MacEdward Leach and the Songs of Atlantic Canada
Shoal Harbour Line
Bernard Houlihan NFLD 1 Tape 5A Track 1
Pouch Cove Audio:
Newfoundland Ballad / railway woes

Leach: (speaks) Let her go.

Sure as I went a-walking one morning in May
A-viewing those workers down on the railway
Beneath my feet where the water do flow
All things looked pleasant wherever I go

I met an old man from the head of the bay
Who spent twenty summers down on the railway
"Good morning oh skipper and don't you look fine
And how do you like the work on the Shoal Harbour Line?"

The old man he gazed on me with saddened surprise
I then saw the anger that came in his eyes
"I think you're a Bayman and don't you look fine
How do you like the work on the Shoal Harbour Line?

"You'll go to the grocery provisions to buy
Old Parsons looks on you he then winks his eyes
I think you're a Bayman and don't you look fine
I'll give you a tip on the Shoal Harbour Line

"You'll go to the dairy some milk for to buy
They'll tell you it's the richest that comes from our cow
But it's only salt water they mix up so fine
And they sell it for milk on the Shoal Harbour Line

"Sure it is for the molasses my God it is bad
Sure it is for the fatback it would drive you mad
Sure it is for the flour it's only slaked lime
And t'would give you beriberi on the shoal Harbour Line

"To boil you a kettle they'll charge you ten cents
And fifty to stick up a camp by the fence
To sew on a button they'll charge you a dime
Sure that is the rule on the Shoal Harbour Line>'

Sure now I'll go home to the head of the bay
No more from Old Collier's no more will I stray
I'll sit myself down with sweet Anna Devine
And I'll tell her the rules on the Shoal Harbour Line

Male voice (speaks): That's lovely.

Female voice (speaks): Very good.


Notes

Sources: Taft 9; recorded by Wilf Doyle for Rodeo (RLP 49) in 1958;

History: A Newfoundland song about the building of the railway, a process that began in 1881. Shoal Harbour is located between Clarenville and Port Blandford and is the connecting point for the branch line that went out the Bonavista Peninsula.

Text notes: The singer meets a bayman who complains of ill treatment working on the Shoal Harbour Line (railway).

Tune notes: The melody has an abb'c form in which the "b'" and c" phrases are elided. The mode is mixolydian.

All material on this webpage is copyright © 2004, Memorial University of Newfoundland Folklore and Language Archive, Memorial University of Newfoundland. No unauthorized copying or use is permitted. For more information, follow this link.