Trapper's Cabin at Central New Brunswick Woodsmen's Museum

The trapper's cabin shown was originally constructed in the late nineteenth century at 47 Lakes in central New Brunswick. In the late twentieth century it was dismantled, moved, and reconstructed at the Central New Brunswick Woodsmen's Museum at Boiestown.

Central New Brunswick Woodsmen's Museum
19th Century
CANADA Northern New Brunswick, New Brunswick, Northern New Brunswick, CANADA
© 2007, Central New Brunswick Woodsmen's Museum. All Rights Reserved.


Wilmot Macdonald sings the song Peter Emberley that was written by John Calhoun.

PETER EMBERLEY

1. My name ‘tis Peter Emberley as you may understand,
I belong to Prince Edward’s Island near to the ocean strand,
In eighteen hundred and eighty when the flowers in brilliant hue
I left my native counteree my fortune to pursue.

2. I landed in New Brunswick, that lumbering counteree,
I hired to work in the lumber woods which proved my destiny,
I hired to work in the lumber woods to cut the spruce trees down,
It was loading two sleds on the yards I received my deathly wound.

3. Now there’s danger on the ocean where the seas rolls mountains high,
There’s danger in the battlefield where the angry bullets fly,
There’s danger in the lumber woods and death lurks silently there
And I have proved a victim to death’s great monstrous snare.

4. Here’s adieu unto Prince Edward’s Isle, that garden in the sea,
No more I’ll walk her flowery banks to enjoy a summer breeze,
No more I’ll view her galliant ships as they go sailing by
With her streamer floating in the wind above her canvas high.

5. Here’s adieu unto my father, ‘twas him who drove me here.
I think him very cruel, his treatment most severe.
It is not right to press a boy nor try to keep him down
For it ofttimes drives him from his home when he is far too young.

6. Here’s adieu unto my greatest friend, I mean my mother dear,
She reared a son who fell as soon as he left her tender care.
It’s little did my mother think when she sang lullabies
It’s what land I might travel in or what death I might die.

7. Here’s adieu unto my younger friend and the island girl so true,
Long may they live to enjoy that isle where my first breath I drew,
But the time will pass on just as fast as before I passed away,
What signify a mortal man that organized for clay.

8. Now there is a world beyond the tomb, to it I’m nearing on,
For man is more than mortal and death can ever come,
The mist of death does blind my eyes and I’m no longer here,
My spirit takes its final flight, so now I must leave here.

9. But I hope my heavenly father will bless my precious grave,
It’s to near the city of Boiestown where my mouldering bones do lie,
To wait my Saviour’s calling on the great judgement day.

- Helen Creighton, Folksongs from Southern New Brunswick, pp. 231 - 232

John Calhoun
Wilmot Macdonald
c. 1959
New Brunswick, CANADA
© 1962, Folkways Records & Service. All Rights Reserved.


Traditional folksingers at Peter Emberley monument in 1963.

Sam Jagoe, A. Calhoun and Stanley Macdonald are pictured at the Peter Emberley Memorial in Boiestown during the Miramichi Folksong Festival, 13 August, 1963.

Unknown
New Brunswick Museum, Saint John
c. 1963
New Brunswick, CANADA
1989.108.495
© 2007, New Brunswick Museum, Saint John, N.B. All Rights Reserved.


There is no song of the local lumber woods so popular in the Maritime provinces as this one; in which a young man, known variously as Emberley, Amberley, Hembley, and Rambelay, meets an early death. Born in Prince Edward Island in 1863, he left an unhappy home to go lumbering in New Brunswick. There, when 18 or 19, he was crushed to death by a falling log.

On the day he was buried in Boiestown, New Brunswick, snowdrifts made the roads impassable, and a layman read the service. And so he was buried without benefit of clergy. His grave was marked with a wooden cross giving the date as 1881, and for years it was cared for by a Boiestown resident, a Mr. Henry McCarthy.

The incident might have been forgotten if John Calhoun …had not made up a song about it, which kept his memory alive so well that in 1963 Mr. McCarthy’s brother and sister erected a marble monument. Later that year the parish priest conducted a service and blessed the grave, and Dr. Manny placed a wreath beside the Emberley monument in memory of John Calhoun whom she described as a great folk poet. Dr. Edward Ives, who had earlier scattered red earth from Prince Edward Island over the gra Read More

There is no song of the local lumber woods so popular in the Maritime provinces as this one; in which a young man, known variously as Emberley, Amberley, Hembley, and Rambelay, meets an early death. Born in Prince Edward Island in 1863, he left an unhappy home to go lumbering in New Brunswick. There, when 18 or 19, he was crushed to death by a falling log.

