Come all of you bold shanty boys, And listen while I relate, Concerning a young riverman And his untimely fate, Concerning a young river boss, So handsome, true and brave, ‘Twas on the jam on Gerry’s Rock, He met his watery grave.
“Twas on a Sunday morning, As you will quickly hear, Our logs were piled up mountain high, We could not keep them clear, Our foreman cried, “Turn out, brave boys, With heart avoid of fear We’ll break this jam on Gerry’s Rock, And t’Ellington town we’ll steer.”
Now some of them were willing, And more of them were not, To break the jam on Sunday, For they did not think they ought, While six of our brave Canadian boys Who volunteered to go To break the jam on Gerry’s Rock, With their foreman, young Munroe.
They worked there until nine o’clock, When they heard this young voice say, “I warn you, boys, be on your guard, For the jam will soon give way.” Those words were scarcely spoken, When the jam did break and go, And it carried off these six fine youths With their foreman, young Munroe.
Now when the rest of the shanty boys The sad news they did hear, In search of their brave comrades To the river they did steer. Meanwhile their mangled bodies Down by the stream did flow, While dead and bleeding near the bank Was that of young Munroe.
They took him from his watery grave, Brushed back his raven hair, There was one fair girl amongst them, Whose sad cries (rent the air?) There was a fair girl amongst them Who came from Shigna town Her cries and mourn rose to the sky, Her true love had gone down.
Fair Clara was a noble girl, The riverman’s true friend, Who with her widowed mother Lived near the river’s bend. The wages of her own true love The boss to her did pay, And the shanty boys made up for her, A generous purse next day.
They buried him in sorrow’s death ‘Twas on the first of May, In a green mound by the river side Where grew a hemlock gray, And graved upon the hemlock Down by his grave did grow, Was the name and date and the sad fate Of her foreman, young Munroe.
Now Clara did not long survive, Her heart broke with her grief, And about six weeks later Death came to her a leaf And when at last the time had come When she was called to go, Her last request was granted, To be laid by young Munroe.
The ballad of Gerry’s Rock is without doubt the most popular woods song of them all…It has been heard from New Brunswick to Michigan and beyond, and every locality claims it for its own, usually with the place-names altered to suit the claimant.
- Louise Manny, Songs of Miramichi, 1968. pp. 115 – 117.