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Highway of Heroes

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This article is about the song by The Trews. You may be looking for the article about the Macdonald–Cartier Freeway.
Highway of Heroes
"Highway of Heroes"
Basic information
Single by

The Trews[1]

From the album

Highway of Heroes (single)[2]

Year recorded


Date(s) released
Song information
Music genre


Song length


Record label

Bumstead Productions Ltd.[3]

Written by

The Trews & Gordie Johnson[2]

Music video

Watch on YouTube

"Carry me home on the Highway of Heroes
People above with their flags flying low
Carry me softly down the Highway of Heroes
True Patriot Love, there was never more
― The chorus of "Highway of Heroes" [src]

"Highway of Heroes" is a rock song by the Canadian band The Trews and written by Colin and John-Angus MacDonald, along with Gordie Johnson, who is best known as the front man for the band Big Sugar. Performed by The Trews, along with Tim Chaisson and Jeff Heisholt, the song was released worldwide in digital format via iTunes on May 18, 2010 as a singles album under the same name. Two months later, on July 20, the physical CD single for the song was released. Colin MacDonald provides the lead vocals, while other members of The Trews provide backup vocals. The song features a number of instruments including acoustic and bass guitars, a fiddle, as well as a pipe band gathered from various parts of Eastern Ontario.

The writing of the song was influenced by the death of Capt. Nichola Goddard during the War in Afghanistan, who was the first Canadian female combat soldier to be killed in action. Over the course of the writing of "Highway of Heroes", The Trews made the decision to pan out from the specific details surrounding Goddard's death, and instead focus the song on the general story of all Canadian Forces soldiers who have been killed while doing their duty.

"Highway of Heroes" achieved instant success when it was initially released in both its digital and physical formats. Upon its digital release in May 2010 the song reached #3 on the iTunes Rock Chart, and #61 on the Canadian Hot 100 chart. With the physical release in July 2010 the song peaked at #2 on the Canadian Singles Top 20, a chart which tracks the sales of music singles and albums across Canada.


"This past fall, Colin and I were reminded of Nichola's story via our mother, who had taught her at school. We decided to zoom out from the specific details of Nichola's story and make it more general, dedicating it to all soldiers past, present and future who are carried home on the Highway of Heroes."
― John-Angus MacDonald, explaining the details behind the inspiration of the single [src]

The song "Highway of Heroes" was inspired by the real life death of Captain Nichola Goddard who was killed in action during a tour of duty in Afghanistan in 2006. The Trews front-men, John-Angus and Colin MacDonald, went to high school with Goddard in Antigonish, Nova Scotia. The brothers had not been that close with her, since she was a little bit older than them and had graduated a year ahead of both John-Angus and Colin, but Goddard's death nevertheless ended up deeply affecting the two MacDonald brothers.[1]

The Trews. Colin (middle-right) and John-Angus (middle-left) are brothers and form half of the group.

In the fall of 2009, Colin and John-Angus were reminded of the death of Goddard by their mother, who had taught Nichola in high school and who was being interviewed for the book Canada's Daughter whose subject is the life and death of Goddard. Upon hearing the story again, several years after it had happened, the brothers were confronted by all of the memories that they had experienced when they had first learned of Goddard's death in May of 2006. Inspired by those feelings, as well as their memories of Goddard, Colin and John-Angus, along with their friend Gordie Johnson, wrote the lyrics for what would eventually become "Highway of Heroes".[2]

During the actual writing of the song the writers decided that they should focus the song on more of the general story of the Canadian Forces soldier who is killed in the line of duty, than that of Nichola Goddard. This can be seen in many throughout the song in the fact that the person who is sung about is said to be from Ontario.[2]

The Trews have since dedicated the song to all Canadian Forces soldiers, past, present, and future, who are carried home down the Highway of Heroes,[2] a stretch of the Macdonald–Cartier Freeway in Ontario between Toronto and CFB Trenton. This stretch of highway was officially named the Highway of Heroes by the Canadian government due to the fact it is often travelled by a convoy of vehicles carrying the bodies of fallen Canadian soldiers, with his or her family, from CFB Trenton to the coroner's office at the Centre for Forensic Sciences in Toronto. Since 2002, when the first of Canada's fallen soldiers were returned from Afghanistan, crowds have lined the overpasses to pay their respects as convoys pass. This can be seen in the artwork of the CD single for "Highway of Heroes", which depicts the shadows of Canadians, who are standing along an overpass, waving flags.[5]

Music video

"I have been to Afghanistan twice and lost friends and think this is the best tribute I have yet to see."
― A viewer commenting on the music video upon its release [src]

