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Allan Michael Kirby



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Albertan Nola Kirby's father, Allan Michael Kirby, was a yodeler, singer, songwriter, radio personality, and performer known as "The Black Ace—Yodellin' Hitch Hiker."

In 2015, she produced an album of his work, which you can read about below:

She tells his story at here, at the Calgary Stampede site, from which these comments are excerpted:

Allan M. Kirby of Richdale, Alberta began his career in the 1930s, travelling throughout Western Canada, with his guitar, harmonica, mouth harp, and autoharpsinging and playing at rodeos, theatres, the Great Canadian Barn Dance, western events, and at the Calgary Stampede.

He also broadcasted his talents on these radio stations: CFCN, CFAC, and CJCJ in Calgary, Alberta. His fan mail came from all over the world, ladies who wanted a photograph, men who enjoyed his stories by song, and children who wanted to ride the rails.

Allan performed at the Calgary Stampede—each year singing and playing his instruments for all to hear—from the CFAC tower to the free pancake breakfasts around town to the square dancing on Main Street. His music and talents were appreciated by all those that visited Calgary just to be a part of the Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth—The Calgary Stampede.

Allan, also known as "Mick," "Blackie," or "Ace" by his friends and co-workers, enjoyed the wide variety of friends that he had the pleasure of knowing: Guy Weadick, Dick Cosgrave, Ernie McCulloch, Will Taylor, and Herman and Warner Linder to name a few. Allan very much enjoyed spending his weekends with the families of the Chuckwagon community.

On May 26th, 1939 "The Black Ace" had the honour of performing for the King and Queen of England [King George VI and Queen Elizabeth] during their royal tour visit to the Calgary Stampede.

Allan was a devoted son, father, and husband.

He continued to be a part of “The Greatest Show On Earth” up to his untimely death in 1972.

(May 10, 1914 — May 27, 1972)



Jeff Campbell's "Ode to The Black Ace"


The Black Ace—The Yodellin' Hitch Hiker  CD

photo courtesy of Nola Kirby; reproduction without permission prohibited

Some of the information in this feature was originally posted in Picture the West, on May 14, 2012.


Land of My Childhood Dreams

Broken Dreams of My Sweetheart

Canyon Blues

Hobo's Heartbreak

Gunswift Ranger

Land of My Childhood Dreams

One ev'ning as the sun was setting
And the sky was patched with gold
A rider rode out from the valley
And asked me his hoss to hold

With a leap he sprang from his pony
Not far from a crystal stream
Head to the west he said over there
Is the land of my Childhood Dream (yodel)

Where all the cowboys are yodelling
At nite while they're riding herd,
Strumming guitars they are happy & free
In the valleys the echoes are heard

There cattle are always contented
No fences to bar from the stream
If only you knew how I miss that place
The land of my Childhood Dream (yodel)

There's a small shack stands on the prairies
Standing forlorn & alone
Inside there's a mother whose pining
Just wanting her boy to come home,

With a tear in his eye he drifted,
Away from that crystal stream
I knew he was off, by the look on his face
To the land of his Childhood Dream (yodel)

© Allan M. Kirby, "The Black Ace Yodellin' Hitch Hiker"
These words may not be reprinted or reposted without permission.


The handwritten lyrics by Allan M. Kirby, "The Black Ace Yodellin' Hitch Hiker"

Broken Dreams of My Sweetheart

Tonight I dream of my sweetheart,
I can almost hear her say
Oh the nites will be blue, while away from you
And I'm waitin' for our meeting day.

Waiting for our meeting day love
Why is it time rolls so slow
I can hardly wait, till I hear that gate
Swing as you come , but never to go.

Beneath this pine tree we once sat
Hand in hand as lovers do
I'm so lonely tonite, just to cuddle tight,
To my long lost gal who's lonely too.

Softly I can hear a whisper
In the air tho it is still
Near a timid breeze, sighing thro the leaves
Seems to say, I'm coming back, I will.

