1929 Tidal Wave (F Herridge/M T Wall)
See also: The Tidal Wave (Rosalee Peppard)
And also: Tidal Wave At Burin (MacEdward Leach)

November eighteenth in nineteen twenty-nine,
On Newfoundland's south coast the weather was fine;
The people were busy with everyday chores,
Not knowing the danger that fate held in store.
Then out on the Grand Banks an earthquake occurred,
The earth shook and trembled, the ocean was stirred;
Just seven-point-two on the old Richter scale,
The damage it caused is a very sad tale.

We'll always remember, in story and rhyme,
The Newfoundland tidal wave of twenty-nine.

Later that night, as the story unfolds,
The water went out of the harbours and coves;
While out on the Grand Banks, the sea gathered force,
Till it struck the land, keeping straight on its course.
The first wave came in with a thunderous roar,
In anger and fury it lashed at the shore;
A thirty-foot monster with vengeance in mind.
And when it retreated, two more came behind.

The horrified people now shook in their boots,
As hundreds of buildings were torn from their roots;
They scrambled for safety through the windows and doors,
As houses were flooded far in from the shore.
The last wave grew quiet, the moon it was bright,
The sea became calm but it was a sad sight;
The harbours were filled with debris of all kinds,
As three killer waves left a shambles behind.

We'll always remember, in story and rhyme,
The Newfoundland tidal wave of twenty-nine.

The ocean demanded, humanity gave,
For thirty-six lives had been claimed by the waves;
With twenty-six schooners and one hundred boats,
And all counted losses with lumps in their throats.
From down around Burin, up to Lamaline,
They'd never forget the destruction they'd seen;
As nature unleashed, like a wild beast deprived,
In fifteen short minutes had changed all their lives.

We'll always remember, in story and rhyme,
The Newfoundland tidal wave of twenty-nine.

####.... Fay Herridge/Michael T Wall, 1998. Performance rights administered by SOCAN. All rights reserved. ....####
Printed in The Southern Gazette.

See more songs by Michael T Wall.

Notes from Earthquake Canada: On November 18, 1929, at 5:02 pm Newfoundland time, a major earthquake occurred approximately 250 kilometres south of Newfoundland along the southern edge of the Grand Banks. This magnitude 7.2 tremor was felt as far away as New York and Montreal. On land, damage due to earthquake vibrations was limited to Cape Breton Island where chimneys were overthrown or cracked and where some highways were blocked by minor landslides. A few aftershocks were felt in Nova Scotia and Newfoundland but caused no damage.

The earthquake triggered a large submarine slump (an estimated volume of 200 cubic kilometres of material was moved on the Laurentian slope) which ruptured 12 transatlantic cables in multiple places. The tsunami was recorded along the eastern seaboard as far south as South Carolina and across the Atlantic Ocean in Portugal.

Approximately 2 1/2 hours after the earthquake the tsunami struck the southern end of the Burin Peninsula in Newfoundland as three main pulses, causing local sea levels to rise between 2 and 7 metres. At the heads of several of the long narrow bays on the Burin Peninsula the momentum of the tsunami carried water as high as 27 metres. This giant sea wave claimed a total of 28 lives - 27 drowned on the Burin peninsula and a young girl never recovered from her injuries and died in 1933. More than 40 local villages in southern Newfoundland were affected, where numerous homes, ships, businesses, livestock and fishing gear were destroyed. Also lost were more than 280,000 pounds of salt cod. Total property losses were estimated at more than $1 million 1929 dollars (estimated as nearly $20 million 2004 dollars). This represents Canada's largest documented loss of life directly related to an earthquake (although oral traditions of First Nations people record that an entire coastal village was completely destroyed by the tsunami generated by the year 1700 magnitude 9 Cascadia earthquake off the coast of British Columbia).


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