Sinking of the Newfoundland, The
DESCRIPTION: "We have bred many sailors bold, Brave captains by the score, And ranking with the best of them Is Captain John Blackmore." After a long career of sailing and shipbuilding, he retires, can't stand it, builds the Newfoundland -- and sails her into a wreck
AUTHOR: Solomon Samson?
EARLIEST DATE: 1963 (A Glimpse of Newfoundland in Poetry and Pictures)
KEYWORDS: age ship wreck rescue
1954 - crushing of the "Newfoundlander"
REFERENCES (1 citation):
Ryan/Small, pp. 130-131, "The Sinking of the 'Newfoundland'" (1 text, 1 tune)
NOTES [287 words]: Despite both being about the wreck of a ship named Newfoundland, this has nothing to do with the various songs about the "Newfoundland Disaster"; that Newfoundland was commanded by Captain Kean. This is about the Newfoundland built and commanded by John H. Blackmore; this much newer ship is also mentioned in "A Noble Fleet of Sealers."
Most Newfoundland sealing songs came from the era of the sealing steamers, which began in the 1860s. Starting in the early 1900s, ironclads joined the fleet -- but all of them were lost or sold during World War I; the steamers were left in charge. But all of them were old -- usually pre-1900. By the 1940s, the steamers -- and, indeed, the Newfoundland sealing industry itself -- were almost extinct.
One of the old captains, John Blackmore, wouldn't give up. He built a diesel-powered boat, J. H. Blackmore (named for himself and his family, of course); it was the only Newfoundland ship to go to the ice in 1943 (Candow, p. 107). She was a model for the small "motor vessels," or MVs, which replaced the steamers in the 1940s -- in 1948, for instances, nine MVs, including the J. H. Blackmore, went to the seal fishery. But the Blackmore was lost in that year; the MVs were "genuinely accident-prone" (Candow, p. 165). In the 1950s, Blackmore commanded a ship called the Saint Adresse (Candow, p. 151). The Newfoundlander, which I assume is the piece mentioned in this song despite the difference in name. "was crushed in the Strait of Belle Isle; the crew of over 60 men walked across the ice to safety at Eddies Cove" (Candow, p. 165). Blackmore eventually abandoned the seal fishery in 1962 (Ryan/Drake, p. 82). That appears to be the subject of this song. - 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
- Ryan/Drake: Shannon Ryan, assisted by Martha Drake, Seals and Sealers: A Pictorial History of the Newfoundland Seal Fishery, Breakwater Books, 1987
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 2018 by Robert B. Waltz and David G. Engle.