Mellow moon above is smiling
Down upon me lonely here
How I wish you'd return, ne'er would I yearn
For a little girl to me so dear

Broken now the dream of my heart
for a letter I've just had,
and this letter it reads that my sweetheart's dead
shattered is my heart for I'm so sad.

© Allan M. Kirby, "The Black Ace Yodellin' Hitch Hiker"
These words may not be reprinted or reposted without permission.

Canyon Blues

Ridin' thru' the canyon
Gazin' all around
Nothin' there but Rockies
And cactus on the ground.

Boulder's gray and granite
Blazin' by the sun
Creepin' to their shadows
The snakes slide one by one.

Pony's mighty careful
Canyon makes him shy
I can't say I blame him
When canyon coyote's cry.

I ain't takin' chances
Mountain lions prowl
Canyon blues sure get me
When I here them howl.

Ridin' by the river
River now bone dry
Cattle bones are bleachin'
What tragic days gone by.

Lonely old blue canyon
Happy now I'm thru'
Heading to the westward
I've lost my canyon blues.

© Allan M. Kirby, "The Black Ace Yodellin' Hitch Hiker"
These words may not be reprinted or reposted without permission.


Hobo's Heartbreak

When I hear a whistle blowing
the blood springs in my veins,
I think of other days gone by
When I too rode the trains.

When I was yet a youngster
I hoboed day by day,
Until one day I saw my fault
Oh, hear me what I say.

My pal and I were going home
To see our folks once more,
We swore that we would ne'er more roam
From fireside or door.

Behind the boxcars row on row
We found an Eastbound freight,
Said Cliff - she'll pull right soon I know
I hope she won't be late.

Oh who could guess what was to come
Not either of us two,
And from the cold our hands were numb
There's nothing one can do.

At last we heard the highball go
We jumped her with a cheer,
Next thing it seems my chum let go
My heart was bound with fear.

Beneath the ears I saw him fall
From mine I sprang off clear,
The wheels were passing o'er my pal
I couldn't dare go near.

At last the train left us alone
I hurried to his side,
To me these last words he did moan
Before the poor boy died.

Tell Ma & Dad to not forget
I wanted to come home,
And tell them both they must not fret
For I no more will roam.

God bless them both and you dear chum
The last words that he said,
I held his hand to help him some
I knew my pal was dead.

Oh fate it seems, you are so cruel
You crush us at a blow,
Death is your joke, and we the fool
No mercy do you show.

Young fellows you should not forget
But leave the freights alone,
Or else someday you may regret
In sorrows of your own.

© Allan M. Kirby, "The Black Ace Yodellin' Hitch Hiker"
These words may not be reprinted or reposted without permission.


The handwritten lyrics by Allan M. Kirby, "The Black Ace Yodellin' Hitch Hiker"

Gunswift Ranger

In a forest by a lakeshore, oh, there winds a narrow trail,
Overgrown by bush & bramble, Thereby comes this Ranger's tale.

Come a ranger on a paint hoss, saddle worn & weary too,
Chanced upon this lonely pathway, That he " I'll follow it thru ".

So his pinto headed inward, on that path among the trees,
Then the smell of bacon frying, come upon a nite - time breeze.

In a moment at a clearing, the trail it ended there,
While around a cherry campfire, Four men sat within it's glare.

They were laughing to each other, How they would rob the mail,
Never dreaming that a Ranger, grimly told himself they'd fail.

Then for action he was ready, With guns tied to his thighs,
And hands upon their draw worn butts, Told the four to reach for sky!

But those gunmens went for sixguns, For fear was in their mind
All hoping that a lucky shot, Their attacker soon would find.

With guns ablaze the Ranger soon, Had three men on the ground,
One hanging arm, One blazing gun, The fourth man soon was found.

He stood his ground, back to a tree, Gun blazing in his hand,
The ranger shot with deadly aim, the Outlaw lost the stand.

The ranger by the campfire then, Tied up his bloody arm,
Smiling grimly to his paint hoss, Said " They'll cause no harm!"

Next he turned old paint to grazing, Then ate the outlaw chuck,
Laid on his tarp, face to the stars, And thanked them for his luck !!!

