City of Quebec they call you, as if stones and mortar and a name could hold that urgent spirit! Fair and lovely and quaint, the strangers have called you, but who save your children can know you, Mother of Canada? Who save your sons shall know the meaning of the smile on your wrinkled face, the touch of your aged hand, they who have gladly died for you, from the Long Sault to Vimy Ridge?
From your womb came we all, came every man who calls himself Canadian, came this whole nation of Canada, from sea to sea. And you have watched your children grow, how patiently, how long! What sons have nursed at your unfailing breast to learn wisdom and courage and the love of this land, to fight the savage, to plow the earth and build railways and rear up other cities of another tongue, to sail across the sea and fly in alien skies that you might still live here, in your old way!
How long have you watched the River, who was your mate from the beginning! Watched him, with leaping heart, bring the ships from France in the spring, when you were hungry and sick and betrayed; watched him, with dim, longing eyes, as he carried the last sail away in the dying autumn; watched, unafraid, the enemy fleets of Kirke and Phips and Walker, and the last English fleet of Wolfe, who was to take you, but never to possess you. War the River brought you, and siege and bombardment and pestilence, yet he was your mate and you loved him. Always the River lay beside you in ceaseless rise and fall of tide, and you ciung to him for life.
You have been no saint, O Mother! You are old now, older