In the most recent edition of “This Week in Peterborough,” we said a final “Farewell” to Colonel Frederick W. Haultain, a longtime local political figure whose exploits we had discussed in some earlier posts. So this seems like an ideal opportunity to go back to beginnings of Haultain’s political career, and discuss an interesting musical celebration of his victory in the election of 1961.
Click on, for an early Peterborough political song!
The 1861 election for positions in the Legislative Assembly of the Province of Canada, held in July of that year, featured a very very close race in the riding of Peterborough. Haultain, running as a Reformer (the group that later became the Liberal Party, more or less), defeated Conservative candidate Wilson S. Conger by only 30 votes out of 2554 cast. It was also a contentious affair; there were accusations that Sheriff James Hall, who oversaw the election, had used this office to advance Haultain’s cause, and there were similar allegations of intimidation by Conger’s supporters in some of the areas where he had considerable support (there was no secret ballot in those days, which led to all sorts of shenanigans).
In any case, Haultain did win, and his victory was celebrated gleefully in the pages of the Peterborough Examiner, which was ever opposed to the Conservatives. And in the July 18th edition of the paper, there appeared the following song. It is set to the tune of “Bonnie Dundee,” the 1825 Walter Scott song about the exploits of John Graham during the 1689 Jacobite Uprising in Scotland. In case you have never heard the tune, here’s it is, as performed by the RCMP Pipes and Drums:
And here are the re-written lyrics about Colonel Haultain! I have included both an image of the poem from that July 18th Examiner and a clean text, in case the former is illegible. The author of the piece is unknown — listed only as “T.”
Tune. — “Bonnie Dundee.”
Hurrah for Reformers who have won the day,
(Success to our cause, three times three hurrah,)
Who rushed to the polls there just rights to maintain,
Hurrah for Reform and Colonel Haultain!
Peterboro–famed in the country around,
In freedom and liberty’s cause ever found
Has vanquished the Tories in our old domain,
And chosen the good man, Colonel Haultain!
He is the right man put into the right place,
Confronting corruptionists when face to face;
Their vile trick and jobbery he will restrain,
Their schemes will be crushed all by Colonel Haultain.
At the Declaration he spoke loud and shrill,
To thousands of people on the Court-house hill;
He said their just rights he would ever maintain,
So the multitude cheered brave Col. Haultain.
The “Defeated” came forward and thanked his friends all,
Then grossly insulted our kind Sheriff Hall;
But hisses and groans shut his mouth with disdain,
And loud cheers rent the air for Col. Haultain.
Our Member came forward with writings in hand,
And prov’d all was done by the laws of the land,
Which showed that the contest his friends did sustain,
Was quite lawful and just to Col. Haultain.
Three cheers were then given for our member elect,
Three cheers for our Queen, whom all people respect,
Three cheers for our Sheriff, who good law maintain,
Hurrah for Reformers and Colonel Haultain!
That partisan political song is not something we see a great deal of anymore, and based on the anonymous T’s efforts in 1861, that may be something of a pity. Then again, perhaps it is not…