East coast native Peter Boyer warmed the hearts of the audience at Goldstone United Church on one of the coldest nights of winter.
Boyer, an award-winning folk song writer and singer, shared his talents during his presentation Canadian History in Song on Feb. 2. The event was sponsored by The Mapleton Historical Society.
Now retired, Boyer spends his time singing and story telling in different venues across Ontario. He is a member of the folk group Same Latitude as Rome. The group decided on the name because its home, Essex County, is at the same latitude as Rome.
From a young age, Boyer enjoyed different types of music but chose to focus on folk music. Most of his childhood school days were spent staring out the classroom window imagining what sport he would play next, instead of focusing on history lessons. The love of folk music changed his outlook on history. He now enjoys sharing the history behind his songs with an audience.
“Folk music is the oral tradition for history. There are so many interesting people and the things they did in history, need to be put into song before they are lost to the next generation,” said Boyer. “We need to educate our youth before everything gets forgotten.”
Folk Songs of Canada, written by Edith Fulton Fowke, is a valuable tool in Boyer’s writing. If he cannot find a song about the topic he has chosen in this book, he composes his own. He goes on to explain that if it’s not in the book, it’s probably not written.
The War of 1812 captured Boyer’s interest. Very few songs were written about the land and sea battles that occurred during this war. After extensive research, Boyer produced a CD, 1812: A Story in Song.
Boyer’s songs have focused on Canadian historical figures from the well-known Louis Riel to little-known Thomas Darcy McGee, one of two Canadian politicians assassinated in Canada.
David Thompson immigrated to Canada in 1784 at the age of 14. A self-taught surveyor, he surveyed the whole country with his wife and children, three times.
In 1905, the first train robber in Canadian history, American Bill Miner, robbed a CPR train in British Columbia. His take of $50,000 lead him to a career as a train robber. An expert horseman, Miner knew how to jump from a horse onto a moving train. Once on board, Miner removed the passengers and employees and emptied the train’s safe of its contents. Some believe he coined the phrase “hands up” and was considered to be a modern day Robin Hood of sorts, as he put the safety of the passengers and crew first and did not rob them of their money or possessions.
Boyer recently won an award from Folk Music Ontario, Songs From The Heart 2014 competition. His composition Song For Louis Riel won in the political category.
Boyer’s new CD Early Days will debut in the coming months at the Elora Centre for the Arts and The Wellington County Museum.
Boyer’s music is available on iTunes and by emailing Boyer at email@example.com.