Welcome to ‘Disasters Songs in Canada,’ the website that serves to present the Atlantic Canadian disaster songs currently being studied by ethnomusicologist Heather Sparling. This site is designed to share findings with a broader public but also invite a broader public to work with me in augmenting and correcting the collection. I welcome your input!
My collection of Atlantic Canadian disaster songs now numbers more than 500! Performers range from the relatively unknown to famous contemporary artists such as Sarah Harmer (“Westray”, a song about a 1992 Nova Scotia mining disaster) and Ron Hynes’ “Atlantic Blue” (about the 1982 sinking of the Ocean Ranger). Incidents in songs range across time, from the pre-confederation era, such as the New Brunswick blaze of 1825 (“The Miramichi Fire,” credited to John Jardine), to the 2013 sinking of the Miss Ally off of Nova Scotia.
The project is limited to Atlantic Canadian disaster songs primarily as a means to manage its scope. 500 songs is a lot! Although we are keen to include songs in any language, it has been easiest to identify English-language songs, and the English-language ballad tradition has also resulted in a large number of disaster songs. English-language songs therefore constitute the majority of our collection. Although many of the songs from the collection are presented here, others are not due to missing information. You can help! Please get in touch via the comment section underneath each song, via email.