© Allan M. Kirby, "The Black Ace Yodellin' Hitch Hiker"
These words may not be reprinted or reposted without permission.


The handwritten lyrics by Allan M. Kirby, "The Black Ace Yodellin' Hitch Hiker"


  In February, 2016, Jeff Campbell wrote: 

I recently received the CD The Black Ace-Yodellin’ Hitchhiker. Nola Kirby, daughter of the Black Ace, Allan Kirby (1914-1972) has assembled an excellent collection of her father’s work. The CD is compiled of original recordings and interpretations by contemporary artists.

I work in Historic Preservation and people to tend to think of Historic Preservation as buildings; brick and mortar and wood and nails. However it’s more than that, it’s our songs, stories, poems, recipes and traditions. Preserving the past for today and future generations.

This poem is a tribute to Nola and her father.

Ode to The Black Ace

Across western Canada
Harmonica and guitar
Traveling to the next show
Whether it was near or far

The Great Canadian Barn Dance
A theater or rodeo
Even wireless transmissions
On Calgary radio

His name was Allan Kirby
The Black Ace of the west
Yodellin’ and a singin’
It’s what he did the best

From rural prairie families
To England’s Queen and King
Many had the good fortune
Of hearin’ the Black Ace sing

He sang about the railroads
And the ole Alberta moon
About Cowboys and Hobos
And of Love that’s lost too soon

The Big Calgary Stampede
That’s where he made his name
Playing the pancake breakfast
And the square dances on Main

Folks ask how I know this
The stories about this man
I’m just a Cracker Cowboy
I never been past Cheyenne

Its cause someone took the time
To collect his prose and songs
Preserve them for the future
From a time that’s past and gone

I tip my hat to his daughter
For this caring heartfelt chore
And because of her hard work
The Black Ace rides forevermore

© 2015, Jeffrey Campbell
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.




photo courtesy of Nola Kirby; reproduction without permission prohibited
Calgary Stampede

photo courtesy of Nola Kirby; reproduction without permission prohibited
Calgary Stampede

photo courtesy of Nola Kirby; reproduction without permission prohibited


photo courtesy of Nola Kirby; reproduction without permission prohibited

photo courtesy of Nola Kirby; reproduction without permission prohibited

The Black Ace—The Yodellin' Hitch Hiker  CD



(all lyrics are by The Black Ace; some are sung and recited by others)

Nola's Introduction by Nola Kirby
B'ar Huntin' performed by the Black Ace
Freight Train performed by The Black Ace
Yodellin' Hitch Hiker performed by Vic Anderson
Buddy's Introduction by Buddy Gale
Hillbilly Mountain Home performed by Buddy Gale
Mother's Straw Hat performed by Buddy Gale
The Lonely Guitar performed by Dry Town Drifters
Hobo's Hardship performed by Buddy Gale
Old Moon of Alberta performed by Buddy Gale
Canyon Blues performed by Two Bit Cowboys
Pleasant Valley performed by Buddy Gale
B'ar Huntin' Reprise performed by Harold Roy Miller
Winter Rangeland performed by Buddy Gale
Yodellin' Cowboy's Last Yodel performed by Vic Anderson
Cowboy's Last Range in the Sky performed by Buddy Gale
Black Ace Yodeller by Buddy Gale

Nola Kirby makes a valuable contribution to the preservation of Western music history and creates a lasting tribute to her father in The Black Ace—Yodellin' Hitch Hiker. The CD is the result of years of research.

Nola Kirby has produced a collection of her father's works, presented in his voice in vintage recordings and by contemporary artists reading or singing the lyrics from the songbooks of Allan M. Kirby. The result does justice to her efforts and to her father's talents.

The Black Ace—Yodellin' Hitch Hiker CD is available for $25 ppd (money order or certified check only) payable to Marie Kirby, Box 368, Magrath, Alberta, CA T0K 1J0 theblackace@shaw.ca.




Nola Kirby is the Founder and Director of the Bless the Animals Foundation.





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