Max Layton True The North

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Caledon artist Max Layton releases quintessentially Canadian album to honour country's 150th birthday

True the North

True the North

Danielle Marr/Metroland

Caledon artist Max Layton releases quintessentially Canadian folk album in celebration of country's sesquicentennial.


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Caledon Enterprise

By Danielle Marr

Cheltenham’s Max Layton is a proud Canadian and when he realized that the country was going to be marking its 150th birthday — he decided to make an album with that theme in mind.

And this folk album, ‘True the North,’ is as Canadiana as they come.

The album kicks off with a tribute to famous Canadian painter Tom Thomson before diving deep into stories of people, places, and pieces of history from across the nation.

‘Dancing in Mabou’ tells the tale of a tiny town on the west coast of Cape Breton Island which is distinctly, but not well known enough in Layton’s opinion, for its traditional dance.

'Lockeport Lockout' tells the story of the first ever attempt to unionize fisherman and fish plant workers (albeit unsuccessfully), while 'Talking Joual' speaks to the conflict with the FLQ in Montreal in the 1970s which saw tons of English-speaking Montrealers up and move to Toronto, Layton included.

“Back in the 60s I used to go to coffee houses and there was a mix of English and French at the time,” he said to The Enterprise. “Then came the whole FLQ business and suddenly I went to one of these places where I had gone many times and one of my friends there said ‘Max, you can’t come here anymore. For your own safety, please don’t come here.’”

There was a long period of time after this conflict erupted, Layton said, that it was very unpleasant to go to Montreal as an English speaking person, but that conflict has since settled.

“That’s a celebration. It’s a good story of us coming together and healing the wound between the two solitudes, which was a big division for many years,” said Layton. “That’s a celebration. Telling stories that are not exactly flattering like the Lockeport Lockout are still important. Merely knowing our own history is a celebration in itself.”

And the album as a whole, is a celebration in the sense that it shows the diversity and pieces of the history of the country, he added.

“The Americans are damn good at telling their own stories, but somehow in this mix, we as Canadians haven’t been quite as good at mythologizing and giving a deeper meaning to the stories of our past,” Layton concluded. “The mere fact that I am trying to tell stories from some different parts of Canada, I think, I hope, is a good small step toward having a history of our own and in that sense — it is a celebration.”

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