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Lyr Add: Anti-Confederation Song

Joe Offer 16 Oct 18 - 05:23 PM
Joe Offer 16 Oct 18 - 05:52 PM
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Subject: Lyr Add: Anti-Confederation Song
From: Joe Offer
Date: 16 Oct 18 - 05:23 PM

I've come across this song a number of times since it's at the top of the list for the Traditional Ballad Index. I know little about the anti-Confederation movement, so I thought I ought to learn. Here goes.


1. Hurrah for our own native isle, Newfoundland!
Not a stranger shall hold one inch of its strand!
Her face turns to Britain, her back to the Gulf.
Come near at your peril, Canadian Wolf!

2. Ye brave Newfoundlanders who plough the salt sea
With hearts like the eagle so bold and so free,
The time is at hand when you’ll all have to say
If Confederation will carry the day.

3. Cheap tea and molasses they say they will give,
All taxes take off that the poor man may live;
Cheap nails and cheap lumber our coffins to make,
And homespun to mend our old clothes when they break.

4. If they take off the taxes how then will they meet
The heavy expense of the country’s up-keep?
Just give them the chance to get us in the scrape
And they’ll chain us as slaves with pen, ink, and red tape.

5. Would you barter the right that your fathers have won,
Your freedom transmitted from father to son?
For a few thousand dollars of Canadian gold
Don’t let it be said that your birthright was sold.

    Notes: This defiant snarl at the “Canadian Wolf” throws some light on the reasons why Newfoundland did not ioin Confederation until March 31, 1949. Newfoundland delegates took part in the negotiations leading up to the British North America Act of 1867, but when the question was put to the Newfoundland electors in 1869 the “Confederates” were defeated by the “Anti-Confederates.” The issue was revived during the financial crisis of the 1890’s and again during World War I, but nothing came of it. Finally, in 1948, a vote was taken in which Confederation did “carry the day.”
    The anti-Confederation feeling sprang partly from the Newfoundlanders’ pride in their history as Britain’s first overseas colony and their desire to remain independent, and partly from the self-interest of some St. John’s businessmen who feared that union would destroy their preferred position behind Newfoundland’s tariff wall. The government had been financed almost entirely from customs duties which ran up the prices on everything the fishermen had to buy, and the argument that Confederation would bring “cheap tea and molasses” had considerable validity.
    The tune of this song is also used for another Newfoundland ditty called “Concerning One Summer in Bonay I Spent”. Another song in a similar vein, “The ‘Antis’ of Plate Cove”, describes the battles and high feelings, that accompanied the 1869 election.

Source: Folk Songs of Canada, by Edith Fulton Fowke and Richard Johnston, pp 28-29 (Waterloo Music Company, 1954)

Click to play (joeweb)

And here's the Traditional Ballad Index entry:

Anti-Confederation Song (I)

DESCRIPTION: Newfoundland defiantly rejects union with the "Canadian Wolf." The promises made by the confederation are listed and rejected. "Would you barter the rights that your fathers have won... For a few thousand dollars of Canadian gold."
AUTHOR: unknown
EARLIEST DATE: 1940 (Doyle2)
KEYWORDS: Canada patriotic political
1867 - Canadian Act of Confederation
1869 - Newfoundland electors refuse to join the Canadian Confederation
1949 - Newfoundland unites with Canada
FOUND IN: Canada(Newf)
REFERENCES (7 citations):
Fowke/Johnston, pp. 28-29, "Anti-Confederation Song" (1 text, 1 tune)
Fowke/MacMillan 7, "An Anti-Confederation Song" (1 text, 1 tune)
Doyle2, p. 69, "Anti-Confederation Song" (1 text, 1 tune)
Doyle4, p. 64, "Anti-Confederation Song" (1 text, 1 tune)
Doyle5, p. 55, "Anti-Confederation Song" (1 text, 1 tune)
Blondahl, p. 42, "The Anti-Confederation Song" (1 text, 1 tune)
Fowke/Mills/Blume, pp. 105-107, "An Anti-Confederation Song" (1 text, 1 tune)

ST FJ028 (Partial)
Roud #4518
Omar Blondahl, "An 1861 Anti Confederation Song" (on NFOBlondahl04)
cf. "The 'Antis' of Plate Cove" (subject) and notes there
cf. "Anti-Confederation Song (II)" (subject of Canadian Confederation, as it was in 1949)
File: FJ028

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The Ballad Index Copyright 2018 by Robert B. Waltz and David G. Engle.

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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Anti-Confederation Song
From: Joe Offer
Date: 16 Oct 18 - 05:52 PM

The Penguin Book of Canadian Folk Songs (Edith Fowke, 1973 - #7, pp. 28-29) has the exact same song text and music notation, but it has interesting notes

    7. An Anti-Confederation Song Doyle (1940) 69
    In the 1860s the separate British colonies in North America began to discuss a federal union, and in 1867 the Dominion of Canada was established with four provinces: Ontario, Quebec, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick. Delegates from Newfoundland had attended the Quebec Conference at which the federation was planned, but many islanders did not want to give up their separate status. In 1869 a heated election was fought on the issue. Those favouring confederation argued that union would bring lower prices, for high customs duties ran up the cost of everything the Newfoundlanders had to buy. The Anti-Confederates countered by telling the fishermen that Canada would be able to tax their boats and gear, and might even place an export duty on their fish. The campaign was hectic and noisy, and the Anti-Confederates used lively songs to put their arguments across. The result was that the Anti-Confederates elected twenty-one out of thirty candidates, and Newfoundland did not become part of Canada for another eighty years.

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