On the day he was buried in Boiestown, New Brunswick, snowdrifts made the roads impassable, and a layman read the service. And so he was buried without benefit of clergy. His grave was marked with a wooden cross giving the date as 1881, and for years it was cared for by a Boiestown resident, a Mr. Henry McCarthy.

The incident might have been forgotten if John Calhoun …had not made up a song about it, which kept his memory alive so well that in 1963 Mr. McCarthy’s brother and sister erected a marble monument. Later that year the parish priest conducted a service and blessed the grave, and Dr. Manny placed a wreath beside the Emberley monument in memory of John Calhoun whom she described as a great folk poet. Dr. Edward Ives, who had earlier scattered red earth from Prince Edward Island over the grave, came from the University of Maine for the occasion, and so did Mr. Ken Homer, who for 10 years had acted as master of ceremonies at the Miramichi festivals; Alan Mills, professional folk singer from Montreal also came for the service.

No festival is considered complete without a rendition of this song and Mr. Kelsey Jones has written a symphony on the tune.


-Helen Creighton, Folksongs from Southern New Brunswick , pp. 232- 233
Canadian Centre for Folk Culture Studies 
Canadian Museum of Civilization, 1971 

© 1971, Canadian Museum of Civilization. All Rights Reserved.

The Dungarvon Whooper
by Michael Whelan – the poet of Renous

Far within the forest scene,
Where the trees forever green,
Form a contrast to the beech and birches grey,
Where the snow lies white and deep,
And the song birds seem to sleep,
And cease their sweetest singing all the day.
Where the mighty monstrous moose,
Of limbs both large and loose,
Through the forest sweeps with strides both swift and strong,
Where the caribou and deer
Swim the brooks so crystal clear,
And the mighty deep Dungarvon rolls along.
Where the black bear has his den,
Far beyond the haunts of men,
And the muskrat, mink and marten swim the stream,
Where the squirrel so light and free,
Swiftly springs from tree to tree,
And the lovely snow-white rabbit sleep and dreams;
Where the sounds of toil resound
Far across the frozen ground,
And the thousand things that to the woods belong,
Where the saws and axes ring,
And the woodsmen wildly sing,
And the dark and deep Dungarvon sweeps along.
In a lumber camp one day,
While the cr Read More

The Dungarvon Whooper
by Michael Whelan – the poet of Renous

Far within the forest scene,
Where the trees forever green,
Form a contrast to the beech and birches grey,
Where the snow lies white and deep,
And the song birds seem to sleep,
And cease their sweetest singing all the day.
Where the mighty monstrous moose,
Of limbs both large and loose,
Through the forest sweeps with strides both swift and strong,
Where the caribou and deer
Swim the brooks so crystal clear,
And the mighty deep Dungarvon rolls along.
Where the black bear has his den,
Far beyond the haunts of men,
And the muskrat, mink and marten swim the stream,
Where the squirrel so light and free,
Swiftly springs from tree to tree,
And the lovely snow-white rabbit sleep and dreams;
Where the sounds of toil resound
Far across the frozen ground,
And the thousand things that to the woods belong,
Where the saws and axes ring,
And the woodsmen wildly sing,
And the dark and deep Dungarvon sweeps along.
In a lumber camp one day,
While the crew were faraway,
And no one there but cook and boss alone,
A sad tragedy took place,
And death won another race,
For the young cook swiftly passed to the unknown;
From the day of long ago,
Comes this weary tale of woe,
The sad and solemn subject of my song,
When this young man drooped and died,
In his youth and manhood's pride,
Where the dark and deep Dungarvon sweeps along.
When the crew returned that night,
What a sad scene met their sight,
There lay the young cook silent, cold and dead,
Death was in his curling hair,
In his young face pale and fair,
While his knapsack formed a pillow for his head.
From the belt about his waist
All his money was misplaced,
Which made the men suspect some serious wrong,
Was it murder cold and dread,
That befell the fair young dead
Where the dark and deep Dungarvon rolls along?
When they asked the skipper why
He had made no wild outcry,
He turned away and hid his haughty head;
"Well, the youngster took so sick,
And he died so mighty quick,
I hadn't time to think, " was all he said;
A tear was in each eye,
Each heart it heaved a sigh,
While through each breast the strangest feeling throng;
When each reverent head was bared,
As his funeral they prepared,
Where the mighty deep Dungarvon rolls along.
Fast fell the driven snow,
While the wild winds they did blow,
Till four feet deep upon the ground it lay,
So that on the burial day
To the graveyard far away
To bear the corpse impossible was found.
Then a forest grave was made,
And in it the cook was laid
While the song birds and the woodsmen ceased their song;
When the last farewells were said
O'er the young and lonely dead
Where the dark and deep Dungarvon sweeps along.
When the crew returned at night
Their dear comrade still they mourned,
While the shades o'night were falling o'er the hill,
All that long and fearful night
All the camp was in affright,
Such fearful whoops and yells the forest fill;
Pale and ghastly was each face,
"We shall leave this fearful place,
For this camp unto the demons does belong,
Ere the dawning of the day
We will hasten far away
From where the dark Dungarvon rolls along."
Since that day, so goes the word,
Fearful sounds have long been heard,
Far round the scene where lies the woodsman's grave,
Whoops the stoutest hearts to thrill,
Yells that warmest blood to chill,
Sends terror to the bravest of the brave;
Till beside the grave did stand,
God's good man with lifted hand,
And prayed that He those sounds should not perlong (probably prolong)
That those fearful sounds should cease,
And the region rest in peace
Where the dark and deep Dungarvon sweeps along.
Since that day the sounds have ceased
And the region is released
From those most unearthly whoops and screams and yells,
All around the Whooper's spring
There is heard no evil thing,
And round the Whooper's grave sweet silence dwells
Be this story false or true,
I have told it unto you,
As I heard it from the folklore all life long,
So I hope all strife will cease,
And our people dwell in peace,
Where the dark and deep Dungarvon sweeps along.

