'This is where it all started': Duo writes theme song for sesquicentennial

Every good sesquicentennial party needs a theme song, so an Ottawa duo, one of them originally from P.E.I., has written a song called Canada 150.

Group called The Network Man, including Island native, crams 150 years of history into 3-minute song

The Network Man from Ottawa, including Island native Scott MacKenzie and Etienne Gibeault, have recorded a song called Canada 150. (Submitted by The Network Man)

They are mild-mannered Federal civil servants living in Ottawa by day, but at night, they make music together as The Network Man.

Now the pair, one of them a P.E.I. native, have crafted a song in time for Canada 150 that they hope will unite the country in this year of national festivities.

The first word of the verse is Charlottetown.- Etienne Gibeault, songwriter

Scott MacKenzie grew up on the Island, did a degree at UPEI, and eventually moved to Ottawa.

There he met Etienne Gibeault at work in the 1990s, and the pair started writing and performing together.

Last year, they came up with a plan to write a tribute to Canada.

"We started with a challenge, let's say," said Gibeault. "In May of 2016, Scott gave me a call and said, 'What do you think about this idea? Why don't we write a Canada 150 song in preparation for the sesquicentennial celebrations?' And I kind of hemmed and hawed and hedged, because I knew it was going to be very difficult. So we said, okay we're going to give it a shot, knowing that it was going to be challenging."

Just how challenging only became obvious when they tried writing the lyrics, attempting to cram 150 years of history into three minutes.

"We got stuck and we couldn't get the words right, we weren't sure how to tell the story and when we tried, it was too long," said MacKenzie. "We didn't have a song architecture, which in most other cases we've been able to do easily, but this one, we stumbled on for awhile."

But the pair persevered, and the big breakthrough came as the nation got ready to celebrate birthday 149 in 2016.

Wrote lyrics in pub

"What happened was on the eve of Canada Day, around 9 p.m., there was a trip to a local Ottawa pub on Bank St. with notebook in hand, and the lyrics were drafted up over a couple of hours," said MacKenzie.

It's all in there: major events, sports, art, history, geography, people, music, space, and one very important reference.

"In fact, the song itself, the first word of the verse is 'Charlottetown,' because of the connection with Confederation," said Gibeault. "So this is where it all started."

The song is simply called Canada 150, and the pair hopes it will spread across the country, mirroring the success of Bobby Gimby's iconic tune Ca-na-da from Centennial year.

"We thought, boy, it would be nice to create something like that, but of course different as well," said MacKenzie.

You can find Canada 150 by The Network Man on YouTube.

From the Mainstreet P.E.I. interview by Angela Walker