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The Miramichi Fire

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The Miramichi Fire

It is the truth what I now tell you
For my eyes did partly see
What did happen to the people
On the banks of Miramichi;
What did happen to the people
On the banks of Miramichi.

On the seventeenth evening of October
Eighteen hundred and twenty-five
Thousands of people fell by fire
Scorched were those that did survive.

Some said it was the sins of people
And their sins rolled mountains high;
Which did ascend up to Jehovah
He would see and justify.

In order to destroy our lumber
And our country to distress
He sent the fire in a whirlwind
From the howling wilderness.

First on the nor'west was discovered
Twenty-two there then did die,
After it had swept o'er the meadows
To Newcastle it did fly.

While the people were a-sleeping
Fire seized upon their town,
Fine and handsome were their dwellings
Soon they tumbled to the ground.

It burned three ships that were a-building
And two more at anchor lay,
Many that had seen the fire
Thought it was the judgment day.

Twelve more men were burnt by fire
In the compass of that town,
Twenty-five more on the water
In a scow upset and drowned.

A family below Newcastle
Were destroyed among the rest,
Father, mother, and three children,
One an infant at the breast.

Thirteen families were residing
Just out back of Gretna Green,
All of them were burnt by fire,
Only one alive was seen.

Then it passed to Black River,
Where it did burn sixty more
So it forced its way with fury
Till it reached the briny shore.

Forty-two miles by one hundred
This great fire did extend;
All was done within eight hours
Not exceeding over ten.

As I have spoke of things collective
Now I intend to personate
And speak of some of my acquaintance
Of whom I was intimate.

A lady was drove to the water,
Where she stood both wet and cold,
Notwithstanding her iate illness,
Had a babe but three days old.

Six young men, both smart and active,
Were to work on the nor'west,
When they saw the fire coming,
To escape it tried their best.

About two miles from where their camp stood
They were found each one of them
But to paint their sad appearance
I cannot with tongue or pen.

To see these fine, these blooming young men
All lay dead upon the ground
And their brothers standing mourning
Spread a dismal scene around.

Then we dug a grave and buried
Those whom the fire did burn
Then each of us that are living
To our dwelling did return.

I heard the sighs, the cries and groaning
Saw the falling of the tears,
By me this will not be forgotten
Should I live a hundred years.

Sisters weeping for their brothers,
Father crying for his son,
And with bitter, heartfelt sorrow,
Said the mother, "I'm undone!"

It killed the wild beasts of the forests
In the rivers many fish
Such another horrid fire
See again I do not wish.

From Maritime Folk Songs, Creighton
Collected from Jean McDonald, NB 1953
DT #324
Laws G24

Thanks to Mudcat for the Digital Tradition!

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