- Louise Manny, Songs of Miramichi, pp. 78 -81
© 1968, Brunswick Press. All Rights Reserved.

Information on poet Michael Whelan by Louis Manny in Songs of Miramichi.

Michael Whelan was born at Renous in 1858, and died in Chatham in 1937. He was a clever and well-read man, who taught school for some years, and later worked as a bookkeeper for a lumber firm. His real vocation, however, was writing poetry, especially poetry praising his native land and the people who lived in it. Many verses from his pen were published in the local newspapers, and in his later years he augmented his income by selling off-prints of these in pamphlet form. His title of “The Poet of the Renous” was well earned.

This song about the Dungarvon River and its whooping ghost was written by Michael Whelan, the “Poet of Renous”, to be sung to the tune of Where the Silvery Colorado Sweeps Along. Nicholas Underhill of Nor’West Bridge sang it at the Miramichi Folksong Festival in 1961.

The tale of the Dungarvon Whooper is firmly imbedded in Miramichi folklore. It is probably the only ghost in history that ever had a railway train named after it.

There are at least three versions of the story, of which Michael Whelan narr Read More
Information on poet Michael Whelan by Louis Manny in Songs of Miramichi.

Michael Whelan was born at Renous in 1858, and died in Chatham in 1937. He was a clever and well-read man, who taught school for some years, and later worked as a bookkeeper for a lumber firm. His real vocation, however, was writing poetry, especially poetry praising his native land and the people who lived in it. Many verses from his pen were published in the local newspapers, and in his later years he augmented his income by selling off-prints of these in pamphlet form. His title of “The Poet of the Renous” was well earned.

This song about the Dungarvon River and its whooping ghost was written by Michael Whelan, the “Poet of Renous”, to be sung to the tune of Where the Silvery Colorado Sweeps Along. Nicholas Underhill of Nor’West Bridge sang it at the Miramichi Folksong Festival in 1961.

The tale of the Dungarvon Whooper is firmly imbedded in Miramichi folklore. It is probably the only ghost in history that ever had a railway train named after it.

There are at least three versions of the story, of which Michael Whelan narrated this one. Possibly the awful shrieks had often been heard in the woods before the alleged murder of the cook, and were those of a screech owl, or possibly of a panther. However, the story of a murder made a most satisfactory explanation, and other bits of folklore have been attracted to the tale, like filings to a magnet. It now has among its attributes ever-blooming flowers on the grave, a ghost which rises screaming if the grave is disturbed, a feu follet type of apparition, or rather sound, which entices the hearer into the woods, where he is lost, or sometimes lures him with the smell of frying bacon, or a shrieking spectre which comes nearer and nearer to the unlucky person who answers the sounds. Finally, in this last version, the scream is heard directly over the answerer, in the open air, and he is too terrified to answer it again.

At any rate, Rev. Edward Murdoch, the Roman Catholic parish priest at Renous, felt seriously enough about the matter to come up to Dungarvon and read the church service of exorcism. It is said that after this the evil spirit which was responsible for the horrible sounds was heard no more. But people still say they sometimes hear the Whooper, and they fear to visit the grave by the Whooper Spring.

The Dungarvon River is a branch of the Main Renous River, which it joins above Quarryville. There is a local tradition (quoted by Ganong) that once a log drive was “hung up” below the mouth of the river, and the crew amused themselves by dancing, with much stamping of their heavy boots, while they waited for the logs to be floated. During the dance a big Irishman shouted: “Come on boys, we’ll make Dungarvon shake.” Perhaps some of the crew came from Dungarvan in Ireland. At any rate, the name clung to the river. It is said that the Dungarvon “turns” resemble those of the winding Irish river.

