The Maggie (Lehr and Best)
(Loss Of The Maggie And 13 Souls In St John's Harbour)

Ye fishermen who know so well
the dangers of the deep,
Come listen to a dreadful tale
and join your tears to weep,
The loss of the schooner Maggie
and thirteen precious lives,
Which leaves so many homes bereaved
of husbands, sons, and wives.

At ten forenoon, November fifth,
the Maggie sailed away
From happy homes near Brooklyn
in Bonavista Bay.
Light winds did waft her on her course,
light-hearted was her crew;
That Friday evening off the narrows
the city came in view.

Our hopes runned high,
our hearts feeled glad
we soon should reach the shore
And turn to cash the fruits
of toils upon the Labrador.
The city lights they seemed
to greet and welcome us to town,
When Captain Blundon cried:
'My boys, there's a steamer bearing down.'

Straight unrelenting monster fierce
she seeked her prey to get;
She bore straight on us but we hoped
her course would alter yet.
We shouted loud in wild despair,
at late an awful crash;
Next moment o'er our shattered craft
the angry waves did dash.

The scene that followed then,
oh God, 'tis branded on my brain;
O rather would I join the drowned
than witness it again.
When shrieks heart-rending pierced the air,
a desperate fight for life;
A brother saw a brother drown,
a husband saw a wife.

Of twenty-three who left their homes
upon that fatal morn,
Thirteen of them are hushed in death
and never can return.
The name of the steamer Tiber
will fall in days to come
On the ears of the Brooklyn people
like the sound of a funeral drum.

####.... Author unknown. Original Newfoundland ballad ....####
Collected in 1976 by Genevieve Lehr and Anita Best from Moses (Uncle Mose) Harris [1911-?] of Lethbridge, Bonavista Bay, NL, and published as #70 in Come And I Will Sing You: A Newfoundland Songbook, pp.122-123, edited by Genevieve Lehr (University of Toronto Press ©1985/2003).

Genevieve Lehr noted that in 1896 the schooner Maggie, Captain Blundon in command, left Brooklyn, Bonavista Bay, on a passage to St John's. She was cut down in St John's Narrows on November 5th by the SS Tiber. 13 out of 23 on board lost their lives.

See more Lehr and Best songs.

A very similar variant was printed in 1905 as Loss Of The Maggie And 13 Souls In St John's Harbour on pp.3-5 of Murphy's Sealers' Song Book published by James Murphy [1867-1931] in St John's.

In 1960 MacEdward Leach collected a variant published as #80, The Wreck of The Maggie, in Folk Ballads And Songs Of The Lower Labrador Coast by the National Museum of Canada (Ottawa, 1965) Crown Copyrights Reserved.

A variant was also published as The Wreck Of The Maggie, by Shannon Ryan and Larry Small in Haulin' Rope & Gaff: Songs And Poetry In The History Of The Newfoundland Seal Fishery, pp.42-43 (Breakwater Books Limited, St John's, NL, 1978).

According to the Northern Shipwrecks DataBase - The Maggie sank November 7, 1896, after colliding with the SS Tiber in St John's Harbour.

Note: A quick look at a calendar for 1896 reveals it was a Thursday when the Maggie left Brooklyn, NL, "at ten forenoon, November 5th." Therefore, November 6th was "that Friday evening off the narrows the city came in view." The lights of the city of St John's were on so it was already after dark when Captain Blundon cried: "My boys, there's a steamer bearing down." The Northern Shipwrecks DataBase would then be correct in recording that "the Maggie sank November 7, 1896," which logically could have been anywhere from three to 27 hours after the actual collision. ~ GEST

See more NL shipwreck songs.


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