Folklorist Neil Rosenberg corresponded with both Jack Kingston and Roy Rudolph, who both wrote songs about Springhill mining disasters. Rudolph suspected that Kingston was commissioned to write a song about the 1956 Springhill disaster by a competing company after his own song, “Miracle at Springhill,” was sent to Toronto by Rodeo to be pressed. Rosenberg suggests that Kingston was an obvious choice for such a commission since he had had a national hit with an event song about Marilyn Bell’s swim across Lake Ontario two years prior.
According to Kingston, who claimed to know nothing about Rudolph’s song when he wrote his own, he had performed at Springhill only a month prior to the explosion while touring nationally with Wilf Carter. He remembered being treated hospitably by local residents and therefore followed the news reports avidly. He went to the radio station where he worked and gathered all the news reports of the disaster. The explosion occurred on a Thursday and by the following Tuesday, he had completed a song. He called Quality Records and recorded it that night. It was released that Friday. Kingston performed it on the Main Street Jamboree radio show that Saturday as well as at a Toronto concert for 1,200 on Sunday. Apparently, the song was never widely distributed in the Maritimes but was popular in western Canada.
Citation: Rosenberg, Neil V. 2000. The Springhill Mine Disaster Songs: Class, Memory, and Persistence in Canadian Folksong. In Northeast Folklore: Essays in Honor of D. Ives, ed. Pauleena MacDougall and David Taylor, 153-87. Orono, ME: University of Maine Press & Maine Folklife Center.
It was Thursday the first of November, 1956 was the year
From Springhill, Nova Scotia, the sad news we did hear
An explosion there did happen, at the entrance to the mine
To save the lives of those within, it was a race with time
Well over a hundred miners were trapped in Colliery four
And hope of their survival grew dimmer by the hour
Wives and families huddled ’round the pithead in the cold
The tears they shed, the prayers they said, can never be retold
For hours and hours they worked away, to reach them it was slow
Brave Draeger men were lost in vain to save the ones below
Hope grew fainter for their lives when Friday it was gone,
But Saturday brought new hope and joy, a few hours after dawn
The clouds that covered up the sky let through the sun to shine
They knew the Lord had heard their prayers, the first man walked from the mine
It soon was learned that more below were surely still alive
And hope grew strong as time went on that all trapped men would survive
Thank God so many did escape from the poisonous gas-filled mine
Thanks to the Draeger men who helped reach most of the men in time
We pray to God to comfort those who lost their loved ones dear
When the Springhill mine explosion brought sorrow, death and fear