Labrador (Kenneth Peacock)

Come all you jolly fishermen
and listen to my song,
In language I'll explain to you,
it won't delay me long;
It's education I have none
and the grammar I don't use,
But if this don't suit the company
my own mind I will choose.

The Carey being our schooner's name
as you may understand,
With a crowd of brave young fishermen
brought up in Newfoundland;
Mike Coughlin being our skipper's name,
Sam Smithson being our mate,
And Harris being the owner
I'm sorry to relate.

It was on a Monday morning
we got her under way,
All to look for a baiting
down in Conception Bay;
We understood in Burin,
we took our bait in there,
And when we arrived in Holyrood
twenty thousand was our share.

So when we arrived in Carbonear
our skipper he went on shore,
For to see the girl he was going with
when he was there before;
Two men all in a motorboat
they came out from the shore,
They told us that the fish was dry
down on the Labrador.

Early next morning
we got her under way,
For three long days and three long nights
we beat out of the Bay;
For three long days and three long nights
we beat the Southern Shore,
And we swore to God we'd never live
to see old Labrador.

Early next morning
so loud our cook did shout,
"Heave out and get your breakfast,
b'ys, he's going to toss you out."
We worked and sawed those cod-jiggers b'ys,
until our hands got sore,
Which made us curse the first man b'ys,
that sailed on the Labrador.

What a foolish understanding b'ys,
for any man to do,
To take a load of cod-jiggers b'ys,
to supply a banker's crew;
If we'd took a load of otter traps, b'ys,
leaved our cod-jiggers on shore,
We'd have stood a chance for b'ys,
a load of fur down on the Labrador.

####.... Author unknown. Traditional Newfoundland song ....####
Collected by Kenneth Peacock in 1959 from Kenneth Pink [1938-?] of Rose Blanche, NL, and published in Songs Of The Newfoundland Outports, Volume 1, pp.138-139, by the National Museum Of Canada (1965) Crown Copyrights Reserved.

Kenneth Peacock noted that in the 1960s jigging for cod had become a favourite tourist adventure. The double-hooked cod jigger is not baited, but the fish become curious by the up and down 'sawing' action just the same and may come to 'sniff' it or brush past it with their bodies. It is at this moment that the alert fisherman jerks the line and impales the fish, a fish-by-fish method which is much slower than the large-scale methods of the banker. This is why the author of the song is complaining about the foolish owner who supplied the crew only with cod-jiggers.

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.


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