Bank Fishermen #2 (MacEdward Leach)

See also: Bank Fishermen #1 (MacEdward Leach)

Ye landsmen and ye seamen all,
come listen to what I write,
In crossing over those stormy seas
I always took delight;
As we were running before the wind
in a banker good and new,
She carried six Shelburne dories
and a Nova Scotia crew.

We reached the Bay of Islands
to the westward of Newfoundland,
The Peerless bein' our vessel's name,
Dan Reader in Command;
We took on board our trip of bait
and shook out every sail,
And for the Banks then skimmed along
before a Nor'west gale

We reached the Banks on Wednesday
and gave her cable all,
And quickily the dories lowered
for to set out our trawl;
And suddenly a storm came on
and boiling foam did churn,
Those twelve brave hearty fishermen
no more will they return.

The captain cruised about for days
in hopes to pick them up,
And, no sign of his missing men,
for Newfoundland bore up;
The dories in the storm capsized
they sank to rise no more,
Those twelve brave hearty fishermen
from Nova Scotia's shore.

May God, the ruler of the land,
the tempest, and the deep,
Make light the sorrows of the poor
and those who are left to weep;
And may they see a happier land
most fervently we pray,
Those twelve brave hearty fishermen
that lost their lives that day.

####.... Author unknown. Traditional American ballad ....####
Sung by Peter T Molloy [1876-?] of St Shott's, NL, and published without a title as The _____ Song in MacEdward Leach And The Songs Of Atlantic Canada © 2004 Memorial University of Newfoundland Folklore and Language Archive (MUNFLA).

A variant was sung by Nicholas (Nick) Paddy Maher [1893-?] of Flatrock, NL, and published as Bank Fishermen in MacEdward Leach And The Songs Of Atlantic Canada © 2004 Memorial University of Newfoundland Folklore and Language Archive (MUNFLA).

From the Dictionary of Newfoundland English:
Banker - ¹ vessel engaged in cod-fishing on the Newfoundland offshore grounds, especially the Grand Banks; ² fisherman engaged in the offshore or 'bank' fishery; ³ owner or operator of an offshore fishing vessel.
Cable - strong thick anchor rope.
Trawl - buoyed line, of great length, to which short lines with baited hooks are attached at intervals.
Trip - total catch taken during a single voyage; cargo; the proceeds of the catch.


The Shelburne Dory - For almost 100 years the dory was the most popular small craft in the Atlantic Provinces. Beginning in the 1850s it became an integral part of the offshore fishery, especially on the Grand Banks of Newfoundland. Usually built with a bottom length of 12 to 16 feet, a dory could carry two men equipped with bait and fishing gear for hand-lining or trawl fishing.

The Banks Dory, as it became known, was ideally suited for use aboard fishing schooners. It was lightweight but strongly built, an important feature since the dory had to be hoisted and lowered from the schooner, often with the equipment and day's catch still in the dory. Once aboard the schooner, the removable thwarts or seats allowed it to be nested on top of other dories to save space on deck. In the water, the flat-bottomed dory was difficult to handle when not loaded, however, laden with fishing gear it became more stable and rowed or sailed very easily.

Although dories were built in a variety of locations throughout Nova Scotia, two of the major centres of construction were Shelburne and Lunenburg. Despite their relatively close proximity, two different methods of construction evolved, resulting in two distinct types of dories. The most obvious difference was the use of a metal clip in the Shelburne Dory to join the floor frame to the side frame. Invented by Isaac Crowell in 1887, it made the Shelburne dory easier to build. In contrast, the Lunenburg dory was built using a piece of naturally curved wood of grown knees to form the frame. The merits of each dory, even today, are a subject of much discussion.

~ Courtesy of the J C Williams Dory Shop, now a museum operated by the Shelburne Historical Society and owned by the Nova Scotia Museum.


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