The train on the Canada Eastern Railway, between Fredericton and Newcastle, named for the Whooper, made its last run in 1936.

The first appearance of Michael’s poem in print seems to have been in a local newspaper in January 1912.


Louise Manny, Songs of Miramichi, p. 81
© 1968, Brunswick Press. All Rights Reserved.

Information on Whelan by W.D. Hamilton in Michael Whelan: Folk Poet of Renous River, A Collection of his poetry, selected and edited by Michael O. Nowlan, New Ireland Press, 1990

In a letter from Lord Beaverbrook to Whelan (n.d.):
“I remember your poems very well in the columns of the Union Advocate [Newcastle-Miramichi] when I was a boy, and I admired your work greatly.”  (p. 132)

In a letter from Hon. R.B. Bennett, only Prime Minister from New Brunswick (n.d.):
“I have read your poems and articles in the Chatham World [Chatham-Miramichi]and always with enjoyment.”  (p. 141)

“He walked and hitchhiked wherever he went,” remembered one woman. “There weren’t many cars in those days,” she added, “so he took what he could get, including a horse and wagon.” According to Father Robert Grattan, Michael travelled “the length and breadth of the Miramichi valley” with “bunyoned feet” encased in “ordinary rubbers” secured with “ordinary string.” “For those who knew him personally,” Read More

Information on Whelan by W.D. Hamilton in Michael Whelan: Folk Poet of Renous River, A Collection of his poetry, selected and edited by Michael O. Nowlan, New Ireland Press, 1990

In a letter from Lord Beaverbrook to Whelan (n.d.):
“I remember your poems very well in the columns of the Union Advocate [Newcastle-Miramichi] when I was a boy, and I admired your work greatly.”  (p. 132)

In a letter from Hon. R.B. Bennett, only Prime Minister from New Brunswick (n.d.):
“I have read your poems and articles in the Chatham World [Chatham-Miramichi]and always with enjoyment.”  (p. 141)

“He walked and hitchhiked wherever he went,” remembered one woman. “There weren’t many cars in those days,” she added, “so he took what he could get, including a horse and wagon.” According to Father Robert Grattan, Michael travelled “the length and breadth of the Miramichi valley” with “bunyoned feet” encased in “ordinary rubbers” secured with “ordinary string.” “For those who knew him personally,” he stated, “he was their rubber-shod poet, selling copies of his various poems to anyone who would give him a dime.”

Most physical descriptions of Michael emphasize his height. Dorothea Cox, after speaking with a number of people who remembered him, described him as “a tall, lanky man, wearing an old cap and trousers too short by inches – trousers ‘measured in a snow-drift,’ as the local phrase has it.” According to Joseph Kehoe, who once taxied him from Grainfield to Blackville with his horse and wagon, “Mick was about six feet, seven inches tall – and of a lovely appearance.” Another man described Michael as having been “three axe handles tall and as wiry as a spring trap.”

Michael lived in the Newcastle-Chatham area in his later years and thus became estranged from his family and home community. It is evident that in his old age, at least, Michael had few, if any, true friends or loved ones among his many acquaintances on the Miramichi – and when he was no longer able to support himself, he had to enter the county home (or alms house) in Chatham, where he died on May 10, 1937. The North Shore Leader [Newcastle-Miramichi] of May 21 carried the following obituary:

"Michael Whalen (sic), the well-known poet of the Miramichi, passed away at Chatham on Monday, May 10th, at the advanced age of seventy-nine years.
The deceased gentleman was born at Renous River, a son of William and Mary (Carey) Whalen, natives of Ireland (sic), and was the last member of his family. He was famous all over the Miramichi for his poetry, especially extolling the beauties of the Miramichi River and the Renous District. Life has been a hard struggle for Mr. Whalen for poetic aspirations do not produce much in hard cash and no doubt he had many bitter days, but he was always cheerful and deeply appreciative of those who did him a kindness. He was an extremely well read man, with a real touch of Irish wit and his conversational powers were broad. The funeral was held on Tuesday morning to St. Michael’s Cathedral, where Requiem Mass was celebrated by Rev. Dr. Pichette. Internment was made in St. Michael’s cemetery."

