Port Hood Mine Shaft Disaster

Although I don’t have a recording of this particular song, it is sung to the tune of “The Irish Immigrant”:



In nineteen hundred and twenty-two
On the fourth day of July
In an old abandoned mining shaft
At the town of Port Hood Mine
That death which covers where’er we be
To the rich and poor alike
Has smitten down three noble lives
And filled our hearts with grief.

Come listen wives and mothers
On you will shed a tear
When you hear my sad story
Oh what has happened here;
How a boy and his father
And their neighbour friend so dear
Met death from poison damp
In an unguarded mine.

It was young James MacDonald
A bright and loving child
Who fell down that unguarded shaft
Into that gassy mine;
How his father and his neighbour
Braved death to save that child
And their widows and their orphans
Do complete the sacrifice.

Young James was a diligent lad
He had worked the morning through
To help his honest father
His part he’d always do;
How little did his mother think
About the hour of noon
Before five minutes would pass by
That death would claim her boy.

Dan R. MacDonald, their neighbour,
One of God’s own mankind,
Volunteered that he would save him,
And go into the mine
He hailed the boy’s father
Who worked out on the line
And together they descended
To death, just in their prime.

Those two men had descended
Perhaps thirty feet or more
When those who around the shaft
To their horror did behold
Those two did fall unconscious
Laid there so still and prone
There was no one there to save them
Or risk to go below.

A word of praise won’t be amiss
For those who risk their lives
For of any such heroes
Their praises go unsung
But the true character knows them
“Has written on a scroll
“Where time will not erase them
He knows them one and all.

Oh you can better imagine
Because I can’t describe
How hardened hearts were melted
At grief’s unfathomed woe
While brothers wept for brothers
And sisters and children mourned
And mothers’ agonizing grief
For husbands and for son.

Alex MacDonald was a good man
As he was brave and strong
His time was never wasted
In idle, careless wrong
His friends, they were many
His enemies, they were few
He left a golden heritage
Upon his dying day.

Of Dan R. Macdonald
His merits you can pretell
He was a noble father
A husband good and kind
He showed until all mankind
His Love for God sincere
For the haughty eye shall seek in vain
What the true heart beholds
No cunning finds the keys of heaven
No strength its gates unfold.

Oh, fare you well, brave Alex
Your career on earth is run
No more you’ll greet your comrades
Along the railway line;
It’s true they sadly miss you
And duly sympathize
With the saddened wife and children
That you have left behind.

Too late came one we won’t pass by
His name is McDonnell
He bravely tried to save them
And went into the mine
But all his efforts were in vain
For he was soon overcome
We thank our God this noble boy
Brought back with him his life.

Oh, brave Dan R., farewell to you
A long and sad farewell
Yours was noble generous heart
Within a stalwart frame
Your sacrifice it was supreme
And the lord himself foretold
That a martyr’s crown for such as you
Before the holy throne.

Oh, fare-you-well young James
You were loved by young and old
No more your happy carefree face
It’s accustomed place shall fill
Maybe that God has called you home
Before an earthly strain
Has tarnished your poor loving soul
With any earthly blame.

It was in St. Peter’s Cemetery
We sadly laid them down
While multitudes of mourners
They all did crowd around
To pay a last tribute
To those heroic men
Whose lives were deeds of valour
And kindness to all men.

Sleep on my noble friends, sleep on
In your sad and lonely graves
For your wives and children cries
We pray in the hereafter
We all may meet again
Where death it hath no power
To cause us any pain.

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