This week's installment of labour themes in popular culture is Ian Tyson's 1963 hit Four Strong Winds. The song is predominantly about a failing relationship but its background touches on the long-term pattern of inter-provincial migration to Alberta's oil-and-gas sector.
It is not clear whether the "singer" of the song is being compelled (e.g., because of economic exigency, or a desire for self-actualization) to migrate to Alberta. Certainly the availability of work in Alberta seems to hint at an economic motive. Such migrations (temporary or permanent) often strain or tear personal relationship asunder. This very real impact of migration on individuals and communities is rarely considered in public policy (e.g., proposals to reform employment insurance to require migration).
Four strong winds that blow lonely, Seven seas that run high,
All these things that don't change, Come what may.
But our good times are all gone, And I'm bound for moving on.
I'll look for you if I'm ever back this way.
Think I'll go out to Alberta, Weather's good there in the fall.
Got some friends that I can go to working for,
Still I wish you'd change your mind If I asked you one more time,
But we've been through that a hundred times or more.
If I get there before the snow flies, And if things are going good,
You could meet me if I send you down the fare.
But by then it will be winter, there ain't too much for you to do,
And those wind sure can blow way out there.
-- Bob Barnetson