Ballad of the Barbara and Ronnie


In Summer time, in Summer time
How gently winds can blow
And boats from Glace Bay Harbour
To fishing grounds will go
There’s boats in port from Newfoundland
Main-a-Dieu and Scaterie
For to the friendly fishermen
Cape Breton ports are free

In the spring of fifty-one
Walter Bond was in command
Of the boat, Barbara and Ronnie
From Petites, in Newfoundland
And with his crew of seven men
Went fishing from Glace Bay
And when the season ended
The big boat sailed away.

“We shall run down to Ingonish,”
Said Captain Walter Bond
And get the freight aboard, my boys,
It will not take us long.
Then strike across for Newfoundland,
Be home for Christmas Day.”
Ere the evening shadows fell
They left the quiet bay.

Six men were on the boat that day
With Captain Walter Bond
Charlie and Kenneth Courtney
To Petites they did belong
Ward Mauger and Richard Gosse
Were from that village too
And Russell Billard from Grand Bruit
Were members of the crew.

Tom Bennett went on board the boat
Just before she sailed away
A real good chance to cross the Gulf
To spend the Christmas day
And friends along the water front
Shall never understand
Why the boat went into Ingonish
On the way to Newfoundland.

In winter time, in winter time
How fiercely winds can blow
And heavy seas will lash the shores
As many a sailor knows
On the eighteenth of December
The winds a hurricane blew
And men feared for the safety
Of the captain and his crew.

“Oh Mother dear,” the children cry,
Where is our father’s boat?
He said that he was coming home
The last time that he wrote.”
Grief stricken was the mother’s heart
Their father and his crew
Were cradled in their ocean bed
Beneath the waters blue.

The people that work on the shore
Can never understand
That seamen have a comradeship
Not shared by men on land;
The fishermen from Glace Bay port
Send sympathy to you
That mourn the loss of Captain Bond
And the members of his crew.

Oh many are the secrets
That are hidden by the sea
And men entrusted to her care
She guards most tenderly
Only the stars that shine above
And the restless ocean know
Where the Barbara Ronnie foundered
When the winter winds did blow.


Walsh, Lillian Crewe. 2006. Cape Breton’s Lillian Crewe Walsh: A Treasury of Ballads and Poems. Wreck Cove, NS: Breton Books. (p17-19)

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