Culture & Entertainment

Classic kids' movie that time forgot: "The Log Driver's Waltz"

Canadian Living
Culture & Entertainment

Classic kids' movie that time forgot: "The Log Driver's Waltz"

Okay, it’s not a movie, it’s a three-minute National Film Board vignette, but it’s great and it really should be a part of every Canadian child’s cultural upbringing. I’m not sure if The Log Driver’s Waltz appears on TV much anymore, but it can be watched over and over for free on the NFB’s website. If your kid hasn’t seen it yet, rectify that situation immediately with a family screening and group sing-along. Made by John Weldon in 1979, The Log Driver’s Waltz is an animated adaptation of a Canadian folk song by Wade Hemsworth, and it tells of a young lass who defies her parents and polite society by falling in love with a log driver. What does this log driver have that none of the local doctors, merchants and lawyers have? Poise and style! “For he goes burling down, a-down white water/that’s where the log driver learns/to step lightly.” Many fans of the The Log Driver’s Waltz are unaware of what a pedigreed production it was. The two women singing the tune? Those Canadian folk eminences Kate and Anna McGarrigle. Though the song isn’t their own, it has their puckish, slightly naughty spirit, and the sisters harmonize on the choruses beautifully. Part of the film’s genius is that it begins with documentary footage of actual log drivers practising their trade, letting those of us who didn’t live through the log-driving era see that there is more than a bit of truth to the song’s lyrics. These men really were artists of a kind, closer to dancers than to stiff-backed labourers. And they encapsulate much of what is/was best in the Canadian character: hard working, unpretentious, at ease with solitude, but eager to enjoy life, and always with a subtle, playful spring in the step.
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Classic kids' movie that time forgot: "The Log Driver's Waltz"

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