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Music / Stan Rogers

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Stanley Allison Rogers (November 29, 1949 – June 2, 1983) was an iconic Atlantic Canadiannote  folk Singer-Songwriter whose brief, brilliant career began in 1976, produced a number of albums, and was then cut short by his tragic death in an airplane accident at the age of 33.

He left behind an enduring legacy for the Canadian music scene, and a number of his songs ("Barrett's Privateers", "Northwest Passage", "The Mary Ellen Carter") have become national standards. "Northwest Passage" has been cited by prime ministers and governors general as an unofficial national anthem of sorts, and was voted the fourth-best Canadian song of all time in a CBC radio poll.

There is an annual music festival held in his honour in Nova Scotia.


  • Fogarty's Cove (1976)
  • Turnaround (1978)
  • Between the Breaks ... Live! (1979)
  • Northwest Passage (1981)
  • For the Family (1983, the first of five posthumous collections)
  • From Fresh Water (1984, posthumous)
  • Home in Halifax (1993, posthumous)
  • Poetic Justice (1996, posthumous)
  • From Coffee House to Concert Hall (1999, posthumous)


  • The Alleged Car: The Antelope sloop in "Barrett's Privateers", which can barely sail and gets smashed into pieces with one cannonball.
    The Antelope sloop was a sickening sight
    She'd a list to the port and her sails in rags
    And the cook in the scuppers with the staggers 'n jags
  • Anti-Christmas Song:
    • "First Christmas" isn't strictly anti-Christmas, but as Rogers believed Christmas was a time not just for celebration but for deep, sober reflection, it's depressing.
    • "At Last I'm Ready for Christmas" tries to be one, but, like the narrator, the song's heart just isn't in it.
      We swore this year we'd keep things simple, then did our usual spree.
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: In "The Idiot", the narrator's complaints about his job out west are the desolate landscape, the refinery fumes, and the cowboy clothes they wear.
  • Artistic License – History: The last of Barrett’s Privateers longs for Sherbrooke, but the town didn’t gain that name until 1818. The song mostly takes place in 1778, while the final verse is set in 1784.
  • Bystander Syndrome: The narrator of "Harris and the Mare" bitterly laments that none of his neighbors at the pub assisted him in the fight with Clary or its aftermath, stating "And none of them I'll call a friend no more."
  • Determinator: After their ship is sunk in a storm and written off by the owners, five members of the crew of "The Mary Ellen Carter" vow that she will rise again ... and through back-breaking labor and unbreakable will, make good on their promise. Stan then invites the audience to follow their example: "Turn to, and put out all your strength of arm and heart and brain/ And like the Mary Ellen Carter, rise again!"
  • Drinking on Duty: The captain in "The Mary Ellen Carter" is a Drunk Driver.
  • Dying Town: "Fogarty's Cove" (jauntier than the others), "Finch's Complaint", "Make and Break Harbour", "The Field Behind the Plow", "Free in the Harbour", "Tiny Fish for Japan"...
    • The narrator in "The Idiot" left one of these to work in a refinery out west.
  • Fatal Family Photo: the kid has one in "White Squall".
  • The Greatest Story Never Told: "MacDonnell on the Heights" tells of an unsung hero of the Battle of Queenston Heights, "but not one in ten thousand knows [his] name."
  • Happily Married: The woman in "Lies": despite having become older and less conventionally beautiful, her husband still loves her face "line for line" and still takes her out dancing when they get the chance.
  • Heavy Mithril: While not heavy, "The Witch of the Westmorland" is about a knight with a Wound That Will Not Heal who is blessed by a centaur witch to be invincible.
  • Heroic Sacrifice:
    • "The Flowers of Bermuda", about a captain who goes down with the ship so his crew can escape running aground.
    • "MacDonnell on the Heights" is about how the eponymous Lieutenant-Colonel rallied his fellow Canadian soldiers after their general's death, thus setting the stage for victory before becoming mortally wounded himself. However, because of General Brock's greater rank and more notable demise in battle itself (MacDonnell succumbed to his wounds the next day), this sacrifice has been overshadowed in history.
  • Job Song:
    • "The Field Behind the Plow" is about a farmer.
    • "The Idiot" is about a refinery worker.
    • "White Collar Holler" is about a computer programmer.
    • "Working Joe" is a variation in that the narrator's actual job is never stated, rather the song is about the stress and fatigue associated with being employed full-time while simultaneously supporting a family.
  • Offscreen Moment of Awesome: We never actually get to see the Mary Ellen Carter "rise again," except for indirectly, when the singer describes what will happen tomorrow. That said, the preparations for doing so are pretty awesome in and of themselves.
  • The Pioneer: "Northwest Passage", although the singer is about a hundred years too late and merely inspired by the Franklin, Kelso, and Thompson Expeditions.
  • Precision F-Strike: Most of the "Mary Ellen Carter" goes by without more than one mild "hell" until the final verse, which Rogers punctuates with relish:
    And you to whom adversity has dealt the final blow,
    With smiling bastards lying to you everywhere you go ...
  • Recruiters Always Lie: The Captain in "Barrett's Privateers" promises a cushy gig with no fighting and plenty of loot. Disaster ensues.
  • Rich Jerk: The owners of "The Mary Ellen Carter" quickly write off the sunken ship and claim the insurance money, even though the crew insists it's still salvageable.
  • Seadog Peg Leg: The narrator of "Barrett's Privateers" loses both of his legs when the Antelope is sunk, though whether he ultimately receives replacements for them (wooden or otherwise) is never stated.
  • Sole Survivor: "[I'm] the last of Barrett's Privateers."
  • Take That!: Ontario's tourism industry came out with the slogan "No place you'd rather be." Stan's response, from "Watching the Apples Grow":
    Ontario, y'know, I've found the place I'd rather be;
    Your scummy lakes and city of Toronto don't do a damn thing for me,
    I'd rather live by the sea.