The obituary writer delicately avoided mentioning the fact that “the deceased gentleman died in the poor house and that his remains were consigned to a pauper’s grave.  (pp. 141-142)

It is evident from Michael’s writing that he experienced a great sense of loss over the death of his parents and the departure of so many of the other members of hsi family [to the United States], but it has been suggested that much of the grief and sadness expressed in Michael’s early work was caused by the death of Margaret Singleton, with whom he is said to have been in love. This occurrence supposedly fixed Michael’s journey on a bachelor’s path throughout life and also marked the beginning of his well-known affection for the bottle. “Michael never drank before that,” stated one informant, “and he never stopped afterwards.” Father Grattan stated with a touch of Irish humor that Michael was allegedly addicted to “A drop of the Creature [which he] often ingested as medicine to warm the blood of the weary traveller.” Michael has nothing at all to say in his writing either about his drinking habit or the tragic love affair which is said to have altered the course of his life.         (p. 132)

During his lifetime, Michael was a successful folk poet, and fifty years after his death he remains a hero within both the Miramichi folk tradition and the Irish Catholic tradition of the province. (p. 143)

Although the exact place in St. Michael’s Cemetery, Chatham [now part of Miramichi City], where Michael Whelan was buried is not known, a group of concerned citizens raised money for a tombstone to show their “respect and appreciation of this true Poet of Renous and the whole Miramichi area.” In 1981 a memorial stone was erected in St. Michael’s Cemetery in his honour.



© 1987, W.D. Hamilton, Mi'kmaq-Maliseet Institute, UNB. All Rights Reserved.

THE SCOW ON COWDEN SHORE

My name is Larry Gorman,
To all hands I mean no harrum, (harm)
You need not be alarumed, (alarmed)
For you’ve heard of me before.
I can make a song and sing it,
I can fix it neat and bring it,
And the title that I’ll give it
Is the Scow on Cowden Shore.

I have got many’s the foe,
And the same I do know so
Amongst them all I go,
And it grieves their hearts full sore,
For I know that they could shoot me,
‘Crimanate or prosecute me
But they kindily salute me
Round the Scow on Cowden Shore.

There was men from many places (were)
Of many diffrunt races, (different)
With pale and swarthy faces,
I cannot name them o’er;
Island men and Rustigoushers,
There’s Nashwaakers and Pugmoushers, 
All assembled here together
Round the Scow on Cowden Shore.

There was men from Arromocta, (were)
Some more from Roushebucta,
From Fredericton town and Bathurst
And MacDonald’s from Bras d’Or,
There’s night ramps and Read More
THE SCOW ON COWDEN SHORE

My name is Larry Gorman,
To all hands I mean no harrum, (harm)
You need not be alarumed, (alarmed)
For you’ve heard of me before.
I can make a song and sing it,
I can fix it neat and bring it,
And the title that I’ll give it
Is the Scow on Cowden Shore.

I have got many’s the foe,
And the same I do know so
Amongst them all I go,
And it grieves their hearts full sore,
For I know that they could shoot me,
‘Crimanate or prosecute me
But they kindily salute me
Round the Scow on Cowden Shore.

There was men from many places (were)
Of many diffrunt races, (different)
With pale and swarthy faces,
I cannot name them o’er;
Island men and Rustigoushers,
There’s Nashwaakers and Pugmoushers, 
All assembled here together
Round the Scow on Cowden Shore.

There was men from Arromocta, (were)
Some more from Roushebucta,
From Fredericton town and Bathurst
And MacDonald’s from Bras d’Or,
There’s night ramps and gallivanters,
There’s swift runners and raft canters,
All work for daily wages
Round the Scow on Cowden Shore.

There was the two young Joyces,
With their unhuman voices,
Kept makin’ peculiar noises
Till their throats got quite sore.
A wolf or Indian [fellow]
They would be far more civil
Than those uncultivated rubbage
Round the Scow on Cowden Shore.

There was the Widow Winnie,
She sold ale and cockaninny,
To get the poor fools’ pennies
She sold apples by the score.
She sold whiskey, gin and fly beer,
Somewhat porter, ale and cider,
Which made them whoop and stagger
Round the Scow on Cowden Shore.

Dan Brown and Bill Boggy
One night got very groggy,
The night being dark and foggy,
And we heard a tedious roar.
They were semi-intoxicated
And got somewhat agitated
All hands they did affrighted
Round the Scow on Cowden Shore.

Dan Brown when he begins
He’s a curious little man-o
He’ll study and he’ll plan
Till he gets to Edie’s door.
Oh, he’ll drink beer and whiskey
Until he gets pretty frisky,
And then he’ll turn quite saucy
To the Scow on Cowden Shore.

Dan Brown’s a splendid singer,
And in dances he will swing her,
He’ll bring to her good tidings
Of a new bank bill or more;
Oh, she’ll laugh and she’ll be funny
When she knows he’s got the money,
She’ll call him her darling honey,
From the Scow on Cowden Shore.

The True Lover’s Discussion
Is once more in fashion;
She’ll keep quietly hushing
While he sings it o’er and o’er.
For his voice is so melodious
That the ladies they’ll jine in chorus, (join)
And their echos all sing o’er us
Round the Scow on Cowden Shore.

