Loss Of The Schooner Susan On The Labrador (Traditional)

See also: The Susan (Lehr and Best)

Attention all ye fishermen,
and hark to what I say,
And hear about the sad, sad news
that we record today,
About four fine young fishermen,
their friends will see no more,
Who lost their lives at Cutthroat
on the rugged Labrador.

The Susan left in early Spring,
the fishery to pursue,
Supplied with boats and fishing gear,
manned by a hardy crew;
And friends did wish a fond adieu
as they sailed out that day,
From their homes in Bonaventure
at the head of Trinity Bay.

Their schooner named the Susan,
with a crew from Newfoundland,
Sailed out from Bonaventure,
Captain Miller in command;
And at her destination soon arrived
both strong and sound,
And soon their boats they had prepared
to try the fishing ground.

For when the voyage they did complete,
and soon for home did sail,
The schooner met disaster
in a heavy North East gale;
The heavy seas soon swept the craft
and rolled o'er hull and deck,
And four fine men from Trinity Bay
they went down with the wreck.

The news was soon flashed o'er the wires
to say she was no more,
To say the Susan foundered
on the wild, bleak Labrador;
But the saddest news of all to come
to fill hearts with dismay,
The loss of four young fishermen,
belong to Trinity Bay.

Most every year the same sad news
from fishermen we hear,
To fill their home with sadness
for the ones they love most dear;
May God their sorrows now make light,
the friends that's left to weep,
For those brave, hardy fishermen
now buried in the deep.

####.... Author unknown. Traditional Newfoundland ballad ....####
Published by Gerald S Doyle in Old-Time Songs And Poetry Of Newfoundland: Songs Of The People From The Days Of Our Forefathers, 1st Ed, p.51, 1927.

Gerald S Doyle noted that he was unable to find the exact date of the tragedy in these verses, but many readers would no doubt remember the occasion. The song, Doyle added, well illustrates the hardships and dangers faced by those who go down to the sea in ships.

A variant was also collected in 1977 from Phillip Pius Power, Sr [1912-1993] of South East Bight, NL, by Genevieve Lehr and Anita Best and published as #103, The Susan in Come And I Will Sing You: A Newfoundland Songbook, p.178, edited by Genevieve Lehr (University of Toronto Press © 1985/2003).

Genevieve Lehr noted Mr Power learned this song from his father when he was a child.

Cutthroat Island is quite small (about 2 miles by 4 miles in Division #10 Newfoundland and Labrador 53.210396, -64.466841) and is little more than a small mountain top sticking out of the North Atlantic. There are no trees, just rocks, grass, and scattered small shrubs. The north side of the island is a sheer cliff down to the ocean, very rocky and dangerous, unsafe for climbing, running or even walking very much. To the south it slopes down to the water. On the top of the island today are the remains of a helicopter pad and the foundation of a two-storey building which served as home and communications centre for approximately 45 US Air Force and civilian personnel employed at a Gap Filler complex of the Pinetree Line early warning radar system, detached from the 922nd Aircraft Control and Warning Squadron located at Cartwright, Labrador, from 1957 to 1961. There are also a few camps on the island which are only used by a summer fishing community. Cutthroat Harbour on the south side of the island is exposed to the south west but otherwise is a good anchorage.
~ Excerpted from a travel photography site assembled by Sue and Tony Wright, Toronto, ON, and on-line essays by Don Stensrud and Jim Heimburger, Memories of Cut Throat Island.

From the Dictionary Of Newfoundland English:
The Labrador - Atlantic coast of the Labrador Peninsula from Cape Chidley to the Strait of Belle Isle.

See more NL shipwreck songs.


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