Page 41 - A Milling Frolic on the North Shore
ISSUE : Issue 21
Published by Ronald Caplan on 1978/12/1
I don't think they'd be singing anywhere else, only in the house. But I heard Mal? colm talking about it up in Ontario. His father was a beautiful singer and his mother was still better. And they both had songs to no end. And he said there used to be this composer • this Norman MacDonald, he used to go to visit there • come in and have a smoke and then start singing songs. And it was quite common, he said, to sing for two hours, one after the other, one after the other. His mother would sing a song and his father would sing a song and this MacDonald fellow would sing. Most of the good singers learned the songs from end to end at home, from their parents. And that Norman MacDonald was pretty sharp you know. If anything would happen, you know, he'd make a song. He made a song once about a milling frolic that was up the road somewhere, one fellow wanted to have a girl friend. Anyhow, I think what happened they all piled on the sleigh and when they were going down the road the sleigh broke and the horse ran away • and that was enough to start a song, you know. And he made another song, I don't know it, but I heard it sung, of fellows that used to trap out in the woods and they went out • R. J.'s father and another Urquhart, he was my uncle • and they were supposed to have got lost out in the fog and snowing and what-not • and pretty hard up before they got back. They had some dogfish out there for bait. Dogfish, you know, it's not edible as far as we're concerned. But they used to take it ashore and split it up and dry it and take it out to the woods • use it for bait for lynx traps and the like of that. So the grub ran out on them and as a last resort they had to start eating the dogfish. And it was put together good. I know only 3 or 4 verses of it. How the events happened, how they got lost and all. The future, as far as I can see, is very near the end. Murdoch MacAskill and Alex Kerr are the youngest singers in the bunch (the North Shore Gaelic Singers) • the rest an old age pensioner, everyone of them. And you can figure out for yourself how far that can be away. And there's nobody coming after that I know of. Not one. Gwennie Pottie wrings out her wool blanket, ready to mill; Murdoch MacAskill sings; Jessie Mary MacLeod with traditional oatcake; and below, the early portion of the milling, singing, gently passing, brushing blanket along the grooves in the harrow.
Cape Breton's Magazine