Showing posts with label songs. Show all posts
Showing posts with label songs. Show all posts

Friday, June 19, 2015

Johnny Poker - A Boat Hauling Song

I’m currently typing the notes from the Asset Mapping workshop Dale led in Champney’s West and I came across the song Johnny Poker.  It is noted as a traditional song that people would sing when they pulled boats up.  Sometimes people would pull back on the boat so they could hear the Johnny Poker song.

The version which is written in the notes is:
“To my jolly poker
We will start this heavy joker
Haul boy haul” [everybody pulls]

The notes say there are 4-5 versions of the song.  I did a quick search and came across a version by Stuffed Squid set to music.  I’ve added the video here and you can check out the page with the lyrics and some background information here.

Do you know a version of Johnny Poker? Let us know in the comments or send an email to


Tuesday, February 24, 2015

King William was King George’s son

I wrote an article in The Telegram a while back about traditional Newfoundland children's singing games.  It included a version of "King William was King George’s son." 

Colin Burke, now of Port au Port, sent me his version, which was sung in St. Jacques, Fortune Bay, circa 1950-1952.

King William was King George’s son,
Of all the royal race he’d won.
Upon his breast a star he wore
Pointing to the government’s door *
Come choose you east, come choose you west,
Come choose the one that you love best.
Down on this carpet you must kneel
As the grass grows in the field,
Kiss your partner if you please
Now you may rise up off your knees.

Burke notes: 
* (or maybe government store, which is what I seemed to hear)I was about six or seven years old, and there was a “government store” at the government wharf.

The King William in question is probably William IV (William Henry; 21 August 1765 – 20 June 1837) - King of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland and of Hanover from 26 June 1830 until his death, the third son of George III. The image above is William in dress uniform painted by Sir Martin Archer Shee, c.1800, from the book The National Portrait Gallery History of the Kings and Queens of England by David Williamson

UPDATE: 6 March 2015

Gloria Marguerite Bobbitt from Harrington Harbour, on Quebec's Lower North Shore, writes:

The people from Newfoundland must have brought the song/game over to Harrington Harbour when they came over here. We always played it in the summer time. Here is our version. 

King William was King George's son,
Upon the royal racy run,
Upon his breast he wore a star,
In the kissing time of war.
Come choose to the east,
Come choose to the west,
Choose the very one you love best.
Upon this carpet you must kneel,
As sure as the grass grows in the field,
Kiss your partner as your sweet,
Now you may stand upon your feet.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

The Protest Songs of Quidi Vidi

Confronting change can be a major challenge for the long-time residents of any community. Across the province, for residents of rural and urban communities alike, it's a struggle that many have experienced. For the residents of Quidi Vidi Village, for example, this kind of challenge has been persisting over several years. In terms of change around land use and development, it seems that the village is beyond the point of no return. During a recent series of oral history interviews I conducted "in the gut," many present and former residents reflected fondly on the village's past, but also stressed the negative impact of such drastic change, on both a personal level and on the welfare of the greater community.

Something that everyone can recall is how the community banded together to resist a development plan that was poised to alter the social and physical landscape that they had always known and loved. Here are a few protest songs written and performed by community members when a controversial waterfront housing project was underway. When these songs were being written, they didn't know yet what we know now: this development was going to happen, whether or not the community members were singing their songs... but as one former resident pointed out, "You can't say we didn't try!" To me, these are beautiful songs. They show creativity and integrity in the face of adversity, and represent the powerful ties that people tend to feel to where they are from.

We're Standing Up to Save the Gut, provided by Ed and Joan Soper.

Destruction Zone, composed by Kim and Judy, provided by Ed and Joan Soper.

Have members of your community written any protest songs? What are the issues and changes that you have confronted where you live? Feel free to contact me with your songs and stories. I'd love to know more. Contact