MacEdward Leach and the Songs of Atlantic Canada
Tidal Wave at Burin
Gerald Aylward NFLD 1 Tape 5 Track 5
Cape Broyle Audio:
Newfoundland Ballad / sea disaster

On the eighteenth of November as you might all remember
When everybody thought the world was coming to an end
The earth began to tremble like a leaf all growing nimble
Our lives we had to scramble and you know what happened then

The day begin with sunshine from early in the morning
The wind was light and pleasant the sky was bright and clear
You could hear the people talking whilst along their roads walking
Not thinking that disaster was drawing very near

Everything went right until late that fatal evening
The time I do remember between four and five o'clock
When the people made a wonder what's that rumbling noise like thunder
Which seemed on top and underneath which gave them such a shock

The water it proceeded far out and unexceeded
More than any tidal wave we ever had before
Some people in their fancy some they almost went a-frantic
Trying to get safe from that awful noise and roar

The waves came in with power going forty miles an hour
Taking everything before it as it rushed along the shore
There were skiffs, punts and dories likewise stages and shores
And dwellings swept to glorious that will not be seen no more

It crept the highest fountain it drove people to the mountain
Where women with their children also elderly men and boys
Their lot was in at the water's great confusion
Saying let us go still farther we don't know how far t'will rise

Not a breeze did stir the ocean the clouds had little motion
The moon looked pale and sodden as she rose above the hill
Some people say she shifted and out of her course has drifted
While others seem to say that she is standing still

No doubt her beams reflected seem sad and unexpected
Where men and little children they were bathing in the waves
There were mothers, sons and daughters that got smothered in the waters
And sixteen precious loved ones have met a watery grave

A word of ... for the people of each nation
Sympathise with charity God rest them one and all
Their names should be recorded and no doubt they'll be rewarded
When they go before their maker on the judgement hall of God

Most all the work completely undone so very neatly
They got back every longer every log and every shore
Also clothes without a number some nails felt and lumber
They all got their losses and some a darn sight more

So now a verse of closure from myself that great composer
I did not get my issue and a half a thousand due
My land without an acre that got torn up by the quaker
I leave that to my maker and I think now that will do


Sources: This song is not the same as one written and published by Johnny Burke, entitled "Terrible Disaster on the Southwest Coast" and published in Burke's Popular Songs, December 1929.

History:   The Burin Peninsula is the southernmost part of the island of Newfoundland, visited by French and Basque fisherman as early as the 17 th century and, established as a major port for the Grand Banks and inland fisheries in the 19th and 20th century. A tidal wave that was felt as far away as Halifax hit this area November 18, 1929.

Text notes: The singer narrates the devastation of the tidal wave.

Tune notes: The melody used in this performance is in 4/4 metre and a major key with the form abaa'c.

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