Our Song: The Story of O Canada, the Canadian National Anthem


24 pages
ISBN 1-894222-67-9
DDC j782.42'1599'0971





Illustrations by Ashley Spires
Reviewed by Sandy Campbell

Sandy Campbell is a reference librarian in the Science and Technology Library at the University of Alberta.


The story of Canada’s national anthem is a complex one. It begins with
Calixa Lavallée writing the music for a celebration of the French in
North America. The French lyrics were added by Adolphe-Basile Ratier.
Various translations were made, and new English lyrics were sung until
the Weir version was published in 1927. The song did not officially
become Canada’s national anthem until 1980, a century after it was

To present the story, Peter Kuitenbrouwer gives us the sheet music,
lyrics superimposed on images, descriptive text, and a timeline from
1880 to 1980 containing an eclectic mix of events in Canada’s history,
many of them unrelated to the song.

Ashley Spires’s mixed-media images are a delight. Many are
cartoonlike images superimposed on what looks like handmade paper
containing impressions of maple leaves and postage stamps. The images
are cheerful and colourful representations of Canadian scenes: a
school-room, lumberjacks, or fishing boats. A child riding astride a
train engine appears in several of the images.

Our Song wonderfully conveys a story that every Canadian child should
know. This is a picture book that children will love. Highly


Kuitenbrouwer, Peter., “Our Song: The Story of O Canada, the Canadian National Anthem,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed April 13, 2024, https://cbra.library.utoronto.ca/items/show/23373.