The Omen

This song can be heard on The Men of the Deeps’ Buried Treasure album available on

“The Omen” is an account of an apparent supernatural phenomenon surrounding one of the most significant disasters in Cape Breton’s history. As the final verse indicates, the story of the strange phenomenon of roosters crowing in the evening is still talked about in Cape Breton – half a century after the tragic disaster. (O’Donnell 180)

Citation: O’Donnell, John. 1992. And Now the Fields are Green. Sydney: University College of Cape Breton Press, p179-80.



A tiny town, New Waterford, all nestled by the sea
An omen dire, a shatt’ring blow, this tale was told to me.
The black, black day in Waterford came early in history,
And folks who noticed ponder still this bit of nature’s mystery.

At sunset on one summer eve, all in the after glow,
The roosters all around the town began to crow and crow.
A rooster near, a rooster far took upt he cry in fright;
They crowed as if they’d never stop till dusk turned into night.

Next day at dusk it was the same, the next day and the next,
“Infernal din!” “What can it mean!” The town was sore perplexed.
Twas never heard like this before! They crow at dawn, not eve!
Could common fowl – a rooster – know what man could not perceive?

Bad tidings from the war, some thought, and worried till the day
Brought tasks to overshadow fears for loved ones far away.
Nine days – and ten – eleven days, and still the fearsome din
Each day at sunset rose anew, and nerves were frayed quite thin.

One voiced the fears of many, listening with worried frown,
“What’s coming is disastrous – will affect the entire town!”
Then one day brought the ghastly dread, the one all miners keep
Within their hearts, by day, by night – “Explosion in the deep!”

It happened down in N 12; the blast that shook the town
Saw sixty-five brave miners die, and many hearts bowed down.
Was this what all the crowing meant? This then the portent dire?
What could the lowly rooster know of black damp, death and fire?

That evening no loud din was heard to blight the summer eve;
Instead, indoors, the wailing cry, the sob of the bereaved,
And scarce the home in Waterford in which no tear fell down;
The words were true –t he blow indeed had struck the entire town.

If hindsight could be foresight and the warning understood,
And if it had been heeded, as deadly warning should
Ah! But brave men will always dare to risk their lives at work.
They laugh at danger, scorn to fear, will not be called “a shirk.”

The rooster crows at dawning to greet the newborn day;
Twas always thus: if heard at dusk, a warning will portray;
t’s not mere superstition if you were to believe
The miners ALWAYS should beware when roosters crow at eve!

The tiny town, now grown quite large, as tiny towns will do,
Has older folks still living there who know this tale is true.
That black day in New Waterford came many years ago,
But some who listened wonder still: WHAT made the roosters crow?

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