Louise Manny explaining about Lord Beaverbrook's favourite song - The Jones Boys

Oh! The Jones Boys, they built a mill
On the side of a hill,
And they worked all night, and they worked all day,
But they couldn’t make the gosh-darned saw mill pay.

It seems to have been a Miramichi custom in the 1880s and 1890s to make up satiric songs about the Jones Boys and their mills. Lord Beaverbrook remembered with delight the above fragment which he had heard sung on the Newcastle streets when he was a boy. He himself often sang it on convivial occasions, claiming it was his wife’s favourite song. When he gave the quarter-hour chimes to the University of New Brunswick in the late 1940s, he arranged for them to play his tune of The Jones Boys.

During World War II, His Lordship used the Miramichi song as a sort of ice-breaker at international meetings. It is said he taught it to all the diplomats he knew, from Churchill to Molotov, and that many a tense meeting on which the fate of nations depended, was eased by the rousing song of the Miramichi boys and their unlucky saw-mill. [It was suggested] that when Molotov joined in the song with gusto, it was because he thought it celebrated the downfall of the capitalist system.

John Jones, father of the Jones boys, came out from Camborne, Cornwall, in 1840, when he was 34 years old. He settled first in Chatham, where his son James was born in 1844. Shortly afterwards, the Jones family moved up to a brook flowing into the Nor’West Miramichi, which then took the name of Jones’s Brook. There John Jones built a grist mill to serve the community, and raised a family of ten children.

John Senior died in 1866, and his sons, James and John Junior took over the business, James managing the grist mill, and John a sawmill near by. Both the mills were run by water power from the brook. When a section of the Intercolonial Railway was built across the Jones property about 1870, the name of the locality became Jones’s Crossing, which it still bears.

John Jones, Junior, died in 1940, aged 96, at his home at Jones’s Crossing. He was the last surviving member of the family of ten. 

Louise Manny, Songs of Miramichi,  pp. 124-5

Louise Manny
c. 1968
New Brunswick, CANADA
© 1968, Brunswick Press. All Rights Reserved.

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