They say you never forget your first time. Benjamin Britten was 25 and fresh off the boat from England. A bit awkward at first, but he quickly got the hang of it. (We're of course talking about living in Canada.)

"It seems very odd to be this side of the Atlantic — & at the moment I’m feeling very strange & out of my depth! But we’ve found a good place up in the Laurentians — & have got a log-cabin at the side of the mountain overlooking the lake." —Britten, May 18, 1939.

The relationship moved fast and got pretty serious. Britten took to canoeing and mosquito swatting like a regular coureur de bois. And after just a few weeks, he considered making the living arrangements permanent.

"I’m thinking hard about the future. This may be the Country. There’s so much that is unknown about it — & it is tremendously large & beautiful. And it is enterprising & vital." —Britten, June 19, 1939.

In the end, it didn't work out. Britten and Canada decided to go their separate ways. Sure, they saw each other again a few times — but it was never quite the same as that first encounter during the spring of 1939.

Britten with producer John Adaskin at the CBC studios in Toronto. (Courtesy of CBC Still Photo Collection)

As the world celebrates the genius of this great composer, born exactly 100 years ago today, CBC Music invites you to discover more about Britten's Canada.

Photos of abandoned Gray Rocks Inn and the curious case of Benjamin Britten

Video: A Ceremony of Carols by Benjamin Britten

Benjamin Britten, Colin McPhee and Bali celebrated at Montreal world premiere

Benjamin Britten’s visit to Canada and U.S. inspired overtures

Benjamin Britten’s letters from Canada

Benjamin Britten on

Benjamin Britten on Twitter

posted by Scott Tresham on Nov 22, 2013