I Am a Newfoundlander
DESCRIPTION: "I am a Newfoundlander, I go out to the ice. I'm always in the best of ships.... The man I wish to sail with is Captain Harry Dawe." The Adventure sets out in 1906 and takes 20,000 seal. The singer tells of the voyage, the crew, and an injured Irishman
EARLIEST DATE: 1978 (Ryan/Small)
KEYWORDS: ship hunting moniker injury doctor
FOUND IN: Canada(Newf)
REFERENCES (1 citation):
Ryan/Small, pp. 89-90, "I Am a Newfoundlander" (1 text, tune referenced)
cf. "The Pride of Logy Bay" (tune)
NOTES [371 words]: The Adventure of this song is also mentioned in "The Sealer's Song (II)," and I suspect it is the Ad of "Captains and Ships." She was the first iron-clad sealer (Chafe, pp. 26, 31), and inaugurated a new, if brief, era in Newfoundland sealing, because the steel ships could pound through ice that their wooden sisters could not (Ryan, p. 187). She was built in Dundee in 1905, went to the ice for the first time in 1906 (as the song says), and was sold to Russia in 1916 (Ryan/Drake, p. 36). (Most of the steel sealers were disposed of or lost during World War I, and there was little attempt to replace them. They brought in more seals, but they also cost more, and the sealing companies seem to have unofficially concluded that they just weren't worth it.)
The singer claim that he's "always in the best of ship(s)" thus fits the actual situation; for the first few years of her service, she was the best ship in the sealing fleet; probably there wasn't a better one until the Florizel was finished four years later.
There is a picture of the Adventure on p. 36 of Ryan/Drake and p. 187 of Ryan (the same picture, I believe), and one on p. 56 of Candow.
The Adventure had two slightly smaller sisters, the Bellaventure and the Bonaventure. The latter is mentioned in "Ballad of Captain Bob Bartlett, Arctic Explorer"; the former is almost certainly the "Bill" (i.e. "Belle") of "The Newfoundland Disaster (I)."
There were two Captains Henry Dawe; the one in this song, from Bay Roberts, is also mentioned in at least three other songs; see "The Sealer's Song (II)." Chafe, p. 31, agrees that he was a popular captain. He commanded the Adventure from 1906-1910, when he retired (Chafe, p. 90); Jacob Kean commanded the Adventure for the rest of her time as a sealer (Chafe, p. 98).
The second verse song actually under-counts the Adventure's results in her first years; in 1906, she took 30,193 seals, then 24,522 in 1907 and 27,255 in 1908. She took 17,046 and 10,578 in her last two years under Dawe. The tenth verse, which claims 30,000 seals, is more accurate and implies that the song is from 1906.
The last verse appears to me to have floated in from something else, but I'm not sure from what. - 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)
- Candow: James E. Candow, Of Men and Seals: A History of the Newfoundland Seal Hunt, Canadian Parks Service, Environment Canada, 1989
- Ryan: Shannon Ryan, The Ice Hunters: A History of Newfoundland Sealing to 1914, Breakwater Books, 1994
- Ryan/Drake: Shannon Ryan, assisted by Martha Drake, Seals and Sealers: A Pictorial History of the Newfoundland Seal Fishery, Breakwater Books, 1987
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