The Red River Valley

'The Red River Valley'. One of the best known folksongs in the prairie provinces. It is also widely known in the USA, where it was thought to be a Texas adaptation of an 1896 popular song, 'In the Bright Mohawk Valley.

'The Red River Valley'

'The Red River Valley'. One of the best known folksongs in the prairie provinces. It is also widely known in the USA, where it was thought to be a Texas adaptation of an 1896 popular song, 'In the Bright Mohawk Valley.' Later research by Edith Fowke indicates that it was known in some five Canadian provinces before 1896 and that it was probably composed at the time of the Red River Rebellion of 1870.

The best-known form is short and generalized (a man is asked to 'Remember the Red River Valley and the girl who has loved you so true'), but earlier versions told of an Indian or half-breed girl lamenting the departure of her white lover, a soldier who came west.

Marius Barbeau included the song (as 'Remember the Red River') in Come A Singing! (Ottawa 1947). A recording by Joyce Sullivan is included in Canadian Folk Songs: A Centennial Collection (9-RCA/RCI CS-100/5-ACM 39 CD). Leslie Bell wrote an arrangement for SSA (Boddington 1952; recorded on RCI 33) and Alfred Kunz prepared one for concert band (A. Kunz 1982).


Further Reading

  • Fowke, Edith. '''The Red River Valley'' re-examined,' Western Folklore, vol 23, Jul 1964