Great Canadian Heritage Treasure

Sheet Music, The Gordon Highlanders, 1899
Orig. sheet music - copyright 1899
Found - Eugene, OR
Dargai - Fabulous sheet music, copyrighted in London and New York, in 1898, features the brave Gordon Highlanders charging the well-entrenched Muslim Pathan tribesmen, the year before, on the heights of Dargai, on the North West Frontier of India. No false advertising here; amid a storm of gunfire from the heights, only eight men remain standing, seven are down, and one gallantly pipes them all to an early grave. Though honouring the pluck of the Scottish Highlanders, perhaps this was not the best advertising in the parlours of Victorian Britain.

Wrong! This was wildly popular sheet music for an event that caused a great sensation throughout Britain. It happened while Britain was jousting for economic and political advantage against Russia in Afghanistan, during the latter part of the nineteenth century.

In 1897, to suppress local hostile Muslim tribesmen - who for some reason did not take kindly to white, Christian, foreign soldiers, coming half way around the globe to shoot up their homeland - the British launched the Tirah Expedition, of some 33,000 men, and 30,000 animals, into the mountain passes of the Hindu Kush, towards Afghanistan

On Oct. 20, 1897, at Dargai, the army was brought to a standstill by very angry Pathan tribesmen holding firm on the mountain peaks. Several British regiments tried, in vain, to take the heights. Finally it was the turn of the Gordon Highlanders. Col. Mathias, pointing and shouting (shown left), harangued his men: "The hill must be taken at all costs... the Gordon Highlanders will take it!"

Led by their Colonel, and five wildly skirling battalion pipers, the charge, into a hail of rifle fire, began. Piper George Findlater was shot through both feet, and had half his bagpipes shot away.

Unable to stand, bleeding profusely, and losing consciousness, he propped himself up on a rock, and continued to play "Cock O' the North" and "The Haughs O' Cromdale."

The effect was electric; within 40 minutes the heights were taken. The victory, and the bravura heroics of Piper Findlater, cause a sensation in Britain. Piper Findlater was presented the Victoria Cross by Queen Victoria herself, at Netley Hospital, on the regiment's return to Britain.

This sheet music reflects the popular frenzy of the time, and immortalizes Colonel Mathias' famous order in the chorus.

Below the pipers who were wounded that day, including Findlater, both left, Milne, and Kidd, glowing proof of a consistent historical pattern, that men without guns, armed only with musical instruments, who are often mocked by "men with guns" in the military, are the bravest of all, and the most important, often for the morale of an army, both off, and on the battlefield.










































Great Canadian Heritage Treasure
Tommy Atkins' Friend, by EA Holloway, 1899, or
The Charge of the Gordons at Dargai, Oct. 20, 1897
Orig. watercolour on silk - Size - 15.5" x 24"
Found - Toronto, ON
Signed Edgar A Holloway '99, and titled.

Because many Canadians - or Brits who moved to Canada - once served in the Victorian, Edwardian, and Georgian, British Armies, in campaigns around the world, they brought souvenirs with them to remind them of their adventures. Clearly this Holloway painting once belonged to a Canadian Victorian veteran.

Go to EA Holloway





















Great Canadian Heritage Treasure
Sheet Music, One of the Old Brigade, 1896
Orig. sheet music - copyright 1896
Found - Eugene, OR
Another jingoistic foray, copyrighted in London and New York, in 1896. The locals were restless in Afghanistan, and the press, owned by the rich and powerful, trumpeted that England was in danger - though in 1896 she was half a globe away from angry tribesmen who could not shoot - with their ancient muzzle-loaders - as far as they could see...

In fact, the Afghan tribesmen, were, in 1896, as dangerous as the modern Iraqi Armed Forces, which, during the late war, were accused of having weapons of mass destruction, threatening the territorial US, half a globe away, but who failed miserably to get even a single airplane into the sky to defend, from US attack, its own citizens inside their own territorial boundaries.

But the jingo press, then as now, owned and controlled by special interest groups pushing their own agendas, flogged the public into sending their sons to fight overseas, and making any sacrifice sound worth it. So that mothers could accept the ultimate loss of a loved one...


























Great Canadian Heritage Treasure
Sheet Music, Some Mother Will Lose a Son, 1900
Orig. sheet music - copyright 1900
Found - Eugene, OR

A marvellous piece of period sentiment dating just after the opening months of the Boer War, during which the British suffered terrible reverses and fearful casualties. It makes special reference to the dead of the Irish Fusiliers, at the Battle of Colenso, when they marched unwittingly into a loop of the Tugela River and were shot at from three sides, as they tried to cross. They had to retreat, suffering hundreds of casualties, including 14 year old Bugler Dunne, who survived many wounds, lost his bugle in the river, and had Queen Victoria personally hand him a new one. (Below, outlined in trees, looping in from the left, in the middle distance, the point where Dunne lost his bugle and triumphant on his father's shoulders.)

Bugler Dunne, another in a long line of brave and selfless miltary musicians who flaunted musical instruments at the enemy, out in the open, while lesser men with guns, cowered behind rocks to escape the bullets.

As is so often the case, the music publicists didn't care too much for accuracy in their cover illustrations. The Irish Fusiliers were infantry soldiers, not mounted troopers, as one might mistakenly surmise from the picture. And no one was carrying a sword into battle anymore at Colenso...

Go to Bugler Dunne
















































Great Canadian Heritage Treasure
Sheet Music, That Was the Soldier's Song, 1899
Orig. sheet music - copyright 1899
Found - Eugene, OR
These songs were published for the use of the public but could not be sung in music halls or theatres, where professionals like Marie Loftus made their living by singing. She had to pay for rights to sing them before paying customers.





























c Goldi Productions Ltd. 1996 - 1999