The Trinity Bay Disaster (Clarence Dewling)
See also: Trinity Bay Disaster (Joe West)

Come all ye fine youngsters and listen to me,
I'll tell of a disaster that happened at sea;
That happened off shore in the year ninety-two,
Just what indeed happened I'll now tell to you.

Now Trinity Bight on the north of the Bay,
Was swarming with swiles on that Saturday;
On Saturday morning (no school, you see),
So boys joined their masters and fathers with glee.

February twenty-seventh - the morning broke clear,
The sun shining brightly, no stir in the air;
The air was so calm and so calm was the sea,
That it beckoned to them like I'd beckon to ye.

Two hundred fifteen of both men and both boys,
Took to their punts with shouts and with cries;
Cries of delight for the first seal hunts,
They took off from shore in some fifty odd punts.

The bullies were manned by a crew about four,
To take the hunters out around five miles from shore;
The shore far behind and the ice out ahead,
Scarce was the man who now felt any dread.

With all the hard pulling they reached the floe soon,
All things were so tranquil right up until noon;
At noon the wind from the northwest did blow,
At hurricane force and then freezing snow.

With the ice heaving madly, the wind blowing wild,
Fear was entertained for each man and each child;
With wind blowing off shore and temperatures dipped low,
'Twas no home or haven out there in the flow.

By nightfall that day the toll was complete,
Twenty-five persons their maker did meet;
Some on the ice and some more on the shore,
Seventeen hunters were seen nevermore.

Small English Harbour took the worst blow,
Forty-nine men in fourteen boats did go;
Thirty-two returned to their families so dear,
While seventeen perished in the bay way out there.

Twenty-eight men made it to the Horse Chops,
Their six boats just made it through ice laden lops;
The lops were so big that half frozen and weak,
The men found in Hay Cove just what they did seek.

They hid in the forest and chewed on some wood,
While two trekked homeward to do what they could;
They could and they did, on them so much relied,
Before rescuers came six more men had died.

While out in the bay with the coming of night,
Boats were pulled on the ice for protection so slight;
Not slight was the wind for the coming of day,
Two had reached Heart's Delight on the South of the Bay.

Captain Dick Fowlow from Trinity East,
Sometime next day before the search ceased;
Found two frozen bodies adrift in a boat,
From Green Bay again they never would float.

The SS Labrador under Captain George Hann,
Brought a hospital patient at Trinity to land;
Gave him over to sealers out there in the Bay,
They have never been heard of right up to this day.

Now, thank you for listening to my story so dear,
Of one terrible happening of that terrible year;
Many are the stories with our history are laced,
Of the dangers so often that our fishermen faced.

####.... Clarence Dewling ....####
Performed publicly for the first time July 1, 1999, at the opening of the Trinity Pageant, a play depicting the history of the Trinity area.

A different version of the Trinity Bay Disaster was composed by Joe West.

From Wikipedia:
Hay Cove - former outport settlement on White Bay.

From the Dictionary of Newfoundland English:
Bully - bluff, two-masted decked boat used on the northeast coast and Labrador for fishing and carrying fish; jack. These boats were about 25 to 30 feet long with a capacity for about 30 quintals of fish. They had two masts and were equipped with a mainsail, foresail, topsail, and sometimes a jib.
Horse Chop(s) - entrance to a cove, especially in place names, indicative of shape; Horse Chop cove is situated about 2 cables southward of the south-western extremity of Powell Island.
Lops - waves thrown up in a stiff breeze or shortly after the subsidence of a storm.
Punt - undecked boat up to 25 ft (7.6 m) in length, round-bottomed and keeled, driven by oars, sail or engine and used variously in the inshore or coastal fishery.
Swiles - seals; also siles, soils, swales, swoils.


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