Dan Brown and Johnny Layton
On the women they go a-waiting
They go out on the Sunday
With Miss Vickers and Kate Poor.
It’s all to gain insight
For all hands they mean to invite
You’re welcome to a clean bite
Round the Scow on Cowden Shore.

Some of the blokes spend good few dollars
In fine shirts and paper collars,
And in good whiskey wallers
Till they fight and get them tore.
Oh, they’ll fight and they will wrangle,
And each other they’ll badly mangle,
They’re called hard men to handle
From the Scow on Cowden Shore.

Oh, some they go a-courting,
While others they go a-sporting,
They go into a circus
To view scenes of days gone o’er.
In the like I take no pleasure,
So I sit down at my leisure,
And I daily take their measure
From the Scow on Cowden Shore.

So now my song is ended,
And I hope no one is offended,
The like I never intended,
And your pardon I’ll implore,
So you humble, mild and witty,
I pray on me take pity
And jine me humble ditty (join)
From the Scow on Cowden Shore.

(last two lines spoken)
- Louise Manny, Songs of Miramichi, pp. 171 - 174
© 1968, Brunswick Press. All Rights Reserved.

GORMAN, LAWRENCE, labourer and song maker; b. 10 July 1846 in Trout River (Tyne Valley), P.E.I., son of Thomas Gorman and Ann Donahue; m. first 5 Nov. 1891 Mary Mahoney, née O’Neal (d. 1896), in Ellsworth, Maine; m. secondly 7 Sept. 1897 Julia Lynch (d. 1928) in Bangor, Maine; there were no children of either marriage; d. 31 Aug. 1917 in Brewer, Maine, and was buried in Mount Pleasant Cemetery, Bangor.

The son of Irish immigrants in a basically English community, Larry Gorman had no more than the usual common-school education of the time and grew up working at whatever was available, which meant farming, fishing, and seasonally going off to the mainland to work in the lumber-woods. His travels took him first to the Miramichi area of New Brunswick and, after about 1885, to Maine. In Maine he lived initially in Ellsworth, working in the woods and on the drives along the Union River; then around 1900 he moved to Brewer (probably because his wife wanted to be nearer to her family in Bangor), where he was employed both in the Penobscot lumber-woods and in the sawmills and pulp mills of south Brewer.

Like his fellow Islander Lawrence Read More
GORMAN, LAWRENCE, labourer and song maker; b. 10 July 1846 in Trout River (Tyne Valley), P.E.I., son of Thomas Gorman and Ann Donahue; m. first 5 Nov. 1891 Mary Mahoney, née O’Neal (d. 1896), in Ellsworth, Maine; m. secondly 7 Sept. 1897 Julia Lynch (d. 1928) in Bangor, Maine; there were no children of either marriage; d. 31 Aug. 1917 in Brewer, Maine, and was buried in Mount Pleasant Cemetery, Bangor.

The son of Irish immigrants in a basically English community, Larry Gorman had no more than the usual common-school education of the time and grew up working at whatever was available, which meant farming, fishing, and seasonally going off to the mainland to work in the lumber-woods. His travels took him first to the Miramichi area of New Brunswick and, after about 1885, to Maine. In Maine he lived initially in Ellsworth, working in the woods and on the drives along the Union River; then around 1900 he moved to Brewer (probably because his wife wanted to be nearer to her family in Bangor), where he was employed both in the Penobscot lumber-woods and in the sawmills and pulp mills of south Brewer.

Like his fellow Islander Lawrence Doyle, Gorman was known for his local song making, but whereas Doyle’s stock-in-trade was the rather gentle and good-natured spoof, Gorman’s was invective, ranging from satires on such general topics as riches or morals to vicious personal insults directed at those who he felt had slighted him in some way. Of the former, a verse from “Barren town,” made up in New Brunswick “to speak my mind on womenkind,” is a fair sample:

Now they’ll marry a man, it’s if they can,
And keeping house they’ll go;
Till all at once they’ll shove on style,
Let the wages be high or low.
And it’s all for a cake they cannot bake –
It is fun to see their pies –
And they’ll swear that the flour is poor and sour,
And the dough it will not rise.

Of the ad hominem attacks (his usual métier), a stanza from “The gull decoy” – a song he made on Prince Edward Island about a man rumoured to have cheated him of his proper wages – will set the tone:

My oldest brother I did him torture,
I tortured him ’till he had to fly,
All on account of the girl he married,
And still in anger I did rage.
To the place where his child was buried
I went by night and dug up the grave.

He was widely known as “the man who makes the songs,” an epithet he chose and then popularized by working it into many of his verses. It is said that people were afraid of him, and it is not hard to believe that his presence in camp or community would be a matter of some apprehension. He caught that attitude nicely in “The scow on Cowden shore,” a song that is a series of satirical portraits of the men working on the sorting boom on the Miramichi River:

I have got many’s the foe
and the same I do know,
So amongst them all I go,
and it grieves their hearts full sore;
For I know that they could shoot me,
’criminate or prosecute me,
But they kindly salute me
’round the scow on Cowden shore.

