There’s a story I know you’ve heard before,
but I must tell again,
‘Bout a schooner out of Fortune Bay
and her brave fishermen;
One of the last of a dying breed
to dory-fish the Banks,
I’ll tell you the fateful story
of the schooner Marshall Frank.
She was built in 1926 in Lunenburg’s fair port,
By Smith and Rhuland where the Bluenose keel
was laid some years before;
She carried eleven dories, was nearly eighty tons,
Owned first by Captain Risser
and named after the Captain’s son.
This story that my song will tell
took place in forty-nine,
When owned by Mister James Petite
and Skipper Abraham Miles;
In February, set to sail with twenty-six in crew,
From Fortune Bay to Halifax
to take some fish on route.
She left the Isle of Ramea
and trawled the Burgeo Ledge,
By the time they reached Cape Breton’s shore
stowed 20 tons of fish;
‘Round three AM, in a gale and snow,
this schooner came to grief,
Near Gabarus off the Framboise shore
on the Mary Joseph reef.
With her starboard side fast on the rocks,
and the raging sea to port,
None of the crew could see how
they could safely reach the shore;
To launch a dory in such strife
which braced their win’ard side,
Would take a miracle to do,
but they had no choice but try.
For us on land to understand
how anyone survived,
How four trusty dories
safely launched with 21 alive;
In the thick of snow and sleet
they thought they heard the fearful cries,
Of the five who were the last to leave
the Marshall Frank behind.
Rowing hard to sea and not to land
seemed very strange to do,
But a lifetime watching nature’s whims
can save a seasoned crew;
When daylight came, though stormy yet,
they made a run to reach,
To the safety of the good dry land
along the Framboise beach.
All but the crew in dory five
made it safely to the shore,
And soon to find their comrades dear
awash among the foam;
Garfield Greene and Norman Ball
were lost I’m sad to say,
With three Blagdons: Conrad, Leo and John,
who hailed from Fortune Bay.
I wish I could in these few lines
name every gallant man,
Still the good folk here in Fortune Bay
remembers them today;
But I do have Charlie Skinner
and Leo Pope to thank,
For this sad yet happy story of
the schooner Marshall Frank.
With gratitude to GEST Songs of NL for the lyrics.