The Dole Song (MacEdward Leach)

Come all ye hardy fishermen
who work hard for a bite,
While toiling on the deep blue sea
morning, noon and night;
And those that get the profit
they are snuggled in the warmth,
Eating up the luxuries
which the fishermen have earned.

The reason we poor fishermen
don't get no more fair play,
Too many of those long coat chaps
are travelling 'round today;
And ask 'em for to help you, boys,
which makes it all the worse,
So if you want to try her, friends,
you'll have to try her first.

Commencing on the merchant,
it is hard for me to tell,
The way they rob the poor man,
you all know very well;
They'll carry away your earnings,
boys, and you they'll overthrow,
And ask them for to help you,
and they'll plainly answer, "No!"

We went to see a gentleman,
the man that rules the dole,
We asked him for white flour,
and he plainly answered, "No!"
We then did write a letter,
as you may understand,
Addressed to Sir John Hope Simpson,
the ruler in Newfoundland.

We stated our conditions,
boys, and likewise many more,
About those hungry people,
boys, here on the Labrador;
If every man could catch a fox
there would be none to breed,
And the way it is with customs,
boys, they think you have fox seed.

Likewise the tea and molasses
that you get with your bit of toast,
Next year 'twill be paid back again
by the taxes on your coast;
This year they taxed the people's dogs
to pay their polish next year,
To keep the buttons shining
on the Newfoundland Rangers here.

####.... Author unknown. Original Newfoundland song published as a broadside ....####

Collected in 1951 from George Hatfield [1865-?] of Tors Cove, NL, and published in MacEdward Leach And The Songs Of Atlantic Canada © 2004 Memorial University of Newfoundland Folklore and Language Archive (MUNFLA).

A dissimilar variant was collected by Genevieve Lehr and Anita Best in 1977 from John S (Jack) Lushman, Sr [1940-?] of Ramea, NL, and published as #30 in Come And I Will Sing You: A Newfoundland Songbook, pp.51-52, edited by Genevieve Lehr (University of Toronto Press © 1985/2003).

Genevieve Lehr noted that the indignity of having to go on the dole was endured by many a Newfoundland fisherman when fishing was exceptionally poor. Of course, the local merchant (as the song suggests) was often only interested in his own profit and had scant concern for the plight of the fishermen who depended on him for supplies to last the winter, and even sometimes for work.

See more songs by Lehr and Best

From Wikipedia:
Sir John Hope Simpson [1868-1961] was Commissioner of Natural Resources and Acting-Commissioner of Justice for the British-appointed Commission of Government of Newfoundland [1934-1936]. Port Hope Simpson, Newfoundland and Labrador was named after him in response to the backing he had given to John Osborn Williams and the Labrador Development Company, Ltd. The Company set-up a loggers' camp in Alexis Bay for cutting and exporting pitwood to Cardiff for the collieries of South Wales. Simpson also established the Newfoundland Rangers linking the people with the Commission as a welfare and police force.


Index Page
GEST Songs Of Newfoundland And Labrador


~ Copyright Info ~

~ Privacy Policy ~

Confirm Valid XHTML 1.0 Transitional Here