I did a little digging on this song today, sometimes known as "Canadian Wilderness." Since Camp Ajawah is in Minnesota and canoeing is a fun part of the lakefront activities, this song always felt apropos.
It has an interesting, complex melody, the lyrics paint a vivid picture, and the theme resonates will all who love the outdoors. And it's fun to sing the parts like "smoke rising from the fire, reach for sky in a stately spire" when the melody rises in a quick, steep burst.
On iTunes, where I am compiling an iMix of Camp Ajawah songs, this was one of the few for which I could find none.
But I did find a cool site which I have yet to fully explore, but seems to include huge database of folk songs as well as good discussions of various summer camp song origins, lyrics, etc.
Find it here: http://www.mudcat.org/thread.cfm?threadid=10483&messages=13
A poster there give the song's origins:
****I learned this song in the mid-'70's at Camp Manito-Wish in northern Wisconsin. It was written by a woman affiliated with that camp, and I believe it must have dispersed from there.
It's a beautiful song and well received whenever I sing it.
Quoting from: "Songs of the Northland, Manito-Wish Song Book."
"... written in 1960 by Mary Satterfield Swanson. On the first of many trips back to the Quetico, Mary brought along her baritone ukulele, which she fondly named Sarah after her adventures on Sarah Lake as a camper in 1959. It was on Sarah Lake that the words and music to 'The Life of a Voyageur' came to her. Mary brought the song to camp with her that summer and taught it to her cabin and later to the entire camp community."***