From the recording Ancestors' Eyes

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"Not long after moving to Canada I read a book about the legend of Prince Henry Sinclair. This Scottish adventurer traveled with an Italian navigator named Antonio Zeno, and a party of two hundred men from the Orkney Islands in Scotland to Guysborough Nova Scotia in 1398 - 90 years before Columbus came to the shores of North America. From Nova Scotia, they explored the land and waterways traveling as far as Massachusetts. They came in peace and made no claims upon the lands of the Micmac Indians with whom they lived. Indeed, the legends of these native people recount their harmonious relations with the visiting Earl of Orkney. It may be that their peaceful approach to the new land and its people contributed to their being overlooked by the pages of history. I was fascinated by this story, perhaps because of my own journey across the Atlantic some 600 years later and wanted to write a song about the legend. The song "Prince Henry" was co-written with Kristi Magraw.

After it had been recorded, it was circulated amongst the Sinclair Clan and eventually made it overseas to the UK where it reached Niven Sinclair. Niven had devoted a lot of effort publicizing the adventurer's story and was so moved by the song he phoned me. After discussing the Sinclair story he drew attention to my own surname Leask and mentioned that there was a lot of Leask's on the Orkney Islands. He offered to search my own ancestry through his contacts on the island. I was absolutely flabbergasted when Niven faxed me evidence to show that a Thomas Leask was very close to Prince Henry and in all likelihood sailed with him to the new world. Niven concluded his fax by saying, "There's a reason you wrote this song, for what is born in the bone is not lost in the blood." It sent shivers down my spine and this experience of discovering my roots inspired the song "Ancestors' Eyes".

I found a dusty photo
With a black and white expression
Staring back at me
I knew his only grandson
Since he was my father
Who was this man to me?

I took a good look at life,
Through my ancestors' eyes
Learning from the wayward and the wise

I heard of one called Thomas
Who loved the open water
And longed to be at sea
He sailed out with Prince Henry
Sought a new horizon
And found a whole new world for me

I took a good look at life,
Through my ancestors' eyes
Learning from the wayward and the wise
I took a good look at life,
Through my ancestors' eyes
Looking back to where the future lies

I left my home and family
The safety of the harbour
And faced a lonely sea
Through all the storm and struggle
I found the kind of courage
That's been handed down to me

Looking, learning, loving through their eyes
Through ancestors' eyes
I found some dusty photos
I heard forgotten stories
All, all part of me

Written by David Leask, Mary Ellen Beatty © 1999 Jeddart Music