The Junos have been celebrating great Canadian music since 1971. And one thing Canadians like to write about is, well, Canada. From lakes and prairies to the Northern Lights, these Juno award-winning songs that reference the Canadian landscape are essential additions to your cottage playlist.
“Bobcaygeon” by The Tragically Hip
“Bobcaygeon,” which won best single in 2000, references the beauty of the small community of Bobcaygeon in the Kawarthas Lakes, Ont. “‘Cause it was in Bobcaygeon, where I saw the constellations/ Reveal themselves one star at a time,” sings Gord Downie, who was the lead singer of beloved Kingston band The Tragically Hip until his recent passing in 2017. The song emulates the serenity of cottage country, and is a relaxing pick for lounging on the dock.
“Far From Home” by Neil Young
“Far From Home” is a track with twang from the album Prairie Winds, which won adult alternative album of the year in 2006. Neil Young sings, “Bury me out on the prairie/ Where the buffalo used to roam/ Where the Canada geese once filled the sky/ And then I won’t be far from home.” He also references walking down the Trans-Canada Highway in the song.
“Northern Girl” by Terri Clark
Terri Clark won country album of the year for Roots and Wings in 2012, and “Northern Girl” is a star track that is perfect for singing along to at the cottage. Clark captures the essence of Canadian living with her lyrics. She sings, “Little cottage on a big lake/ Sunshine would be a shame to waste/ Warm days won’t last/ Come and go fast/ Bonfire in the moonlight/ People I’ve known all my life/ That’s where I belong/ I’m a Northern girl, wild and free.”
“Mountain Man” by Dean Brody
“Mountain Man” is a fun and humorous addition to any cottage playlist. From Dean Brody’s 2014 country album of the year Crop Circles, the song is about a couple getting lost in the Canadian mountain wilderness. “Baby, baby don’t panic/ I know how to cook bannock/ I can build you a fire/ I know you’re tired/ Ain’t this romantic?/ And that coyote howls/ And the grizzly bear, he growls/ I can get you through the night/ Oh yes, I can, I’m a mountain man,” sings Brody.
“Chase the Light” by Matt Mays
Need a slow dance song for your playlist? Matt Mays references the mountain range in Jasper National Park in “Chase the Light,” a song from his album Coyote which won rock album of the year in 2014. Mays sings, “I’m searching for something that won’t change/ As pure as the midnight snow on the Jasper ranges/ Into the everlasting night/ I’ll chase the light.”
“Kapuskasing Coffee” by Justin Rutledge
From Valleyheart, 2014 roots and traditional album of the year: solo, “Kapuskasing Coffee” is the road trip ballad you need for your cottage commute. Referencing the small town of Kapuskasing, Ont., Justin Rutledge sings, “I met you on a road of corduroy and maple/ Corduroy and maple and I sang to you/ Early one morning drinking Kapuskasing coffee/ Kapuskasing coffee and I sang to you.”
“Breathless” by William Prince
“Breathless” is a sweet love song by William Prince from his debut album Earthly Days, which won contemporary roots album of the year in 2017. Prince references the Northern Lights, singing, “I can never see the sunrise too many times/ Fall asleep with you under the Northern Lights/ And there’s something in your touch/ Leaves me so helpless/ You leave me breathless.”
“The Lake” by Gord Downie
Aside from frontlining The Tragically Hip, Gord Downie also recorded many solo albums, one of which was 2018 adult alternative album of the year Introduce Yerself. One song from the album, “The Lake,” is a love letter to Lake Ontario. “Silvery gold trout/ Sparkles and dances/ With all the warmth and calm/ Loving hand to my child/ I realized today/ You’re Lake Ontario/ The love of my life/ You willow,” Downie sings.
“Closer to the Sky” by The Glorious Sons
The Glorious Sons originated in Kingston, Ont., and The Tragically Hip’s influence on the band is evident in their sound; they even have a song called “Gordie.” Their album A War on Everything won rock album of the year in 2020, and the song “Closer to the Sky” is perfect for campfire nights spent at the cottage. “Bonfire’s shinin’ on the black water, it’s alright/ Sand on your feet, wind in your hair/ You’re a silhouette in the summer air, you’re so light/ On the edge of the lake, at the edge of the night/ She’s lookin’ at you with dangerous eyes and a half smile,” sings lead singer Brett Emmons.
“Song by the Supermoon” by Celeigh Cardinal
Celeigh Cardinal won Indigenous artist or group of the year in 2020 for her album Stories From a Downtown Apartment. In “Song by the Supermoon,” Cardinal’s roots and love for her home province of Alberta shine through. She sings, “When I look to the west and I see the sunset/ When I look to the east and see the long prairies/ I am home/ I am home.”
“Forest Song” by Crown Lands
This Oshawa band won rock album of the year in 2021 for their debut self-titled album, Crown Lands. In an interview with Apple Music, Crown Lands reveals that they wrote “Forest Song” while at a friend’s cottage after seeing a deer through the window, describing the experience as magical. The track is dynamic and a bit mystical in its sound—a great pick for cottage car rides with the windows rolled down. The duo sings, “A setting sun/ Warms the summer rain/ So far from home/ And yet so far to go/ Evergreen serenity/ Calls your name/ As the wind begins to blow/ Into the woods.”