Miramichi Fire, The [Laws G24]
DESCRIPTION: A great fire covers an area 42 by 100 miles. In less than a day it burns forest, houses, and towns, killing or wounding vast numbers. There is little for the survivors to do but bury the dead
AUTHOR: John Jardine = Thomas M. Jordan (?)
EARLIEST DATE: 1947 (Manny/Wilson)
KEYWORDS: fire death disaster
Oct 1825 - A great series of forest fires sweeps New Brunswick. Popular legend had it that the damage was done by a single fire
FOUND IN: US(NE) Canada(Mar)
REFERENCES (7 citations):
Laws G24, "The Miramichi Fire"
Creighton-Maritime, pp. 201-202, "The Miramichi Fire" (1 text, 1 tune)
Ives-DullCare, pp. 62-64,250-251, "The Miramichi Fire" (1 text, 1 tune)
Ives-PEI, pp. 33-37,82, "The Miramichi Fire" (1 text, 1 tune)
Beck-Maine, pp. 251-254, "The Miramichi Fire" (1 text)
Manny/Wilson 34, "The Miramichi Fire" (1 text, 3 tunes)
DT 324, MIRAMICH
Edmund Doucette, "The Miramichi Fire" (on MREIves01)
NOTES: By the early nineteenth century, with the fur trade moving into the Canadian west, the eastern provinces were turning increasingly to logging as a source of income, sending most of their wood products to England.
This had significant effects on the ecology. As the old forests were cut down, second growth invaded, which was naturally more flammable -- and if the fire grew big enough in one of the clear patches, it could spread to the old growth as well. The result was a constant fire danger.
Although none of the fires was as large as the one described in this song, at least one (the "Great Fire") is said to have burned 400 square miles. Adding a zero to that might perhaps have helped inspire this song. - RBW
Ives-DullCare: "Shortly after [the fire], John Jardine of Black River wrote a ballad about it which he almost certainly had printed and sold. Either he or, what is more likely, later singers put tunes to it.... At the moment ... no tune has a better right than the present one to be called, if not the 'original,' at least the most widespread." - BS
Laws cites the Bulletin of the Folk-Song Society of the Northeast (#11) in attributing this song to Thomas M. Jordan. Obviously Jordan and Jardine are oral variants on each other. Jardine is the more likely; Manny and Wilson have a photograph of John Jardine (obviously in later life). - RBW
Last updated in version 3.6
Go to the Ballad Search form
Go to the Ballad Index Song List
Go to the Ballad Index Instructions
Go to the Ballad Index Bibliography or Discography
The Ballad Index Copyright 2017 by Robert B. Waltz and David G. Engle.