The North Shore Cannon Ball

Gather round boys and I'll tell you a story
Or what happened in the C.N.R.
When the N.S.R. boys were returning off furlough
Of how they cleaned out every car.

It was on the seventeenth of January,
Nineteen hundred and forty-one.
The boys were all feeling happy.
We had lots of fun.

A crowd was at the station
To wave us Bon Farewell.
Believe me we had no intention
Of tearing that troop train to hell.

The old cannon ball rolled into the station
Two hours behind her time.
We waved farewell to our sweethearts
As the train rolled down the line.

We were rolling along about five minutes,
We were feeling pretty blue
On parting from our sweethearts
And all our friends so true.

I pulled out a quart of whiskey
And handed it to my pal.
I thought if he had a few good drinks
He would sort of forget that gal.

Just then an officer entered
And grabbed our bottle of rye.
He threw it out the window.
That damned near made me cry.

I watched him as he proceeded
To go from seat to seat,
To take each ladies bottle
And smash it at his feet.

This was a rotten dirty trick
You must admit it's true.
But we took it with a smile
What else was there to do!

All was quiet till we reached Newcastle
It was there the fun began!
When the reckless Mirimichi boys
Boarded the old tin can.

Due to carelessness in Campbellton
There was no lights on the train
This made the boys resentful
And they cried for lights in vain.

Finally a conductor entered,
A rather sassy cuss.
He said that even an unlit train
Was good enough for us.

Now they had taken all our liquors
Our Whiskey, Rum and Rye,
The water coolers were empty
And the boys were cracking dry.

This made the boys grow restless
No water or no light!
They then began an argument
Which ended in a fight.

The fight became a scrap
But this was only the start,
It soon became a rough and tumble
In which we all took part.

The first crash cam without warning
We all knew a window was gone.
And as all was in the darkness
The others didn't remain long.

Crash after crash broke the stillness
With a tinkling glassy sound,
As the windows left their casing
And tumbled to the ground.

As the mile began to unravel
The turmoil began to cease.
And when at last we reached Rogersville Station
There wasn't a window left in place.

A crowd was there at the station
The Cannon Ball to meet.
When the girls asked us for souvenirs
We gave them each a seat.

We pulled out from Rogersville Station,
We waved the crowd goodbye,
But as soon as we were out of sight
The mirrors began to fly.

As the train rolled through the darkness
The fighting began anew.
And when finally we reached Moncton
The seats were mighty few.

Now what else could the Railroad expect,
After all we had paid our fare.
All we wanted was lights and water.
For the service we didn't care.

At last we reached the wonderful city
Noted for its Magnetic Hill.
But when we reached the station,
Our hearts just stood stock still.

Now word had gone ahead to Moncton
That the North Shore was on the prod,
And so they had prepared for us
They turned out the riot squad.

They had called out every soldier,
The town cops and Mounties too!
They even turned out the Air force
To silent the North Shore crew.

Now we had done nothing to cause such alarm
And you know I could not till a like,
After all there was nothing the matter.
The boys were merely dry.

Well finally they brought us water
To quench our dying thirst.
The water carriers kept watching us
To see if we would burst.

Now that we had got some water
And all had drank our fill.
We settled down to quietness
And everybody was still.

And so the train rolled out of Moncton,
Her throttle opened wide
While all inside were quiet
As if everybody had died.

So we slept till we reached Camp Sussex,
Where we woke with heads like lead.
They marched us to the barracks
Where we headed straight for bed.

And now that we are back in camp
We are happy one and all
But we still carry with us the memory
Of the North Shore Cannon Ball.

The End

By Arthur Shannon - Jacquet River, New Brunswick

Recorded by Anne (MacKay) Dickie

My father, Lloyd Dickie spoke of this incident! The officers had stated that the washrooms on the train were only for the officers. These were proud and capable men who would not be put down by anyone. Needless to say the heads were thrown off the train as well! Their spirit and determination continued throughout WW II.

Karen (Dickie) Holtze