MacEdward Leach and the Songs of Atlantic Canada
Performed by Morris Houlihan Accession # 78-054 NFLD 1 Tape 2A Track 6
Community: Flatrock Audio:
Genre: Newfoundland ballad / celebration Musical notation available


There's a day that's held most dear by everyone that's here
By every Terra Nova son and daughter
In the graveyard just ahead they are sleeping with the dead
The hardy boys that often rowed the water

You remember well the year when the Prince of Wales was here
With a picked crew from the … just to face us
But before they turned the stake they were beaten half a length
By our fishermen who rowed them at the races

Yes boys, sure boys everyone was there
To see the pretty girls with smiling faces
And there's many a city dude that got paralyzed and stewed
At Betsy Colbert's tent down at the races

When the tents were in full swing and the music sweetly ring
And the boiled crubeens upon the dishes sloping
The figgy duffs were seen that would sink a Brigantine
Or would gap the Yankee hatchet trying to open

The rum and ginger beer your poor stinking heart would cheer
Sure you would never lose your head but take things coolly
The whiskey was so mild you could give it to a child
Sure they call it lemonade at Ballyhooly

Yes boys, sure boys everyone was there
To see the rousing fights with some hard cases
And it's many a time Ben Cox had come to heel it in his socks
The evening of the Terra Nova races

Coming on the afternoon we would heel it pretty soon
To the platform where the merry dance adorning
The fiddler would cry out, "Ladies in …"
Sure we often held the platform 'til the morning

Out in hornpipes, jigs and reels, oh how happy we would feel
Boys and girls would laugh with smiling faces
I danced the whole night long with a girl that had one eye
Said I the dickens odds were at the races

Yes boys, sure boys everyone was there
To see the pretty girls with smiling faces
And there's many and many a fellow oh they lost and got new girls
At Tom Martin's dancing platform at the races



History: One of a number of songs about the St. John's Regatta, a sporting event that was first documented in 1818 and is still a public holiday at the beginning of the 21 st century. The visit of the Prince of Wales dates to 1860. See for further information about the history of the St. John's Regatta.

Text notes: This text celebrates the St. John's Regatta, but also references the number of cemeteries that surround Quidi Vidi Lake where the Regattta takes place.

Tune notes: A rocking 6/8 metre, with distinctly "Victorian" chromaticism, there are resemblances to sea shanty style in the alternation of solo and chorus and in the pacing of the repetition of the word "row" that would probably accompany the action.

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