Waltzing With The Angels

© Maria Dunn, 2018

In October 2018, Indigenous rights activist Muriel Stanley Venne invited me to write a song about the Métis Ironworkers who built the CN Tower (Edmonton’s first high-rise, completed in 1966) and who went on to construct many more of the city’s tallest buildings of that era. She told me that they described their dangerous work as “waltzing with the angels”. This song is inspired by that phrase and by the stories of Ironworkers that Muriel, Winston Gereluk and Don Bouzek interviewed in early 2018 on behalf of the Alberta Labour History Institute. Thank you to these workers for sharing their experiences: Larry Avery, Hugh Edgar, Tom Daniels, Homer Doucet, Dennis Redhorse Kopp, Ivan (Kelly) Beauregard, Hugh Kopp.

One man, Paul Rivard, died from a fall during the building’s construction. The workers interviewed knew many fellow Ironworkers (some relatives) who were killed while working on projects in Western Canada in the same era. This song is dedicated to their memory.


If you pause upon the pavement

And crane your neck to see

You can almost glimpse the angels

That waltzed along with me


As I stepped out on those high beams

My sidewalk in the sky

The city far below me

Sunshine in my eyes


We were strong at seventeen

Métis Ironworkers all

We danced between two worlds

Determined not to fall


It was us who raised this tower

Hanging from its side

One hook around your belt

Was all that kept you in this life


Floors slippery with the diesel

Winds that whip away your breath

You put it from your mind

‘Cause it’s not your date with death


And to all our fallen brothers

Who joined that angel band

Your courage so betrayed by laws

That failed the working man


So pause upon the pavement

Crane your neck, see

The wings of all those angels

That waltzed along with me



Maria Dunn vocal

Jeff Bradshaw pedal steel

Debbie Houle harmony vocal

Shannon Johnson violin

Solon McDade upright bass

Byron Myhre acoustic guitar