“Chauffe Fort!”


French: "C'etait l'automn' dernier, J'etais travailer, Je m'en vas au Grand Tronc, c'etait pour m'engager." The penniless singer goes to the Grand Trunk (railway) to look for a job. He is made to shovel coal till he is exhausted. He warns of the work


Fowke/Mills reports that the Canadian railroad system grew by over 60% between 1900 and 1914. Most of this new track was laid by the Grand Trunk, which finished the second trans-Canadian railway and also ran the line from Montreal to Ottawa.

Always badly undercapitalized and overambitious, the Grand Trunk faced financial crises at regular intervals.The problem was rendered that much worse by the early twentieth century boom in railroad building. One Trans-Canadian railroad already existed, and the time had seemingly come for another. But there were two companies which wanted the rights (and the government's help): The Grand Trunk, which wanted to extend its eastern routes to the west, and a western conglomeration, which wanted to enter the eastern markets.

The government made a slight attempt to get the two to work together, but nothing came of it, and the two rail companies proceeded, with government subsidies, to create two different networks.

Not surprisingly, neither was successful. The Grand Trunk vanished in 1923, when it went bankrupt and was taken over by the Canadian National Railway.

The title means "Shovel hard." - RBW

Historical references

  • 1836 - Building of Canada's first railway, the Champlain and St. Lawrence
  • 1852 - Incorporation of the Grand Trunk Railway (financed mostly by British rather than Canadian interests)
  • 1853 - The Grand Trunk becomes a major player by taking over Canada's first international line, the St. Lawrence and Atlantic
  • 1862 - First government cleanup of the Grand Trunk, brought about by the Grand Trunk Arrangements Act


  1. Fowke/Mills/Blume, pp. 203-205, "Chauffe Fort!" (1 text, 1 tune)
  2. BI, FMB203


Author: unknown/English words by Allan Bernfeld
Earliest date: 1919
Found in: Canada(Que)