Newfoundlanders & Labradorian’s continue to roam the world, passing on talents, exploring and making history. I’ve been reading Old-Time Songs and Poetry of Newfoundland: Songs of the People from the Days of our Forefathers. Compiler and Publisher, Gerald S. Doyle (1892-1956) was one of Newfoundland’s most successful businessman, establishing a province-wide pharmaceutical and home products business. Additionally, he had a passion for preserving culture. His newspaper, “The Family Fireside” was provincially distributed, provided good advice and noted first-hand accounts about the social and economic conditions of rural communities, as well as promoted his products. He certainly was a very savvy businessman. He has done us all a remarkable service through his publications. We now have preserved in time these songbooks for us to enjoy, reflect and compare with current Newfoundland folk songs.
Newfoundlanders are known for being musical and having our own unique folk songs. Today, I will share with you “The Roving Newfoundlanders” taken from Ballads and Sea Songs of Newfoundland
The Roving Newfoundlander
- As I was setting in my homestead on day
- while all alone,
- I was thinking of my countrymen and
- where they had to roam,
- From England to America, Australia and
- Where’er you go you’ll surely find a man
- from Newfoundland.
- They’re the pride of every country, good
- fortune on the smile!
- They climbed the heights of Alma, and
- crossed the river Nile,
- They sailed unto Vancouver, you’ll find it on
- the roll,
- And on the expedition went nearest to
- the Pole.
- It’s way out in South Africa where hogs
- they stand so high,
- They used their guns and bayonets the
- Boers for to destroy,
- Where cannons roar like thunder
- destructions on the plain
- You sons of Terra Nova, you fought for
- England’s fame.
- ‘was Nelson at Trafalgar the victory
- did gain,
- The Americans fought the Spaniards for
- blowing up the Maine;
- She sunk with all of her gallent crew,
- that gay and gallant band,
- They’re sleeping in their watery graves like
- sons of Newfoundland.
- When my mind been bent on roaming, ’tis
- something sad to tell
- Out in the mines of Cuba one of my
- comrades fell.
- His age had scarce been twenty-one, just
- entered in full bloom,
- On the eighteenth day of June was
- summoned to his tomb.
- They sailed the Mediterranean, I’ve heard
- the clergy tell,
- They went out into Egypt, from that to
- Jacob’s Well,
- They’ve fished the Northern and Grand
- Banks from every hole and knap,
- They are the tyrants of the sea, they
- fished the Flemish Cap.
- And now my song is ended, I think I have
- done well,
- My birthplace and my station I’m trying
- for to tell.
- I’ve spoken of every nation, I’ve freely won
- my race,
- I am a Newfoundlander belongs to
- Harbour Grace.
My grandfather at 80 years, passed away this June. He had a remarkable memory and ability to rhyme off anecdotes, jokes, stories, poems and other lines from days gone by. I only wish we had greater written accounts of all his knowledge and tales. He is sadly missed. So take time and write down that traditional song, story or event, it can help us preserve our Newfoundland & Labrador culture as we continue to advance in society. In the early 1900’s we may have been required to own a newspaper company to reach the mass of a province; however, today we have social media such as Facebook, Twitter, Blogs and others to reach the world.
Live Rural Newfoundland –