Canadian Born

by Emily Pauline Johnson

The Riders of the Plains*


Who is it lacks the knowledge? Who are the curs that dare
To whine and sneer that they do not fear the whelps in the Lion’s             lair?
But we of the North will answer, while life in the North remains,
Let the curs beware lest the whelps they dare are the Riders of             the Plains;
For these are the kind whose muscle makes the power of the      
            Lion’s jaw,
And they keep the peace of our people and the honor of British             law.

A woman has painted a picture,—’tis a neat little bit of art
The critics aver, and it roused up for her the love of the big British             heart. [Page 27]
’Tis a sketch of an English bulldog that tigers would scarce             attack,
And round and about and beneath him is painted the Union Jack,
With its blaze of color, and courage, its daring in every fold,
And underneath is the title, “What we have we’ll hold.”
’Tis a picture plain as a mirror, but the reflex it contains
Is the counterpart of the life and heart of the Riders of the Plains;
For like to that flag of the life and that motto, and the power of that
            bulldog’s jaw.
They keep the peace of our people and the honor of British law.

These are the fearless fighters, whose life in the open lies,
Who never fail on the prairie trail ’neath the Territorial skies,
Who have laughed in the face of the bullets and the edge of the             rebels’ steel,
Who have set their ban on the lawless man with his crime
            beneath their heel; [Page 28]
These are the men who battle the blizzards, the suns, the rains,
These are the famed that the North has named the “Riders of the             Plains,”
And theirs is the might and the meaning and the strength of the             bulldog’s jaw,
While they keep the peace of the people and the honor of British             law.

These are the men of action, who need not the world’s renown,
For their valor is known to England’s throne as a gem in the             British crown;
These are the men who face the front, whose courage the world             may scan,
The men who are feared by the felon, but are loved by the honest             man;
These are the marrow, the pith, the cream, the best that the blood             contains,
Who have cast their days in the valiant ways of the Riders of the
And theirs is the kind whose muscle makes the power of old             England’s jaw,
And they keep the peace of her people and the honor of British             law. [Page 29]

Then down with the cur that questions,—let him slink to his craven             den,—
For he daren’t deny our hot reply as to “who are our mounted             men.”
He shall honor them east and westward, he shall honor them
            south and north,
He shall bare his head to that coat of red wherever that red rides             forth.
’Tis well that he knows the fibre that the great Northwest contains,
The Northwest pride in her men that ride on the Territorial             plains,—
For of such as these are the muscles and the teeth in the Lion’s             jaw,
And they keep the peace of our people and the honor of British
            law. [Page 30]

* NOTE.—The above is the territorial pet name for the Northwest Mounted Police, and is in general usage throughout Assiniboia, Saskatchewan and Alberta. At a dinner party in Boston the writer was asked, “Who are the Northwest Mounted Police?” and when told that they were the pride of Canada’s fighting men the questioner sneered and replied. “Ah! then they are only some of your British Lion’s whelps. We are not afraid of them.” His companions applauded the remark.