Spring of '97, The
DESCRIPTION: "The Spring of '97 boys, For if we never knew The hardship of the frozen pan, We suffered with them too." "We struck the seals off Cabot Isle, Five days out from port." The song describes killing harp seals, storm, ice damage, and sealers dying.
EARLIEST DATE: 1951 (Peacock)
KEYWORDS: memorial death hunting ship sea work ordeal storm
Mar 27-Apr 6, 1891 - the deaths on the "Aurora" (see NOTES)
FOUND IN: Canada(Newf)
REFERENCES (4 citations):
Peacock, pp. 976-977, "The Spring of '97" (1 text, 1 tune)
Doyle3, p. 74, "The Spring of '97" (1 text, 1 tune)
Blondahl, pp. 77-78, "The Spring of '97" (1 text, 1 tune)
Ryan/Small, pp. 44-45, "THe Spring of '97" (1 text, 1 tune)
ST Doyl3074 (Partial)
Mrs. Way, "The Spring of '97" (on PeacockCDROM) [one verse only]
NOTES [214 words]: This song never names the ship involved in this tragedy, and Ryan/Small offer no hint -- but the song says that the crew took 27,000 seals. There was only one sealer to bring in such a haul in 1897: Arthur Jackman's Aurora took 27,883 harp pups (Chafe, p. 64).
This would seem to be confirmed by a newspaper account of this trip: "The ship brought in 27,000 seals, some of them on deck.... The Aurora struck the seals on the 15th of March. The men killed about 11,000 on that day, 13,000 on the 16th and a few thousand on the 17th. Then came a big blow.... No less than four men have had to answer the death summons out on the stormy Atlantic. Here is the death roll: Edward Sullivan, an elderly man of Conception Harbour died on Marth 27th.... He fell on the ice and injured his chest. James Butler, about 16 years of age from Cupids, died on March 27th from consumption. Thomas Swain, about 27 years, of Caplin Bay, died on April 2nd from sore throat. Michael Sullivan about 20 years of Cape Broyle died on April 6th... he suffered from sore throat all spring" (Feltham, pp. 24-25).
For other songs which mention the Aurora explicitly, and more about the ship herself, see "First Arrival -- 'Aurora' and 'Walrus' Full." Jackman himself is mentioned in "Sealer's Song (I)." - RBW
Last updated in version 4.3
- Chafe: Levi George Chafe, Chafe's Sealing Book: A History of the Newfoundland Sealfishery from the Earliest Available Records Down To and Including the Voyage of 1923, third edition, Trade Printers and Publishers, Ltd., 1923 (PDF scan available from Memorial University of Newfoundland)
- Feltham: John Feltham, Sealing Steamers, Harry Cuff Publications, 1995
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