The Loss Of The Ellen Munn (Edith Fowke)

See also: The Loss Of The Ellen Munn
('Young' Jimmy Flynn)

Oh, it happened to be on Christmas Day,
'twas from King's Cove we sailed away,
As we were bound up to Goose Bay,
The Ellen to repair.
When we left the wind was down,
We headed her up for Newman's Sound,
The Ellen, my boys, she did lose ground,
Fell off for Little Denier.

The wind veered to the west-sou'west
And Barrow Harbour we could not fetch;
The gale grew blustering down the retch,
'twas near the close of day.
So to Dark Hole we ran her in,
And waited there for a half-free wind,
The twenty-seventh to begin,
Our anchors for to weigh.

Next morning then our hearts were light,
We ran her up for the standing ice,
Thinking that all things were right,
As you may understand.
Till from below there came a roar,
"There's water up to the cabin floor!"
The signals of distress did soar,
For help from off the land.

The men into the hold did make,
The women to the pumps did take,
In hopes that they might stop the leak,
And beach her in a trice.
But water still came tumbling in,
Against the flow we could not win;
The Skipper's voice rose o'er the din,
"All hands get on the ice!"

Now to our very sad mistake,
We found the ice was very weak;
We had to carry and to take,
The children to the ground.
Poor Tommy Rolland scratched his head,
"For God's sake, Skipper, save me bed!"
Immediately the words were said,
The Ellen she went down.

Early next morning we bid adieu,
To bring down Tommy Rolland's crew;
We landed them in Plate cove, too,
For to walk down the shore.
Repeating often he did say,
"I'll never be caught up in Goose Bay;
If I ever get out of it today
I'll trouble it no more."

Tom Holloway lives on Goose Bay shore,
His father and two brothers more,
All hardy men to ply an oar,
Westward that day did wend.
A pair of boots, a barrel of flour,
They salvaged working half an hour,
And leather for Joe Horney for
Susannah's boots to mend.

And now to close take this advice:
Don't ever trust the new-made ice;
'twill hold and squeeze you like a vise,
'twill shave your planks away,
Till finally they're cut so thin,
Through your seam the seas come in.
And when a sea voyage you begin,
Don't sail on Christmas Day.

####.... "Young" Jimmy Flynn, the skipper's son ....####

From History Of King's Cove, Chapter X, transcribed by Bill Crant, June, 2000, revised by Terry Piercey, Sept, 2002:
The Loss Of The Ellen Munn - in 1866 the Ellen Munn, of 60 tons, belonging to John Munn & Co, of Harbour Grace, left King's Cove on Christmas Day to go to Goose Bay, Bonavista Bay, where she was to be repaired during winter. Jimmy Flynn was skipper and had his family on board.
The loss of the Ellen Munn in the depth of winter, with the loss of all the winter supplies for two or more families, coupled with the dangers and hardships incident to the rescue, was not an episode to be treated lightly in these early days when the spectre of starvation was always dodging the pioneers' steps. "Young" Jimmy Flynn - the skipper's son - thought that the memory of the incident ought to be perpetuated. If he could string together in rhyming couples the dramatic facts of their narrow escape from a watery grave at a time when the rest of the world was giving itself up to Christmas gaiety, and improvise a suitable air for it, it would be sung at all the winter dances, and he himself may become the hero of the incident. So he set to work, and this is his account of this little episode of the past.

The above variant was published as The Loss Of The Ellen Munn in The Penguin Book Of Canadian Folk Songs (Edith Fowke, 1973).

Edith Fowke noted that this is quite a light-hearted treatment of a shipwreck - this time the ship was close enough to land so that no lives were lost. King's Cove and Plate Cove are on the east side of Bonavista Bay (Newfoundland); Little Denier is an island at the mouth of Newman Sound on the west side. The area is prone to wrecks: a village on the point is named Salvage.

Fowke's variant is markedly similar to a variant published on pg.6 of Old Time Songs and Poetry of Newfoundland: Songs Of The People From The Days Of Our Forefathers, 2nd Edition, 1940, printed by the publishers of The Family Fireside For Gerald S Doyle, St John's, NL.

See more NL shipwreck songs.


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