The Log Driver’s Waltz is a sweet short film (3 minutes) by the Canadian National Film Board, romanticizing the moves of Canada’s nimblest lumberjacks, the Log Drivers. These guys rode logs as they floated down the river from forest to lumbermill.
This film used to play often in the morning between cartoons when I was a kid. Sung by the McGarrigle Sisters, one of whom, Kate (Rufus and Martha Wainwright’s mother), died this week.
If you ask any girl from the parish around
What pleases her most from her head to her toes
She’ll say, “I’m not sure that it’s business of yours,
But I do like to waltz with the Log Driver.
For he goes birlin’ down a-down the white water,
That’s where the Log Driver learns to step lightly,
It’s birlin’ down a-down the white water,
A Log Driver’s waltz pleases girls completely.”
In researching this post this morning, I learned that the Log Driver is not going “Whirling, twirling, down white water”, as I’d always thought. Instead, he’s going “birling down a-down the white water“. And it’s an actual sport. Birling, huh.
Oh hey, Peneycad just reminded me that there’s a French version, too, also sung by the McGarrigles. The harmonies are a little richer in this version, and the parish maiden tells the nosey questioner in verse one to “mind his own onions”.