We Will Not Go to White Bay with Casey Any More
DESCRIPTION: "Tom Casey being commander Of the Saint Patrick by name," 28 men sign up to go sealing. They quickly become "jammed in White Bay Until the last of May." After many hard times, the sealers manage to return home
EARLIEST DATE: 1925 (Murphy, Songs Sung by Old Time Sealers of Many Years Ago)
KEYWORDS: hunting wreck disaster hardtimes ship
REFERENCES (2 citations):
Ryan/Small, p. 16, "We Will Not Go To White Bay With Casey Any More" (1 text)
ADDITIONAL: Shannon Ryan, _The Ice Hunters: A History of Newfoundland Sealing to 1914_, Breakwater Books, 1994, p. 215, "(We will not go to White Bay with Casey anymore)" (1 text)
ST RySm016 (Partial)
cf. "Davy Lowston" (plot)
NOTES [286 words]: Although this sounds as if it should refer to an actual event, no one seems to know the time or date. It's not clear that it's traditional, either, though Ryan and Small don't list an author, and claim there is a different version known. According to Ryan, p. 272 n. 13, Tom Casey commanded the St. Patrick 1838, perhaps 1839, 1841, 1845-1848, and perhaps beyond.
Murphy, who published the song, called it "very old." Even apart from the mention of Casey and the St. Patrick, the internal evidence supports this claim. Captain Casey never commanded a steamer, nor did a Captain Kelly, according to the lists in Chafe, strongly implying that they date from before the age of steamers (which began in 1863). Nor was there a seamer named Kitty, either, although there was a Kite, and there was a sailing sealer named the Kitty Clyde in 1858 (Ryan, p. 220). The ship has only 28 sealers -- far too small for the steamers, or even for the brigs that immediately preceded them; this strongly argues for a date before 1850. The ship sailed on March 1; starting in 1869, ships were banned from sailing prior to March 10 (with some minor exceptions; cf. Chafe, p. 49; Candow, p. 57). The ship sails from Carbonear; by the steamer era, most all ships sailed from St. John. None of this allows a precise date, but it was definitely early.
The decision to sail into White Bay was a gamble; according to Ryan, p. 215, going there was "always a risky decision, given it long v-shape which could become packed solid with ice in a northeast wind."
Being stuck in the ice until May was indeed extreme; the last baby seals left the ice in April. Sealers could hunt old seals after that, but this rarely brought in much. - RBW
Last updated in version 4.3
- Candow: James E. Candow, Of Men and Seals: A History of the Newfoundland Seal Hunt, Canadian Parks Service, Environment Canada, 1989
- 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)
- Ryan: Shannon Ryan, The Ice Hunters: A History of Newfoundland Sealing to 1914, Breakwater Books, 1994
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