The song's music video, directed by Tim Martin,[6] was released by The Trews on May 14, 2010 two days before the song was released on the radio airways and four days before the digital song was available for purchase in the iTunes store. The Trews released the video via their official website, as well as the popular video-sharing site YouTube, so that it would get as wide a range of distribution as possible.[4]

The Trews performing in the music video for "Highway of Heroes"

The music video for "Highway of Heroes" is a collection of scenes depicting personal and governmental videos of the Canadian Forces during the War in Afghanistan, as well as those of The Trews performing the actual song. In the video, The Trews' lead singer, Colin MacDonald, is seen sitting on a couch watching a small television which is showing various videos of Canadian soldiers in Afghanistan performing a number of duties. In between these scenes the viewer is shown the different members of The Trews as they play their instruments, sing along with the song and lead singer, or both.[7] Also seen in the video are Tim Chaisson on the fiddle and Jeff Heisholt on the accordion; both of whom are friends of the band and who agreed to help provide the necessary instrumental requirements for the song.[8] The Canadian Forces videos which appear on the television are intermittently displayed across the entire screen before cutting back and forth between The Trews performing, or back to MacDonald watching the television from a couch. Towards the end of the music video the scenes from Afghanistan suddenly change to show a recording of a repatriation ceremony of a fallen Canadian soldier along the actual Highway of Heroes. Witnessed during this recording is a hearse travelling down the Highway of Heroes while it is escorted by other funeral procession vehicles and those of various Canadian police forces; also seen are dozens of Canadian citizens standing atop the highway's overpasses, holding Canadian flags, as well as various "Support our troops" flags, in honour of the repatriated soldier. The music video closes with a shot of the small television displaying the logo for the Canadian Hero Fund before panning back to The Trews as they complete the song.[7]


"We've been blown away by how people have connected to [the song]. We've received notes from soldiers all over the world, soldiers in general showing their appreciation for us writing [about it]."
― Colin MacDonald, commenting on the reception they have received for "Highway of Heroes" [src]

"Highway of Heroes" received very positive reviews from listeners upon its release in Canada. The song has been well received from many sectors of the Canadian public, especially with past and present members of the Canadian Forces.[9][10] Following the release of the music video on YouTube on May 14, one soldier commented that "I have been to Afghanistan twice and lost friends and think this is the best tribute I have yet to see".[10] Likewise, the music video garnered almost 10,000 views on YouTube only a few days after its release;[11] the following three month period saw that number rise to almost 150,000 views. [12] Since its release "Highway of Heroes" has become a fan-favourite at The Trews' live events, and the reception received from fans, including Canadian soldiers, has "blown away" Colin MacDonald and the rest of band.[13] Michael Ball, executive director of the Canadian Hero Fund, commented that the song had been played on a local radio station in Barrie, Ontario (only 20 minutes away from CFB Borden) on the weekend following its release, which coincided with the deaths Pte. Kevin McKay and Col. Geoff Parker, both of who had been killed in Afghanistan that same week. Following the broadcast of the song in Barrie, Ball, along with others from the Hero Fund, realized that the song had "[…] obviously already touched a lot of people."[11]


"First day sales at iTunes went very well and we even hit #3 on the Rock charts, so thanks to everyone who bought the single!"
― Blog post by The Trews on their official website, from May 20, 2010 [src]

In May 2010, "Highway of Heroes" achieved instant success when it was initially released in the Canadian iTunes store, reaching #3 on the iTunes Rock Chart within two days of its release.[4] Also, following its digital release the song peaked at #61 on the Canadian Hot 100 chart, one of the most popular song charts in Canada.[14] With the physical release of the CD single on July 20, 2010, "Highway of Heroes" again witnessed success by peaking at #2 on the Canadian Singles Top 20, a chart which tracks and records the sales of the most popular music singles across Canada.[15]

Canadian Hero Fund

"Afterward, we further felt compelled to do something with it that might benefit those who serve and those they leave behind. The Canadian Hero Fund was the most natural place to direct the proceeds."
― John-Angus MacDonald, commenting on The Trews' decision to donate proceeds to the Canadian Hero Fund [src]

With the release of the CD single "Highway of Heroes", The Trews made the decision to donate all funds (net sales) from both the physical[4] and digital sales of "Highway of Heroes" to the Canadian Hero Fund.[2] The Canadian Hero Fund is a charitable organization which is dedicated to supporting Canadian Forces members and their families.[16]

Credits and personnel

Chart performance

Charts (2010) Peak position
Canadian Active Rock[18] 3[19]
Canadian Hot 100[14] 61[14]
Canadian SINGLES: Top 20[20][15] 2[20][15]
Canadian Songs Chart[21] 28[21]
iTunes Rock Charts[22] 3[22]


(NOTE: the lyrics below have been reproduced from the CD jacket for "Highway of Heroes". Slight changes may be present in the way that the actual song is performed by The Trews.)

