Charles Raitt’s poems

As noted on the Manitoba Raitts page, Charles Raitt was born 16 January 1860 in Logie Pert, Angus, Scotland to William and Helen Raitt. After a spell working in the shipyards in Edinburgh, where he lost an eye, he emigrated to Winnipeg, Canada aged about 18 where he became a master mechanic initially working for Canadian Northern Rail. He married Lillian McLean in 1891, started a family, moved to the United States, where they lived in various locations, before retiring back in Canada in British Columbia. Charles died at Naramata, BC in 1940.

The poems below are taken from an autograph book that his daughter Helen sent to Charles so he would record some of his rhymes. He wrote this on one of the pages….

Dear Helen

This is the little book you sent me

To fill up with my rhymes

They are a motley lot you’ll see

Drawn very much from memory

And writ at various times.

It was a pleasure to review

And write them out again

Reviving as it did anew

The pleasures and the folly too

That thrill life now and then

If you enjoy them as you read

I will be very glad

For I conceive no higher need

Than have a Daughter like to read

The rhymings of her Dad.  

The Labor Day Parade

(Written in 1898)

The Labor lads are out today

With banners in the breeze

And tho I’ve heard a number say

They’re stiff around the knees,

I own I rather like the trait

No’ that I’m stuck on pegs,

But five feet eight looks better straight

Than wobbly in the legs.

Their fathers bowed and scraped enough

To wha’ was called their betters,

These lads are made of stiffer stuff

And dinna’ bend to fetters.

I like to see them tilt their heads

And proudly march along,

There’s prophecy to them wha’ reads

In that same marching throng.

Today they’ve banners twenty odd

Some day they’ll have but one

And when that banner taks’ the road

We’ll have’ fewer looking on.

The symbol borne upon its ground

Will be a heart and hand

By “Brotherhood” encircled round

A broad unbroken band.

T’will lead the march of progress

And stem the tide of greed

T’will float o’er every Congress

Where the peoples wills’ decreed.

I see the dawning of that day

In every flashing eye

And hail its morn with Hurray

As the labor lads go by.

Song… Dreams That Never Come True

There’s a secret that nobody knows

In the wonder land of dreams

There’s a charm in the heart of the rose

That blooms by its mystic streams

Dear old friends are lingering there

Old lovers and lovers anew

Oh there’s joy unmited with care

In the dreams that never come true……

When the midnight moon is shining bright

And fairies dance in the beams

Love hides away through the drowsy night

To the secret realm of dreams

There the tryst is kept untold

And over and over anew

Youth and love reunion hold

In the dreams that never come true.


Oh the dreams that never come true

Are gleams of a land hid from view

There’s music so rare and faces so fair

In the dreams that never come true.

Me & My Pipe

Me and my pipe are loyal friends

Through many years our friendships grown

Now when each day of labor ends

We have a session all our own

Just Me and my pipe….

And as the smoke rings float and fade

The worries of the day decline

And fancy like a charming maid

Beguiles the mind so life looks fine

To Me and my pipe….

I doubt not that great wrongs exist

And many suffer for the few

At times life seems a dreary waste

But always hope comes glancing threw

To Me and my pipe….

Ambition has its flaming star

And duty its persistent call

Twin masters of my life they are

Until the evening shadows fall

On Me and my pipe….

Then vision broadens and serene

I balance up life’s good and bad

So each tomorrow starts out clean

From the lone session we have had

Just Me and my pipe.

My Beautiful Mountain Maid

When the days work is done and the far setting sun

Paints the west in crimson and gold

That’s the hour I love best for my hearts in the west

With a maid whose promise I hold.

She is waiting for me with a heart light and free

As the birds that sing in the glade

And I’m longing for her mid the pine and the fir

My own beautiful Mountain Maid.

She is sprightly and gay as the wild fawn at play

With no artful wiles the beguile

And the glint of her eyes is the tint of the skies

When the storm cloud breaks in a smile.

She is lovely of face with a natural grace

Of the mountains born and bred

‘Mong the cities gay fair there is none that compare

With My Beautiful Mountain Maid.

