The Caledonia Explosion

Tune: “Ailie Bain o’ the Glen”



Inspire me, o ye muses, to sing
That tragedy of late,
And cause tears of sympathy
For those poor miners’ fate,
Who while at work have lost thier lives
Down in a dungeon deep,
Thereby causing wives and orphans
Their loss to sorely weep.

Twas on the sixteenth day of June
In eighteen and ninety-nine
That an explosion did occur in the Caledonia mine
Claiming eleven victims
In a most dreadful way
And even yet one lies entombed
Beneath the stones and clay.

Would that I could picture
What must have been their state
At that awful moment when
They met their dreadful fate,
At that awful moment
When summoned to appear
Before the judgment throne of Him
Whom they all did love and fear.

When the alarm was given
And the news was spread around
Soon frantic women and children
Assembled on the ground.
The rain that day in torrents fell
As it seldom fell before;
But hundreds to the scene did flock
With beating hearts and sore.

The pangs that rent those widows’ hearts
Were clearly to be seen
For despair and grief had ta’en the place
Where bliss had lately been.
With pallid cheek and throbbing heart
They hurried here and there
Their grief being such that some of them
Did even tear their hair.

But now the worst is over;
Those men have buried been.
Their funerals were the largest
That ever Glace Bay has seen.
That God may comfort their loved ones,
We fervently do pray,
For in their hearts must ever live
The memory of that day.

From: O’Donnell, And Now the Fields are Green, pp147-9

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