The Caribou (MacEdward Leach)

See also: The SS Caribou (F Herridge/M T Wall)

And also: The SS Caribou (Traditional)

And also: Fate Of The Caribou (Barry Davis)

Come old and young, come rich and poor,
And listen to my song,
I hope I won't offend you,
I will not keep you long;
On the fourteenth day of October,
As you may understand,
The Caribou was torpedoed,
About twenty miles from land.

It happened in the morning,
'Twas just before daylight,
When those poor souls on board that ship,
They got an awful fright;
Without a word of warning,
To any of her crew,
When they saw it was the fatal end,
Of the SS Caribou.

Poor helpless children on that ship,
Of which there were fourteen,
And men and women besides them,
All in a terrible scream;
To see those cold dark waters,
To which they all must face,
They tried to keep their courage up,
In such an awful case.

Some swum for boats and life rafts,
Whatever they could find,
While others in the water,
To face that cold, cold brine;
They tried to help each other,
Like all of us would do,
And watched the last departure,
Of the SS Caribou.

That morning here at Channel,
Was one we'll ne'er forget,
To see those sickened mothers,
And orphans cry and fret;
To see those widows and sweethearts,
They cried, what shall we do,
But she'll never, never sail again,
That good ship Caribou.

Among the bodies were brought in,
I can't tell everyone,
But sadly I will mention,
The captain and his two sons;
They were brought in in the evening,
As soon as they were found,
We sent their mother our sympathy,
From everyone around.

The funeral was the largest,
That ever was known here,
To see them lay the bodies down,
Each eye was filled with tears;
May God, all in his greatness,
Have mercy on them all,
And may they all be ready,
To answer to his call.

To tell you all that perished,
I'm sure I can't tell right,
But mostly to a harbour,
It was a sad, sad plight;
And most of her brave hearty crew,
Belonged to Port aux Basques,
Who crossed those stormy waters,
They so many times have passed.

To the people of this Island,
I know you'll understand,
What the SS Caribou really meant,
To dear old Newfoundland;
She crossed the ocean rough and smooth,
When in the hours of gloom,
But whoever thought the day would come,
When she would meet her tomb?

Now to conclude and finish,
I done my very best,
We'll leave the remains of the Caribou,
On the bottom for to rest;
And right to the Newfoundland Railway,
We all must bid adieu,
And think upon that awful day,
And the SS Caribou.

####.... Author unknown. Traditional Newfoundland song ....####

Sung by Francis (Ernest) Poole [1881-?] of Cape Ray, NL, and published in MacEdward Leach And The Songs Of Atlantic Canada, ©2004 Memorial University of Newfoundland Folklore and Language Archive (MUNFLA).

"In the early morning hours of Oct. 14, 1942, the passenger ferry that ran between Port aux Basques, NL, and North Sydney, NS, was attacked by the German submarine U-69. A torpedo ripped a hole in the vessel, sinking it and sending all aboard into the frigid waters of the Cabot Strait. There were 137 casualties in one of the most devastating sea disasters off the coast of Newfoundland. The HMCS Grandmere rescued 101 passengers, crew, and military personnel after hours in the freezing water. Many survivors reported huddling in what was left of the over-filled lifeboats or rafts, fearing for their safety, spending hours in the ocean clinging to some hope of rescue. The sinking was said to have erased the feelings of security that Newfoundlanders felt despite the war raging around the world."
~ Cory Hurley, Corner Brook Western Star, February 17, 2008.

See more NL shipwreck songs.


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