The history behind ‘Un Canadien Errant’

For those of you who took the time to watch One Week, you may remember Joshua Jacksons character singing at a campfire with his native american lady-friend. This song that they had him singing has been around for hundreds of years, and has a unique history behind it. Now before I get into the history behind it, you should hit play, listen to it while reading the rest of this post.

The song Un Canadien Errant (A Wandering Canadian) was written in 1842 by AntoineUn Canadien Errant Gérin-Lajoie after the Lower Canada Rebellion, which took place between 1837 and 1838. Many of the rebels were executed, others were exiled to the United States, forced to never see their homeland again. Antoine Gérin-Lajoie wrote the song after a friend told him stories about the rebellion and how much pain the exile caused him. The song has since become an anthem for Canadians who’ve experienced the pain of exile and the longing for a loved one. The song held great importance for the rebels of the Upper Canada Rebellion, and for the Acadians who suffered mass deportation from their land during the Great Upheaval which took place between 1755 and 1763.

Throughout history there have been several different versions recorded, including several English versions, however, I honestly feel the original French version portrays the meaning behind the song the best. Even if you can’t understand French you’ll see (or hear) what I mean.

The song I posted here was very hard to find, after much digging I was able to find it. However, this copy is extremely hard to come by. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.

“Un Canadien Errant”
Performed by Melissa McClelland and Luke Doucet
Published by Einstein Bros Music, Deloris Music, Ellchris Music, Melissa McClelland
Melissa McClelland appears courtesy of Nettwerk Management
Luke Doucet appears courtesy of Six Shooter Records
Arranged by Andrew Lockington
Produced by Andrew Lockington and Jody Colero
Recorded by Alex Bonenfant at the Orange Lounge


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14 Responses to “The history behind ‘Un Canadien Errant’”

  1. Dave and Deb
    October 12, 2009 at 3:48 pm #

    One Week, what a great movie. And this song is amazing. Learning the history behind it only makes the song more special. thanks for the history lesson!!
    .-= Dave and Deb´s last blog ..Electronics while Traveling… A Burden or a Blessing?? =-.

    • Corbin
      October 19, 2009 at 11:07 pm #

      @Dave & Deb – Your very welcome. After hearing that song I figured I should pick it up on guitar. Somewhere along the searches for a decent tab of the song, I came across some of the history behind it. After some more digging, voila! A history post. lol

  2. Matthew
    February 27, 2010 at 11:56 pm #

    Just wondering where you found this song. I looked everywhere for it. Itunes doesnt even have it.

    • Corbin
      February 28, 2010 at 7:44 am #

      According to one weeks facebook page you can get the album on itunes at One week itunes That version of Un canadien errant should be in there. Best of luck matt, this copy is incredibly rare from what i can tell. If you’re smart enough I’m sure there’s a way to rip it from that live stream. I haven’t figured out how. The link I have to the song is actually from the One Week website. I had to dig through their source code to find the link to this little flash player. Hope that helps.

      • Sadie491
        May 15, 2012 at 9:18 am #

        itunes was the first place i looked, its not there i downloaded another version just because i LOVE the song, but am still looking for this version  thanks

        • Ebeth2635
          June 15, 2012 at 6:32 pm #

          It’s not on the U.S. version of iTunes, it’s on the Canadian version. So is the movie. You have to switch over in order to see it.

  3. Hermann
    April 9, 2010 at 6:21 pm #

    Thank you for the song and the story behind it.
    I like the movie and also the song.

    It is pretty easy to get it as an mp3 with audacity btw.

  4. Franzi
    November 21, 2010 at 1:48 pm #

    ohh i really love this song. But i don´t know how to get this version.

    Can you help me? otherwise I´ll go insane :)

    Please help me !!

    Best regards from germany

  5. Claude-François Brassard
    November 24, 2010 at 3:25 am #

    Ici un canadien errant et français du Québec qui aimerais beaucoup avoir une idée des accords utilisé dans cette version, je donnerais nimporte quoi pour les connaitres…

    vous pouvez m’aider?

    Here’s a french wanderin’ canadian from Québec (Lac St-Jean!!!) I’d… do anything to get the chords they are using in this version. could you help me?
    this is seriously important for me :)

    you can respond at

    • Scott
      February 3, 2011 at 10:24 am #

      if u had any luck finding the chords please send them to me


      • admin
        February 3, 2011 at 8:54 pm #

        I’ll keep an eye out, i remember tabbing it out a bit a while back, i vaguely remember using a capo on this sucker. I’ll send’er ur way if i come across a decent tab though. Cheers

  6. sara
    May 30, 2011 at 7:16 pm #

    I too fell in love with the song upon hearing it in One Week. I’ve been working on the chords and this is what I’ve come up with:

    Capo up 3.

    Intro and interludes: G G/F#m Em

    G Bm Em C Am G
    G Bm Em C Am G
    D C Bm Am7 B7 Em
    Em C G Am7 D7 G

    • Corbin Fraser
      May 31, 2011 at 8:13 pm #

      Thanks sara! I had a bit of this figured out a while back but haven’t given it a proper try in a while. I’ll noodle around with these when I have some free time. Be sure to throw this Tab up in Ultimate-Guitar, at the time they didn’t any decent versions of this song in their database.

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