Greetings to the Widder Town House

Author: Robert McBride

Date: 2012

Source: Ullans: The Magazine for Ulster-Scots, Nummer 12 Wunter 2011/12

Air — “Oh, Nanny, wilt Thou Gang wi’ Me


Editor’s note: Our thanks are due to Mark Thompson for bringing this poem to our attention.

The following wording from a local plaque may help to explain the reference to ‘Widder’ in the song that follows:


In 1858, during the construction of the Grand Trunk Railway through this region, Nelson Southworth purchased land here on the line, donated a site for a station and laid out a village plot named Thedford. The hamlet which developed, however, took the name of the depot, Widder Station, which opened to serve the nearby village of Widder. During the 1860s Widder Station grew steadily as a shipping point for square timber, lumber, grain and cattle, and by 1869 the community consisted of 350 inhabitants. The addition of several industries, including a steam-saw and gristmill and a planing mill, fostered the village’s growth and it was incorporated as the Village of Thedford by a county by-law of 1877.

Thedford is situated in Lambton County, Ontario, Canada.

Kind Poet o’ the Widder glens,

How weel I like tae hear thee;

When ye hunt rogues frae hidden dens,

My very heart loaps near thee.

For ye hae gied the pilfering race

Hard cloots beneath the lugs, man,

And then ye did it wa sic grace,

For orphans bits and rugs, man.

Lang may thy muse ower Widder hills,

Sing sweet amang the graces,

And drink frae Grecian water rills,

And watch oor courts and cases.

Division courts and a’ their roots,

Are satins work, some ca’ them;

And o’ their fame I ne’er had doots,

Since first my een haes saw them.

The deel is surely near the judge,

The waefou judge o’ Lam—n,

And gi’es his elbow’ a nudge,

Whan something he is wantin’.

Unless it be auld cloot himsel’,

Nae ither could advise him

Lord save us a’ frae him an’ hell.

And every black exciseman.

He tak’s frae a’ their geer aboot,

The poor may yelp wae hunger,

The deel has sent him here, na doot,

In some fell fit o’ anger.

Bit a’ these saints that’s hedged aboot,

And disna fear auld clooty,

Whan a’ the poor are gane na doot,

He’ll hae them for his booty.

For a’ haes imps like locusts then,

Will eat up every green thing,

Trees o’ the forest stump and stem,

They’ll no lay ought for seething.

O wad the Lord send him an’ imps,

Whare’er he haes ta send them,

Fra geein’ orphan’s stomachs crimps,

Oor prayers wad never mend them.

Ο, a’ the ills this land can boast,

Division courts and sweerin’,

Sends mare adrift as blackened ghost,

Sae godly folks are fearin’.

Sae, friend neer stap but i’ let tilt,

Against a’ that deceive us.

And drive your ’elsiors tae the hilt,

Whan they get up and grieve us.

The foregoing song is taken from The Canadian Orange Minstrel of 1870: written for the purpose of keeping in remembrance the dark doings and designs of popery in this country: an antidote for Pamphile Lemay’s songs, &c (Toronto, Ontario, 1870). It was written by Robert McBride (c.1811-1895), who is said to have come from near Ardstraw, in County Tyrone.

It is interesting that the publication contains no comment on the Ulster-Scots vocabulary. Robert McBride appears to have been something of a character. The title of a publication of his the previous year (1869) looks as if it is attempting to set up a record for the longest book title ever. It reads as follows: Poems satirical & sentimental on many subjects connected with Canada: including a complete exposure of our County court and Divisional court system in several theatrical acts & dialogues, showing how the people have been, and are now victimized, all tending to prove on the part of those indicated, a complete conspiracy set up by them for the purpose of enslaving the people of this country; also a dissertation on the doings of the Canada Company’s land, jobbing, and other matters.



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