The Sealers Strike Of 1902 (Johnny Burke)

See also: The Luck Went With The Sealers (Johnny Burke)

Attention, all ye fishermen,
and read this ballad down,
And hear about the sealers strike
the other day in town;
When full three thousand northern men
did walk the streets all day,
With cool determined faces
they strike out to get fair play.

Each steamers crew did fall in line,
while cheers out loudly rang,
Led on by one brave Calloway,
the hero of the gang;
Free berths it was their motto,
and no man would give in,
A fight for death or glory, boys,
this victory to win.

They halted just before the bank,
when all hands fell in line,
They went inside to state their case
before A B Morine;
He got the terms to suit the men,
and from the van did call,
That he secured three fifty
and "free berths' for one and all.

A ringing cheer the sealers gave,
with hearts both light and gay,
And three more cheers they gave Morine,
the man who won the day;
With happy hearts they fisted bags,
as lightly they did trip,
With boots and bags and baking pan
to get on board their ship.

Then soon around the northern head
they disappeared from view,
Manned by a plucky, hardy race,
a bully northern crew;
May they return with bumper trips,
it is our earnest prayer,
The boys who nobly showed their pluck
and fought to get their share.

####.... Johnny Burke [1851-1930] ....####
See more Johnny Burke songs.

This variant was printed in St John's in 1905 on pp.9-10 of Murphy's Sealers' Song Book and in 1925 on p.20 of Songs Sung By Old Time Sealers Of Many Years Ago, both published by James Murphy [1867-1931].

A different though related ballad was written as The Luck Went With The Sealers by Johnny Burke and published in Burke's Ballads, pp.15-16, c.1960, compiled by John White [1930-2009] and archived at Memorial University of Newfoundland, Libraries, Centre For Newfoundland Studies - Digitized Books collection.

James Murphy's Publisher Notes:
The ever to be remembered sealers strike took place in St John's on Friday, March 8, 1902. Three thousand sealers refused to proceed to the ice-floes until their demands were complied with. The strike ended March 12 after the sealers demands were granted. The leader of the strikers was one Calloway, who died a year or so afterwords. The song was written by Johnny Burke, the bard of Prescott Street.

Excerpted from the Dictionary of Canadian Biography Online 1901-1910 (Vol XIII) by Robert H Cuff ©2000 University of Toronto:
Simeon Kelloway (Calloway, Colloway) [1858-1903] - fisherman and sealer from Pool's Island, NL, traditionally identified as the leader of the great sealers' strike of 1902, when 3,000 men deserted the 14 steamers that were in St John's being readied to sail for the ice. James Baird, William C Job, and Walter Baine Grieve represented the merchants. Alfred Bishop Morine was the lawyer taken on by the strike committee to help present their demands. He put the owners' offer to the strikers by telling those who accepted it to walk down McBride's Hill which today is a short connecting street between Duckworth and Water Streets.


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