The Drunken Captain (MacEdward Leach) video

Also see: In Canso Strait (Helen Creighton)
#2466: YouTube video by Dennis Kendell
©2015 ~ Used with permission ~

Homeward bound across the sea,
When a drunken captain got on a spree;
He came on board and to us did say,
Get your anchors ready and we'll put to sea.

We got all things ready by his command,
As the wind blew freely we left the land;
We left Cape Pine all on our lee,
And we swung her off in a heavy sea.

Down came a squall from the angry sky,
Our ship she's sinking and her decks can't rise;
We asked our captain to shorten sail,
Or we'll all be lost in this heavy gale.

He wrang his hands and he tore his hair,
Saying, when I am captain you need not fear;
While I am captain you need not fear,
I'll shoot the first man that interferes,

Up speaks one of our noble men,
Saying there's twelve of us on her deck to stand;
We all reef her down to the sea's we'll go,
If you interfere you'll be tied below.

We reefed her down against his will,
As the wind blew freely her sails kept filled;
She's heading down for the cape shore now,
And she's driving the white foam from her bow.

It's homeward bound in deep distress,
Like a white seagull as she seeks her nest;
If I gets on shore no more I'll sail,
With a drunken captain in a heavy gale.

####.... Variant of a North American ballad, In Canso Strait [Laws D52d] Native American Balladry, Appendix II (G Malcolm Laws, 1964) ....####
This variant was sung in 1950 by Martin Reddigan [1903-1980] of Calvert, NL, and published in MacEdward Leach And The Songs Of Atlantic Canada © 2004 Memorial University of Newfoundland Folklore and Language Archive (MUNFLA).

A variant was also collected by Kenneth Peacock in 1958 from Levi Everett Bennett [1899-?] of St Paul's, NL, and published in Songs Of The Newfoundland Outports, Volume 3, pp.871-872, by the National Museum of Canada (1965) Crown Copyrights Reserved.

A variant was also published for the 1980 Merasheen Reunion in Placentia Bay, NL, by Loyola Pomroy and William (Bill) Wilson Jr [1931-1993] of Meerasheen, Placentia Bay, NL.

Another variant was collected in 1943 from Richard Hartlan of South-East Passage, NS, by Helen Creighton [1899-1989] and published as In Canso Strait in Songs And Ballads From Nova Scotia (Dent, 1932; Dover, 1966).

A variant was also collected in 1983 from Pius Power, Jr [1944-1996] of South East Bight, NL, by Genevieve Lehr and Anita Best and published as #31 in Come And I Will Sing You: A Newfoundland Songbook, pp.52-53, edited by Genevieve Lehr (University of Toronto Press © 1985/2003).

Genevieve Lehr noted that this song is also known in Nova Scotia as Canso Strait with the following first verse:

In Canso Strait our vessel lay
We just arrived in from the bay,
Our vessel built both stout and strong
To Gloucester she does belong.

Genevieve Lehr then noted that the song would appear to have been composed in Newfoundland, but could very well have been written in Nova Scotia.

See more songs by Lehr and Best

The video above features a recording by "Me & Him" - Dennis Kendell and Con Parsons (Memories Of The Sea, trk#5, Sawyer Hill, 1990).


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