1. Auction Days

From the recording Ours and the Shepherds


In 1917, the mining community of New Waterford, Cape Breton, offered more men to the cause of Vimy Ridge, than any other community in the British Empire. This story is disarmingly relevant today; as it arrests the truth that soldiering is often less a moral decision as it is an economic decision.

The widows of New Waterford lined the sawhorses
With pick axes and shovels and lard oil lamps.
My mom bid on a badge that read:
‘Siol na fear fearail.’
That’s when I heard my older sister say,

‘I will not marry. I will not marry.
I’ll not marry; I’ll host no auction day.
O let some good night, let some good night fall
On waving flags and on all of our auction days.’

Tottenham Trench at Vimy bore out a nation,
And Good Friday took New Waterford for its Lamb.
And in July Dominion Coal
Took 65 more guys.
So I was raised by fatherless girls who cried,


In ’40, Hitler saved us
From the coal shafts.
Yeah, but I signed up for another reason, too.
I was 28 and I knew what,
‘Siol na fear fearail’ meant.
I took Mom’s badge
to meet the father I never knew.

I got on my Balmoral cap
And I shined my newly issued boots.
And with one more request of Waterford town to make,
I went down to her mother's place
To ask, ‘Dear Clara, won’t you share my name?’
She smiled sad,
I knew what she would say.