The Loss of the Marion



Recorded by Simani (Heaven By Sea, trk#6, 1990, SWC Productions, English Harbour West, NL).


In 1915, on the tenth day of June,
At Burke’s wharf the Marion lay,
Prepared for the Banks as was custom to do,
All loaded with caplin for bait.

The wind from the northwest, a fine summer breeze,
As Ike Jones from St. Jacques he steered;
And the boys in the focsle made plans for that night,
When they’d all go ashore in St. Pierre.

Some were uneasy, there’d be trouble they said,
‘Cause Ike Jones was noted to fight;
And at the Café de France on the last trip he made,
A Frenchman had threatened his life.

The challenge to fight was issued that night,
While the cheap French liquor ran free;
The French captain then warned the Marion’s men,
He would answer their challenge at sea.

Next day the Marion set sail again,
And so to the story relays;
The French beam trawler weighed anchor as well,
And followed close by in her wake.

She’s a Fortune Bay schooner heading out for the Banks,
With fine hardy Fortune Bay men;
But some on the Cape were rumoured to say,
She’d never be heard from again.

The fate that befell the Marion’s crew,
And their schooner will never be known;
Not a trace and no tidings were ever again,
To be heard by those waiting at home.

Some say the Frenchman was true to his word,
Some say he confessed ‘fore he died;
That he scuttled the Marion and settled the debt,
Not taking one man o’er the side.

Families of Skinners and Vallis and Miles,
Grieved for their loved ones on shore;
And the Newfoundland story of loss to the sea,
Was told as so often before.

She’s a Fortune Bay schooner sailing out from St. Jacques,
With a fine crew of Fortune Bay men;
But never no more will she pass by the light,
With her jib flapping into the wind.

No, never no more will she pass by the light,
With her jib flapping into the wind.



From the Dictionary Of Newfoundland English:
Caplin – small, iridescent deep-water fish (Mallotus villosus) like a smelt which, followed by the cod, appears inshore during June and July to spawn along the beaches, and is netted for bait, for manuring the fields, or dried, salted, smoked, or frozen for eating.

From the Marine Institute of Memorial University of Newfoundland and Labrador (MUNFLA) Nautical Terminology and Acronyms:
Focsle– ¹ forward part of a merchant vessel; ² crew’s quarters in forward part of vessel.


GEST Songs from Newfoundland and Labrador

6 responses to “The Loss of the Marion”

  1. John Burke says:

    Thank for telling the story of the Marion…a story we were never told…..Of the Burke Brothers: Thomas was my Grandfather…John

    • Heather Sparling says:

      I’m glad you could learn the story from a song. That’s one of the wonderful things about disaster songs: they document histories that we might otherwise not know.

      • Pat Tobin says:

        Just played for my son, Liam, Thomas’ great-grandson, and John’s grand nephew. Thank you for this source.

  2. shona says:

    Thank you. Vallis boys were from my family.

  3. Dave Rowlands says:

    It’s a great story. I’m a little confused tho….
    Did Ike Jones captain the Marion that day?
    Did he go missing?
    The following list does not include him…

    Banking schooner Marion, of Forune Bay, lost with all hands. (17) viz: –

    Wm. PITTMAN, Doctor’s Harbour, F.B.
    Jno. Geo. CHILDS, English Harbour W., or Boxey.
    Samuel VALLIS, Coombs Cove.
    Morgan MILES, Boxey.
    Frank CLEMS, Boxey.
    Isaac SKINNER, Boxey.
    Arthur MILES, Boxey.
    Thos. PENNEY, English Harbour W.
    Sam. STROWBRIDGE, English Harbour W.
    Thos. R. CHILDS, English Harbour W.
    Angus VALLIS, Coombs Cove.
    Wm. Chas. SKINNER, Boxey.
    Cecil V. FLANDER, English Harbour W.
    Jos. QUINN.
    Wilson SKINNER.
    Thomas HARDY.
    Isaac MILES.

  4. Dwight Andrews says:

    I love this song, I knew it by heart by the time I was 5, at the cabin with my dad, with newfie tunes blaring from a old gettoblaster, while cooking up a scof of potatoes, fresh caribou, carrots…, Damn I loves the rich history of Newfoundland, of the brave souls that challenged the sea to reach the new found land, and fought the harsh elements to carve out a living and life for their families. Even though I’m from Labrador, I consider meself a Newfie, even when other newfies say I’m not cause I’m from Labrador.

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