Song of the San Francisco Fair 1915

Don’t forget your invitation to the San Francisco Fair

It’s a worldwide celebration and they want you to be there

Come and mingle with the nations, see their beauty and their style

Leave your grouch with your relations Bring a dollar and a smile.

There are palaces of pleasures There are gardens of delight

Under skies of deepest azure Beauty gleams by day and night

Oh there’s charm in every moment And there’s art in every wile

But the secret of enjoyment Is a dollar and a smile.

Through the Golden Gate they’re coming  From Pacifics furthest coast

And the Panama is running With Atlantics cheering host

Oh there’s music on the ocean and there’s mirth in every mile

When they get the Frisco notion of a dollar and a smile.


Bring a dollar and a smile folks

And you’ll find old Frisco town

Has got everything worth while folks

If you’ll only step aroun’

Come old Frisco can amuse you

If you make it worth her while

For there’s nothing she’ll refuse you

With a Dollar and a Smile.

The Voice of the Sea

The voice of the sea speaks of love to me

As it frolics o’er the sand

And its dancing waves my fancy laves

In the spray of fairy land.

For love is an ocean deep and wide

Where hearts go out on every tide

And the sounds that break along the shore

Is loves sweet song forever more…

The voice of the sea speaks of life to me

In its ceaseless ebb and flow

And its foaming steeds are mortal deeds

Of the pulsing hearts below.

For life is an ocean tempest tossed

All storm riven its furthest coast

And its boisterous voice cries o’er and o’er

That life is strife forevermore.

The voice of the sea speaks of peace to me

With a distant sound and low

Where the waters deep their quiet keep

And no winds of trouble blow

For beneath the rushing tides of strife

Are quiet springs of endless life

That tell in whispers along the shore

Of peace sweet peace forever more.

To A Pensioner

So you’ve retired George, Called it a day

Laid the tools of a life time away

Bade all the Boys a hearty goodbye

Smiled a brave smile and held your head high.

That’s the way to step out of the game

With record clear and an honored name

Time pilfers youth and the strongest fail

Honor rides to the end of the trail.

Weary, Yes fifty years service tells

And long trod paths hold wondrous spells

Memory travels them o’er and o’er

Cherishing days that will come no more.

Mindfull too of the men high and low

Comrades in labor of long ago

When iron nerve and pioneer zeal

Pierced mountain and plain with paths of steel.

And silent desert and canyons deep

Were roused from their dreamless age long sleep

By the mighty rush of steel and stream

As the railroads shaped a Nations Dream.

Twas a worthy task in which to share

At throttle or bench or furnace glare

So while we boast the new and the near

Off hats to the pensioned Pioneer.

To Mary My First Best Girl

Its long ago Mary dear

Since we strayed ‘mong the primroses sweet

And time has tolled many a year

Since we sat in the old rustic seat

But my heart still turns with delight

To its first sweet love dream and you

When the world held nothing so bright

As a glance from your eyes of blue.

I have wandered far far away

From the glen and its sweet scented flowers

Where we stole at the close of day

Timid loves first sweet enchanting hours

But in fancy still I can feel

The touch of your hand as we meet

And the bliss of loves parting seal

On your rosy lips honey sweet.

It was fate that divided our ways

Till we strayed wide oceans apart

While the sun brightened other days

And another love charmed the heart

But in dreamland still you are mine

Unmindful of long years between

The dear girl of my Auld land syne

Lovely Mary my hearts young queen.

(Note: Mary was 70 and the Mother of 10 children when I next saw her in 1927…….)


Sing not to me of the glory of War

Tell not with pride of the victories won

For carnage and song discordant are

And murder is crime wherever tis done

Say not to me tis the good will of God

That men should labor and study to kill

Nor ask me to pray for shedders of blood

That their arm may be strong to work his will

I trust not the God nor believe the creed

That appeals to force as the final good

And crushes men as the furious steed

Treads the anxious Mother and nestling brood

Who trusts in the sword shall fall

Tis the weapon of Tyrants and of fate

Who wields it today defiant of all

Tomorrow shall reap its harvest of hate

Cursed is the man Accursed the nation

Whose passions and pride only death can stay

The sun shall set on their desolation

And sorrow shall shadow their brightest day.