“The Maple Leaf Forever”


"In days of yore, from Britain's shore, Wolfe, the dauntless hero came.... The Maple Leaf, our emblem dead, The Maple Leaf forever, God save our Queen, and heaven bless The Maple Leaf forever." In praise of the heroes and people of Canada


The story goes that Alexander Muir (1839-1906) was out walking in the fall of 1867 when a maple leaf floated down and stuck to his sleeve. It proved hard to brush off, and the phrase "the maple leaf forever" sprang to mind. Eventually he turned it into a song celebrating the new dominion of Canada.

Muir's song was a bit optimistic; the proud dominion he envisioned ("from Cape Race to Nootka Sound") did not exist at the time he wrote, and would not until 1949, when Newfoundland (which includes Cape Race) entered the Confederation. Nor did Nootka Sound enter the dominion until 1871, when British Columbia joined Canada.

The song has proved popular in British Canada, but its complete neglect of Quebec has kept it from any official status.

For background on the Battle of Quebec, see the notes to "Brave Wolfe" [Laws A1]. For Queenston, see "Brave General Brock" [Laws A22] and "The Battle of Queenston Heights." The issue of Canadian confederation led to quite a few songs, especially in Newfoundland; "The 'Antis' of Plate Cove" is typical. - RBW

Historical references

  • Sept 13, 1759 - Battle of Quebec. Forces under Wolfe capture Quebec and firmly establish British rule in Canada, although Wolfe is killed
  • 1812 - Battle of Queenston. British forces under Brock repel an American invasion, although Brock is killed
  • 1867 - Canadian Confederation formed


  1. Fowke/Mills/Blume, pp. 111-113, "The Maple Leaf Forever" (1 text, 1 tune)
  3. BI, FMB111


Author: Alexander Muir
Earliest date: 1867
Found in: Canada