Satirical song has been a strong working-class tradition not only in Canada and the United States but also in the British Isles. Since the songs themselves are extremely topical, they usually do not outlive the persons and events they celebrate. It is the tradition of making them – who makes them, why, what are the models, what is their impact, and so on – that should interest the folklorist and others studying social history. Gorman is important – with one qualification – to such study in that he embodies the entire process, the qualification being that he himself was so sensitive, so ready to take offence, that the general social import of his efforts is somewhat diminished. On the other hand, his lonely and cantankerous career can usefully serve as an antidote to easy generalities about “the folk” or “the folk process.”

Edward D. Ives





Dictionary of Canadian Biography

More detailed information on Gorman may be found in Edward D. Ives, Larry Gorman: the man who made the songs (Bloomington, Ind., 1964; repr. New York, 1977, and Fredericton, 1993).

 


Dictionary of Canadian Biography

THE MIRAMICHI FIRE
by John Jardine

This is the truth, that I now tell you
For mine eyes in part did see
What did happen to the people
On the banks of the Miramichi.

The seventh evening of October,
Eighteen hundred twenty-five,
Two hundred people fell by fire;
Scourged those that did survive.

Some said it was because the people’s
Sins did rise to mountain high,
Which did ascend up to Jehovah,
He would not see and justify.

In order to destroy their lumber
And the country to distress,
He sent a fire in a whirlwind
From the heaving wilderness.

‘Twas on the Nor’West first discovered,
Twenty-two men there did die
When it had swept o’er the Meadows,
To Newcastle it did fly.

While the people were a-sleeping,
Fire seized upon the town,
Though fine and handsome was the village,
It soon tumbled to the ground.

It burnt three vessels that were building,
And two more at anchor lay,
Many that did see the fire,
Thought it was the Judgement Day. Read More
THE MIRAMICHI FIRE
by John Jardine

This is the truth, that I now tell you
For mine eyes in part did see
What did happen to the people
On the banks of the Miramichi.

The seventh evening of October,
Eighteen hundred twenty-five,
Two hundred people fell by fire;
Scourged those that did survive.

Some said it was because the people’s
Sins did rise to mountain high,
Which did ascend up to Jehovah,
He would not see and justify.

In order to destroy their lumber
And the country to distress,
He sent a fire in a whirlwind
From the heaving wilderness.

‘Twas on the Nor’West first discovered,
Twenty-two men there did die
When it had swept o’er the Meadows,
To Newcastle it did fly.

While the people were a-sleeping,
Fire seized upon the town,
Though fine and handsome was the village,
It soon tumbled to the ground.

It burnt three vessels that were building,
And two more at anchor lay,
Many that did see the fire,
Thought it was the Judgement Day.

Twelve more men were burnt by fire
In the compass of that town;
Twenty-five more on the water
In a scow upset and drowned.

A family below Newcastle
Were destroyed among the rest,
Father, mother and three children,
One an infant at the breast.

Thirteen families were residing
Just out back of Gretna Green,
All of them were burnt by fire,
Only one alive was seen.

Then it passed to Black River,
Where it did burn sixty more;
So it forced its way with fury
Till it reached the briny shore.

Forty-two miles by one hundred
This great fire did extend;
All was done within eight hours,
Not exceeding over ten.

As I have spoke of things collective,
Now I intend to personate,
And speak of some of my acquaintance,
With whom I was intimate.

A lady was drove to the water,
Where she stood both wet and cold,
Notwithstanding her late illness,
Had a babe but three days old.

Six young men, both smart and active,
Were to work on the Nor’West,
When they saw the fire coming,
To escape it tried their best.

About two miles from where their camp stood
They were found each one of them,
But to paint their sad appearance,
I cannot with tongue or pen.

To see these fine, these blooming young men,
All lay dead upon the ground,
And their brothers standing mourning,
Spread a dismal scene around.

Then we dug a grave and buried
Those whom did the fire burn;
Then each of us who are living
To our dwelling did return.

I heard the sighs, the cries and groaning,
Saw the falling of the tears;
By me this will not be forgotten,
Should I live a hundred years.

Sisters weeping for their brothers,
Father crying for his son,
And with bitter, heartfelt sorrow,
Said the mother, “I’m undone!”

It killed the wild beast of the forest,
In the river many fish.
Such another horrid fire,
See again I do not wish. 



A few days after the disaster, John Jardine of Black River wrote his narrative in verse of the Great Fire. Sung to a slow, durge-like tune, the ballad is still well known in Miramichi

- Louise Manny, Songs of Miramichi, pp. 145 - 148


© 1968, Brunswick Press. All Rights Reserved.

