Vancouver was a bustling town in 1886;
Soon the railway would arrive and many would get rich.
And everywhere the raspy sound of sawyers cutting trees,
And scattered piles of burning brush and smoke upon the breeze.
It was a fine June morning when a sudden heavy wind
Came blowing in from English Bay, set everything to spin;
Sheets of embers filled the sky from all that burning slash,
And Gastown’s wooden buildings all caught fire in a flash.
CHORUS: On a hot day, a very hot day,
The sun was fit to burst;
And who could blame on such a day
A weary fireman’s thirst.
Now Hughie was a volunteer in a fire crew;
They called some men together to see what they could do.
But the firestorm outran them as it blew out to the east,
And ev’rything was swallowed up inside the roaring beast.
With heavy hearts and cracking throats and wondering what to do,
A thirsty melancholy weighed on Hughie and his crew;
Then miraculously there appeared amid the smoke and char,
Untouched by the firestorm the Regina Hotel and Bar. [CHORUS]
How that hotel didn’t burn, it was a mystery,
And not a soul had stayed behind to tell how that could be.
So they promised to defend the place should fire dare return,
And settled down inside the bar where only whiskey burned.
Well one thing led another and the spirits began to rise;
And all the smoky air sure it kept their thirst alive.
Behind the bar they found a fiddle, the party was full on,
And all those firemen, how they volunteered in song. [CHORUS]
It was the following morning when the fire crew awoke,
All their heads a-pounding but not from heat or smoke;
When suddenly the owner come a-barging through the door,
And he addressed those sleepy men all lying on the floor.
“I see you are exhausted, I salute your bravery:
I don’t know how you did it but you’ve saved my property!
And thanks to you my bar is now the only one in town;
I’ll soon be rich, and for you I’ll always stand a round.”
And with knowing looks our sudden heroes
Cheered him up and down.… [CHORUS X 2, to FINALE]