Wreck of the Julie Plante, The
DESCRIPTION: "On wan dark night on de (Lak St. Clair)... de crew of de wood scow Julie Plante got scar' an' run below." The captain ties Rosie the cook to the mast, then jumps overboard. Both are drowned. The moral: "You can't get drown... so long you stay on shore"
AUTHOR: probably William Henry Drummond
EARLIEST DATE: 1897 (Drummond, _The Habitant_)
LONG DESCRIPTION: French-Canadian dialect song. On Lak St. Pierre, the wood-scow "Julie Plante" encounters a fierce storm. They've lost their skiff, and the anchor won't hold; the captain ties the cook (Rosie) to the mast, takes the life-preserver, and jumps overboard, saying he'll drown for her sake. (?) Next morning the boat is wrecked and all are found dead. The singer warns listeners to marry and live on a farm; "You can't get drown on Lak St. Pierre/So long as you stay on shore."
KEYWORDS: ship disaster humorous death warning work storm wreck
FOUND IN: Canada(Ont) US(MW)
REFERENCES (6 citations):
Rickaby 22, "On Lac San Pierre" (1 short text, 1 tune)
Beck 76, "The Wreck of the Julie Plante" (1 text plus two fragments of another)
Walton/Grimm/Murdock, pp. 155-158, "The Wood Scow Julie Plante" (1 text, 1 tune)
Fowke/Johnston, pp. 174-175, "The Wreck of the Julie Plante" (1 text, 1 tune)
Lomax-FSNA 62, "The Julie Plante" (1 text, 1 tune)
ADDITIONAL: William Henry Drummond, M.D., _The Habitant and other French Canadian Poems_, Putnam, 1897, pp. 8-10, "The Wreck of the 'Julie Plante'" (1 text)
ST FJ174 (Full)
Harry Barney, "The Wood Scow Julie Plante" (1938; on WaltonSailors)
cf. "Yim Yonson" (tune)
NOTES: Yes, that's "Lak." Why jumping overboard will save the cook, I don't know. - PJS
The hint here may come from Walton's classification of this as a scow boat song. The scows operated in very shallow water -- sometimes so shallow that you could stand on the bottom and keep your head above water. Of course, if the water is that shallow, you might as well stay aboard till the scow runs aground, because it can't sink very deep....
This was apparently a very well-known Great Lakes songl Walton found seven sailors who recalled complete or nearly-complete text.
Drummond's original poem (written, like most of his work, in "habitant" or French-Canadian English) was subtitled "A Legend of Lac St. Pierre" (Lake St. Peter). In oral tradition, however, this was often changed to the more familiar Lake St. Clair. According to Walton, Detroiters claimed the song as a true folk song, but there seems no absolute proof of this.
What is certain is that Drummond's book was extremely popular. I recently acquired a 1903 copy which listed the publication history. The book was first published in November 1897. There were two editions printed in that month, two more in December 1897, five in 1898, three in 1899, two in 1900, two in 1901, two in 1902, and mine is from January 1903. So there were 19 printings in the first 63 months of the book's existence! - RBW
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