THE LOGGERS' STRIKE
- Dave Penny
About Dave's composition:
The Loggers' Strike of 1959 was one of the most divisive labour disputes in the history of Newfoundland and Labrador. Dave Penny wrote this song in 2009. It appears on two of his albums: Stories & Strangers, and All Turned Around.
“I read about the Loggers’ Strike in 2008 and was surprised that I hadn't heard about it before, and I couldn't think of any songs about the I.W.A. in Newfoundland. I did find one song called The Logger’s Plight in the Kenneth Peacock Collection, but figured it wouldn't hurt to have another one [song]. I tried to be as neutral as I could for this very complex story.”
THE LOGGERS' STRIKE – By Dave Penny
Come all ye and listen to the Loggers' Strike,
Events that had led up to one tragic night;
The loggers all banded together and stood
‘Til the company gave in, they’d cut no more wood
In the strike of 1959.
When Harvey Landon Ladd came down this way,
Recruiting men for the I.W.A.
To spread information around Newfoundland,
He set up committees, three women, two men
In each logging community.
The unions could not use the company roads,
So they walked twenty miles in the camps in the snow;
Or sometimes with small planes they flew overhead,
And showered the loggers with leaflets that read
What the I.W.A. was about.
Those tar paper shacks were no kind of a camp,
An oil drum for a stove and one dim oil lamp;
The water they washed in was not very nice,
With a barrel outside filled with water and ice,
And they slept on rough blankets and boughs.
The unions asked for a twenty-five cent raise,
A bit of hot water to wash and to shave;
Plain old bed sheets and a half decent meal,
Ross Moore of the A.N.D. dug in his heels,
So the strike began New Year’s day.
Company roads and then public highways
Were lined off with members of I.W.A.;
Longshoremen with pulp and newsprint were refused,
The roads were barred off and some drivers abused
By the picketing women and men.
February the 7th, two-thirty at night,
They went to two tents and smashed what was in sight;
Scab workers were tossed out in sub-zero cold,
Without a chance to put on boots and warm clothes,
One hundred and four were arrested.
February the 12th Joey took to the air,
Said the I.W.A. it was not welcome here;
“You’re not welcome here,” and he made it so plain,
That he’d form a new brotherhood led by Max Lane,
They’d have a contract in two weeks.
The Newfoundland Brotherhood it failed at first,
But then at the strike it went from bad to worse;
Ladd said that he’d bring the government down,
And arranged a large rally in Joey’s hometown
In an S.U.F. Hall in Gambo.
March the 9th, over two hundred loggers they showed up
And with their wives they blocked off Badger’s main road.
A force of policemen, more than seventeen
Of RCMP and Constabulary
Were in from St. John’s and Grand Falls.
Policemen and loggers were now face-to-face,
Confusion and chaos all over the place;
And then within minutes a loud crack was heard,
And a policeman got struck with a big piece of birch
And he stumbled and fell to the ground.
The young man was brought into Grand Falls that day,
And the morning of March the 12th, he passed away;
William Moss, a twenty-four-year old man,
A brave RNC officer from Port Blandford
Was carried to St. John’s by train.
The news quickly spread of the dreadful affray,
And called to get rid of the I.W.A.;
The union’s headquarters moved to Bishop’s Falls,
But was beat down to shambles by a big angry mob,
So they picked up their things and went on.
The A.N.D. Company was on the hook then,
For the pitiful way that they treated those men;
To the carpenters and joiners the loggers moved,
And the camps and their wages they slowly improved.
In two weeks the loggers were back on the Drive
With their pike poles and peavies and bateaus and all