CD jacket page showing the lyrics for "Highway of Heroes"

The day I shipped out
They numbered a dozen
Upon my return
Were a hundred or so
From the coast and the prairies
I bet they keep coming
Add one more name from Ontario

Carry me home on the Highway of Heroes
People above with their flags flying low
Carry me softly down the Highway of Heroes
True Patriot Love, there was never more

I served with distinction
No visions of glory
I served without question of personal gain
Seek no justification, it's not part of my story
And it offers no comfort to the ones who remain

Carry me home on the Highway of Heroes
People above with their flags flying low
Carry me softly down the Highway of Heroes
True Patriot Love, there was never more

I took up my vocation
I was called by my nation
Without hesitation
My answer I gave
Now I am not wondering
The things that I might have been
Are no consolation to the forgotten brave

Carry me home on the Highway of Heroes
People above with their flags flying low
Carry me softly down the Highway of Heroes
True Patriot Love, there was never more

Notes and references

  1. 1.0 1.1 "The Trews release song for Canadian soldiers", retrieved from arts.nationalpost.com; URL accessed August 4, 2010
  2. 2.00 2.01 2.02 2.03 2.04 2.05 2.06 2.07 2.08 2.09 2.10 2.11 2.12 "Highway of Heroes" Compact Disc (CD) jacket
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 "Highway of Heroes - Single", The Trews, retrieved from itunes.apple.com/ca/; URL accessed August 3, 2010
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 "Highway Of Heroes Available In Stores Today", retrieved from thetrewsmusic.com; URL accessed August 1, 2010
  5. "Hwy. 401 Will Be Renamed 'Highway Of Heroes' To Honour Soldiers", retrieved from citytv.com; URL accessed August 1, 2010
  6. "The Trews - Highway Of Heroes" music video information, retrieved from muchmusic.com; URL accessed August 4, 2010
  7. 7.0 7.1 Music video for "Highway of Heroes" by The Trews
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 8.3 "Highway of Heroes Video", blog posted on Friday, May 14, 2010 by Colin MacDonald, retrieved from blogs.myspace.com/thetrews; URL accessed August 4, 2010
  9. "Highway of Heroes" by The Trews", posted at www.blog.dutyandvalour.com
  10. 10.0 10.1 Comments for the YouTube video "The Trews - Highway of Heroes", retrieved from youtube.com; URL accessed August 5, 2010
  11. 11.0 11.1 "Song honours travellers on Highway of Heroes" by Don Peat, retrieved from torontosun.com; URL accessed August 5, 2010
  12. Screen shot of YouTube video "The Trews - Highway of Heroes" showing the number of viewers as of August 5, 2010
  13. "The Trews: Canadian Rock & Rollers Honor Fallen Hero" by Christian Toto, retrieved from bighollywood.breitbart.com; URL accessed August 5, 2010
  14. 14.0 14.1 14.2 "The Trews - Highway Of Heroes" chart information, retrieved from acharts.us; URL accessed August 4, 2010
  15. 15.0 15.1 15.2 Screen shot of the Canadian Singles Top 20 as of August 5, 2010
  16. "Canadian Hero Fund", retrieved from herofund.ca; URL accessed August 1, 2010
  17. 17.0 17.1 17.2 17.3 "Biography: The story of Acoustic - Friends & Total Strangers", retrieved from thetrewsmusic.com; URL accessed August 4, 2010
  18. "Thank You For The Support On Highway Of Heroes", retrieved from thetrewsmusic.com; URL accessed August 4, 2010
  19. "The Trews: Thank you for the support on Highway Of Heroes" posted by The Trews via their official Facebook page, retrieved from facebook.com; URL accessed August 4, 2010
  20. 20.0 20.1 "Nielsen SoundScan Charts: SINGLES Top 20" for the week ending 22 JULY, 2010, retrieved from jam.canoe.ca; URL accessed August 4, 2010
  21. 21.0 21.1 "Canadian Songs Chart - Wednesday, 19th May 2010", retrieved from itunescharts.net; URL accessed August 4, 2010
  22. 22.0 22.1 "The Trews, Stirring Hearts", Posted by Li Robbins on 4 June 2010 at 3:00 AM, retrieved from cbc.ca; URL accessed August 4, 2010

See also

External links