“Canada-I-O (The Wearing of the Blue; Caledonia)”


When her love goes to sea, a lady dresses as a sailor and joins (his or another's) ship's crew. When she is discovered, (the crew/her lover) determine to drown her. The captain saves her; they marry


Based on similarity of title, some connect this song with "Canaday-I-O, Michigan-I-O, Colley's Run I-O" [Laws C17]. There is no connection in plot, however, and any common lyrics are probably the result of cross-fertilization. (Leach-Labrador has a report that "Canaday-I-O" was written in 1854 by Ephraim Braley using this song as a pattern.)

The Scottish song "Caledonia" is quite different in detail -- so much so that I'm tempted to separate it from the "Canada-I-O" texts (Roud, surprisingly, does split it; "Canaday-I-O" is his #309; "Caledonia" is #5543). But the plot is too close to allow us to distinguish.

There is a curious anachronism in most of the "Canada-I-O" texts, in that the girl concludes by saying something like "You see the honor that I have gained By the wearing of the blue." However, the British navy did not adopt a uniform for ordinary sailors until 1857 -- this being, of course, the familiar blue serge and white duck (see Arthur Herman, _To Rule the Waves_, p. 455). This being after the date of the earliest broadsides, it presumably is an intrusive element. - RBW

I don't believe anyone else has said that Creighton-SNewBrunswick fragment belongs here (it is Roud #2782). Here is all of Creighton-SNewBrunswick: "She bargained with a captain Her passage to go free, That she might be his comrade To cross the raging sea"

The usual arrangement in Canada-I-O is "She bargained with a sailor [or the sailors], All for a purse of gold." However, broadside Bodleian Firth c.12(330) has the following wording:


She was courted by a sailor

Twas true she loved him dear,

And how to get to sea with him

The way she did not know.


She bargained with a captain

All for a purse of gold

And soon they did convey the lady

Down into the hold.


The plot continues as usual, with the captain coming to her rescue. - BS


  • Bodleian, Harding B 11(1982), "Kennady I-o," J. Catnach (London), 1813-1838; also Firth c.12(329), Harding B 11(2039), "Lady's Trip to Kennedy"; Harding B 25(1045), "The Lady's Trip to Kennady"; Firth c.12(330), "Canada Heigho"; Firth c.13(240), Firth c.12(331), Harding B 11(2920), 2806 c.16(72), "Canada I, O"


  • Robert Cinnamond, "Canadie-I-O" (on IRRCinnamond03)


  1. SHenry H162, pp. 333-334, "Canada[,] Hi! Ho!" (1 text, 1 tune)
  2. Ord, pp. 117-118, "Caledonia" (1 text)
  3. Leach-Labrador 90, "Canadee-I-O" (1 text, 1 tune)
  4. Karpeles-Newfoundland 48, "Wearing of the Blue" (1 text, 1 tune)
  5. Creighton-SNewBrunswick 109, "She Bargained with a Captain" (1 fragment, 1 tune)
  7. Roud #309 and 5543
  8. BI, HHH162


Alternate titles: “Canada Heigho!!”; “Kennady I-o”; “Lady's Trip to Kennady”
Author: unknown
Earliest date: before 1839 (broadside, Bodleian Harding B 11(1982))
Found in: Canada(Newf) Ireland