Independent Harbour Tragedy (Josh Burdett) video
#2390: YouTube video by Eldred Mesher
©2013 ~ Used with permission ~

There were four of us, sir, we were a fine group,
I can tell you we had what it took;
Five, I suppose, if you want to count Ma,
She sure was a mighty fine cook.

When Spring rolled around we shifted outside,
Like everyone that time of year;
But luck was against us the very first thing,
'Twas a whole lot worse than we feared.

The weather was bad and the fishing was poor,
And big ice moved all in around;
And then in July we got that fast storm,
And that's when the two boys got drowned.

They were in on the leader,
young Rupert and Nels,
And the storm is sure fast for us three;
In rode a breaker and over she goes,
And threw them both into the sea.

We searched and we searched for many a day,
And Nelson we finally found;
But the body of Rupert we never could find,
It's often that way when they drown.

Ma never got over the loss of her sons,
Even after we moved in the bay;
She cried and she cried
though she tried to be strong,
But she ain't been the same since that day.

Now I fish by myself and I do what I can,
And Mother is fast growing old;
And the cod are all gone
and they haven't come back,
They say that the water's too cold.

But the sea is our life
and we'll take what she gives,
And we smile and we try to go on;
And we thank the good Lord
that this time it's not us,
And the ones that we love have gone home.

####.... Josh Burdett and Harry Martin ©2013 All Rights Reserved ....####
The video above features a live performance by Josh Burdett of Cartwright, NL.

Notes by Eldred Mesher:
On July 19, 1968, cousins Nelson Lester Mesher, age 23, and Rupert Stanley Mesher, just ten days short of his eighteenth birthday, drowned while working on the leader of their cod trap. This tragedy happened at Salmon Rock, on the eastern side of Independent Island. Their brother Bob described the breaking wave as a monster that suddenly rose out of the sea and swallowed everything in it's path.

Independent Island is located approximately 10-1/2 nautical miles northeast of Cartwright, Labrador.

From the Dictionary of Newfoundland English:
Leader - length of net stretching from the shore to a cod-trap to guide fish into the trap entrance.


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