Buchanan, Mrs. Walter [Mary]

Scotland/Canada, (1863-1927)

Piggy

  1. Oh, I’ll sing of the pig, be he little or big,
  2. For we can’t very well do without him,
  3. Tho’ he cares not a fig to be neat or be trig
  4. And hasn’t much beauty about him.
  5.  
  6. But there’s meat-juicy meat-and spare ribs so sweet
  7. That many times graces our table,
  8. There’s the head, and the feet, and the carcase complete,
  9. And we oft eat as much as we’re able.
  10.  
  11. And there’s lard-snowy lard-sometimes soft, sometimes hard,
  12. And we use it when doing our baking.
  13. Oh, the pig is a pard that we cannot discard,
  14. Tho’ sometimes new friends we be making.
  15.  
  16. But the pig is a friend that will last to the end
  17. Altho’, as I’ve said he’s no beauty,
  18. And to you I can send this good recommend
  19. That he always keeps doing his duty.
  20.  
  21. He may dig, he may root, and our gardens oft loot,
  22. But that, you must know is his natur’;
  23. We may after him scoot, and threaten the “Brute”
  24. And breathe out bad cess to the cratur’.
  25.  
  26. But then with a will he will come to us still
  27. And thrive if we give him attention;
  28. If his trough we but fill with plenty of swill
  29. And other good food I might mention.
  30.  
  31. And if we have cares in our money affairs,
  32. If at any time there is a shortage,
  33. Then the pig nobly shares, and our burden oft bears
  34. And he’s great at reducing a mortgage.
  35.  
  36. Oh, the pig is a gent, on mischief oft bent,
  37. To take him all through he’s a corker,
  38. But we will repent and lose many a cent
  39. If we ever go back on the porker.

Mrs. Walter [Mary] Buchanan. Country breezes from Breezy Brae. Thornbury, ON: Beaver Valley Publishing Co. (1915/6).

About the Poet:

Mary Buchanan (aka: Mrs. Walter Buchanan) (1863-1927), was born Mary McKinlay in Cambuslang, Glasgow, Lanarkshire, Scotland. Her parents were James McKinlay (1838-1915) and Janet Hutton (c1860-1899), Mary McKinlay (1863-1927). Buchanan grew up with her siblings in the north-west regions of the city and emigrated to Canada around the age of eighteen, possibly about the same time that her family left Scotland and moved to Brimpsfield, Gloucestershire in England, where James took up work as a farmer.

Mary arrived in Canada in 1881, likely already with her farmer husband, Walter Buchanan (1862-1950). The Buchanans settled east of Ravenna in Grey County, Ontario. In the midst of an arduous life as a farm wife and mother of two sons and two daughters, Mary composed poems which reflected her Scottish roots and praised her adopted homeland.

Buchanan’s book of poems,Country breezes from Breezy Brae (1910), named after the home that Mary and Walter built in Collingwood Township, likely found a warm reception in the nearby rural community of Thornbury where it was published. This volume, which included her most famous works – Piggy, Lines Written on Robert McEwen, Why I’m Proud to be a Farmer, Women’s Instutute Convention and Duckies – eraned her the nation’s admiration as one greatest of Canada’s early women writers.

Mary suffered from ill health for several years before her death from heart disease and arteriosclerosis in Collingwood in 1927. She is buried in Union Cemetery in Thornbury. [DES-08/14]

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