The remains of what is believed to be a tree burned during the Miramichi Fire of 1825.

One of two remaining trees believed to have been burned by the great Miramichi Fire of 1825, on display at the Central New Brunswick Woodsmen's Museum in Boiestown.

Central New Brunswick Woodsmen's Museum
c. 1825
New Brunswick, CANADA
© 2007, Central New Brunswick Woodsmen's Museum. All Rights Reserved.


WHERE ARE YOU GOING, MY LITTLE BOY?

1. “Where are you going, my little boy?”
I’m going, you’re going, we’re passing.
“I’m going right to school
To learn the word of God.”
Thus said the child seven years old.

2. “What is higher than the trees?”
I’m going, you’re going, we’re passing.
“The sky is higher than the tree,
The sun in the firmament.”
Thus said the child seven years old.

3. “What is deeper than the sea?”
“Hell is a hundred times deeper,
Hell with its eternal fires.”

4. “What grows on our lands?
“Oats and golden wheat,
Chestnuts and pears.”

5. “What will you do when you grow up?”
“I will till the fields
To feed my wife and child.”






WHERE ARE YOU GOING, MY LITTLE BOY?

1. “Where are you going, my little boy?”
I’m going, you’re going, we’re passing.
“I’m going right to school
To learn the word of God.”
Thus said the child seven years old.

2. “What is higher than the trees?”
I’m going, you’re going, we’re passing.
“The sky is higher than the tree,
The sun in the firmament.”
Thus said the child seven years old.

3. “What is deeper than the sea?”
“Hell is a hundred times deeper,
Hell with its eternal fires.”

4. “What grows on our lands?
“Oats and golden wheat,
Chestnuts and pears.”

5. “What will you do when you grow up?”
“I will till the fields
To feed my wife and child.”





The Acadian folklore naturally has much in common with that of the Quebecois, but it also has some individual characteristics. “Où vas-tu, mon petit garçon?” was one that Father Pierre Arsenault had learned from his mother and gave to Dr. Barbeau in 1924. It is a French version of the ancient ballad known in English as “The False Knight Upon the Road” (Child 3) and, as it is unique in Canada, this suggests that the Acadians, hearing it from their Scottish neighbours, may have translated it into their own language.


Edith Fowke, Folklore of Canada. McClelland & Stewart, 1976, pp. 70 - 73

© 1976, McClelland & Stewart. All Rights Reserved.

THE SERGEANT

1. “Papa, if you beat me I will go to enlist
On the side of the Bostonians to fight the English.”
To Boston he went: “How many men fired away?”
“Do you want to hire me as a warlike sergeant?”

2. “Yes, we’ll hire you if you’ll be a good boy.
We’re going to put you there at the head of the army.”
A sword at his side and a pistol in his hand
François marched ahead like a brave sergeant.

3. At the first volley his jawbone was broken.
François fell on his face: they shouted: “Hurray!”
But he raised himself up: “How many men fired away?”
It’s not necessary to stop for a wounded sergeant.

4. François wailed to his dear and good papa
That he had been wounded by a shot from a grenadier.
“Didn’t I tell you that you’d die by the gun?
Now there you are, pick yourself up as well as you can.”



THE SERGEANT

1. “Papa, if you beat me I will go to enlist
On the side of the Bostonians to fight the English.”
To Boston he went: “How many men fired away?”
“Do you want to hire me as a warlike sergeant?”

2. “Yes, we’ll hire you if you’ll be a good boy.
We’re going to put you there at the head of the army.”
A sword at his side and a pistol in his hand
François marched ahead like a brave sergeant.

3. At the first volley his jawbone was broken.
François fell on his face: they shouted: “Hurray!”
But he raised himself up: “How many men fired away?”
It’s not necessary to stop for a wounded sergeant.

4. François wailed to his dear and good papa
That he had been wounded by a shot from a grenadier.
“Didn’t I tell you that you’d die by the gun?
Now there you are, pick yourself up as well as you can.”


The Sergeant obviously dates from the period of the American Revolution. French Canadians chose to remain under British rule, for the Quebec Act of 1774 had guaranteed them religious freedom and French civil law; but a few discontented individuals did make their way south to join Washington’s army and fight their traditional enemy. However, most French Canadians regarded such actions as foolish, and that attitude is reflected in this little song about a young fellow who, despite his father’s warnings, decides to run off to Boston to fight the English. He gets banged up in the war and comes home to Papa, who says, “I told you so!”

- Edith Fowke, Folklore of Canada, McClelland & Stewart, 1976, pp. 71, 74 - 75.

© 1976, McClelland & Stewart. All Rights Reserved.

Learning Objectives

Learners will understand the origins and the originators of folk music particular to New Brunswick.

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