The ‘Log Driver’s Waltz’ is a delightful Canadian folk song written by Wade Hemsworth. Animations and Illustrations are by John Weldon, who in my opinion, is one ‘heap skookum’ animator!

The Log Driver’s Waltz provides the musical backdrop for the Canadian animated film produced by the National Film Board of Canada. It was released in 1979 as part of its Canada Vignettes series.

The music and the animated vignette is delightful! Every time I watch it, I smile. I especially like the amazing transition from film to animation!

Having grown up in the Ottawa Valley in Eastern Ontario, Canada, log drives such as the one shown in this filmstrip were common in our area. There is a replica of a pointer boat used in the log drive on display in Pembroke Ontario. To this date, the logging industry is a major industry in Renfrew County, Ontario Canada, where my childhood home was located.

This is an absolutely delightful animation video. Kudos to the artist, the musicians, and to all the the men who risked their lives as log drivers in order to support their families.



The song celebrates the profession of log driving, a practice in the lumber industry (especially in the Ottawa Valley) which involved transporting felled timber by having workers walk or run on the logs as to guide them as they floated down the river.

This occupation required a great deal of strength and physical agility. Hemsworth was struck by how much the sight of log drivers at work resembled dancing.

The song’s chorus is:

For he goes birling down a-down the white water
That’s where the log driver learns to step lightly
It’s birling down, a-down white water
A log driver’s waltz pleases girls completely.

The lyrics are often misheard as “whirling” or “twirling” instead of “birling”. “Birl” is an old Scottish verb meaning “to revolve or cause to revolve”. In modern English means “to cause a floating log to rotate by treading.” Today, birling survives as a competitive sport.

The song also contains considerable double-entendres, beginning with the sentiments of the opening stanza:

If you ask any girl from the parish around,
What pleases her most from her head to her toes;
She’ll say, “I’m not sure that it’s business of yours,
But I do like to waltz with a log driver.”

Many artists have recorded renditions of the song, which is an enduring classic in Canadian music.

The most famous version, by Kate and Anna McGarrigle and the Mountain City Four, was the soundtrack for a 1979 animated short film by the National Film Board. The National Film Board of Canada also produced a French version of the animated vignette. Source: Wikipedia.


There is an incredible early film of the log-drivers at work at the end of the main article. Watching this video certainly gives me a deeper appreciation for the forestry and lumbering heritage of this lovely area I once caleedl home. Note the Pointer Boat, the flat bottomed batteau shown in this film. These boats were were manufactured in Pembroke, Ontario.



Here is a link to the National Film Board’s Gift to You:


National Film Board of Canada – Watch Films Online for Free!


“Because we, at the NFB, feel confident you would never abandon us for another streaming site. (I mean, how could you?) We decided to put together and share with you a list of destinations for watching films online.

Almost all sites in the above links are free; only one requires you to become a member.”