From this valley they say you are going;
I shall miss your bright eyes and sweet smile,
For alas you take with you the sunshine
That has brightened my pathway awhile.
Come and sit by my side if you love me,
Do not hasten to bid me adieu,
But remember the Red River Valley
And the girl who has loved you so true.
For this long, long time I have waited
For the words that you never would say,
But now my last hope has vanished
When they tell me that you're going away.
Oh, there never could be such a longing
In the heart of a white maiden's breast
As there is in the heart that is breaking
With love for the boy who came west.
When you go to your home by the ocean
May you never forget the sweet hours
That we spent in the Red River Valley,
Or the vows we exchanged 'mid the bowers.
Will you think of the valley you're leaving?
Oh, how lonely and dreary 'twill be!
Will you think of the fond heart you're breaking
And be true to your promise to me?
The dark maiden's prayer for her lover
To the spirit that rules o'er the world;
His pathway with sunshine may cover,
Leave his grief to the Red River girl.
abc | midi | pdf
Source: The Penguin Book of Canadian Folk Songs, Ed. Edith Fowke
Abridged notes from The Penguin Book:
Taken from Mrs A. Fraser, Lancaster, 1961
This is probably the best known folk song on the Canadian prairies. It is also widely known in the United States, where it was believed to be a Texas adaptation of an 1896 popular song, 'In the Bright Mohawk Valley'
Later research indicates that it was known in at least five Canadian provinces before 1896, and was probably composed during the Red River Rebellion of 1870.
Later versions are short and generalised, but the early form told of an Indian or half-breed girl lamenting the departure of her white lover, a soldier who came west with Colonel Wolseley to suppress the first Riel rebellion.
Mrs Fraser's text is very similar to the earliest known versions.
Roud: 756 (Search Roud index at VWML)