George Bunker (Kenneth Peacock)

Now, young and old,
I pray draw near and listen awhile to me,
While I relate the ditty
that happened in Forteau Bay,
Concerning of a banker
fitted out from Halifax,
Who parted with half of his fishing trawls
to pay up his summer's expense.

George Bunker being our captain's name,
it's a man ye all know well,
Belong to Nova Scotia,
a stout and a jolly man.
We round' her into the harbour
and a good time we did wait,
And then we weighed our anchors,
to Forteau we run straight.

We runned her into Forteau
to get what bait we could,
The lants they did not care about
or the squids they were no good;
The lants they did not care about
or the herring they would not mesh,
Till George Bunker saw something on shore
that he'd rather have than fish.

'Twas early the next morning,
George Bunker he went on shore,
He jolly soon kicked up a spree
all in the Jersey store.
Young Nellie being quite willing,
our captain for to obey,
'Twas there she stopped and gived him sense
with him she would sail away.

'Twas early the next morning,
George Bunker he went on shore,
Just like a man in trouble
he rolled from door to door,
Just like some village coachman
he stopped and he stayed about,
Till a dollar he give a little girl
to ask young Nellie out.

And when young Nellie did come out
he took her by the hand,
Saying, "On those roads we'll travel
and do the best we can."
They walked along together till
they came to a grassy place,
'Twas with her poisoned fingernails
she scratched our captain's face.
"Now, Nellie, lovely Nellie,
since you promised you would be mine,
Here's a present I will give to you,
a bottle of port wine."

The very neck-straps George Bunker wore
for he took off his sleeves,
He give them to young Nellie
and buckled them 'round her knees.
But little did young Nellie think
he were a married man,
When he promised he would marry her
and take her from the land.

'Twas early the next morning
George Bunker he went on board,
Saying, "If it's a-time to-morrow, b'ys,
I think we'll have a run;
We'll run as far as Belgimore(?)
and try to use our bait,
Then back again to Forteau,
for Nellie I must wait."

Come all you pretty fair maids,
a warning take by me,
Don't ever trust a banker,
nor anyone sails the sea;
They'll huddle you and they'll cuddle you
till they thinks you are inclined,
And then they'll go and leave you
away to the devil behind.

####.... Author unknown. Traditional Newfoundland Labrador ballad collected in 1958 by Kenneth Peacock from Arthur Nicolle [1900-1971] of Rocky Harbour, NL, and published in Songs Of The Newfoundland Outports, Volume 1, pp.192-193, by The National Museum Of Canada (1965) Crown Copyrights Reserved ....####

Kenneth Peacock noted that this ballad about a bank fisherman from Halifax appears to have been composed in Newfoundland, or perhaps Labrador. Forteau Bay is in southern Labrador just across the Strait of Belle Isle from Flower's Cove, Newfoundland. Peacock also noted that the word 'lants' in verse three refers to small fish used for bait. He added that he had never heard the term mentioned in Newfoundland and wondered if it might be an alternative word for capelin, as the Oxford Dictionary gave 'sable la(u)nce' as an alternative for capelin.

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.
Caplin (Capelin) - small, iridescent deep-water fish (Mallotus villosus) like a smelt which, followed by the cod, appears inshore during June and July to spawn along the beaches, and is netted for bait, for manuring the fields, or dried, salted, smoked, or frozen for eating.
Jersey store - mercantile firm or house from the Channel Islands engaged in fishing operations in Newfoundland and Labrador. Jersey is one of the inhabited Channel Islands which are a separate possession of the British Crown located between France and England in the English Channel. Rosemary E Ommer explains on pp.13-14 of her 1991 book, From Outpost To Outport (McGill University Press) that Jersey Islanders became involved with the Newfoundland fisheries in the late sixteenth century.


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