We introduced our children to Newfoundland music from the very beginning. They have grown up listening to Sunday morning Jigs & Reels regularly. One of our favourite Newfoundland singers is Ron Hynes. We even took the kids to see him perform in Perth, ON a few years ago. He is one incredible talent and we are BIG fans.
When my daughter was old enough to actually start listening to lyrics, I remember her reaction to one of my favourite Ron songs – Atlantic Blue. We were listening to music on my ipod and Atlantic Blue came on. She asked me to skip through the song – she didn’t want to listen to it because it was too “mean sounding”. She didn’t know what the song was about and she hadn’t heard about the Ocean Ranger disaster. Once this was all explained to her, I could see the aha moment click and she got it. She understood the song and a little bit about our Newfoundland history.
This morning I attended the Ocean Ranger Prayer Service that is presented by Gonzaga High School each year to remember the 84 souls who perished in the Ocean Ranger Disaster.
There is no Newfoundlander who does not remember this tragedy. It was one of those events that you recall exactly where you were when you heard the news. I know that when I heard the news I was in our family room with the black and orange patterned pleather sofa and my parents were watching the news on the television. I didn’t fully grasp the enormity of it then, but I knew from my parents’ reactions it was awful.
It’s been 32 years since the Ocean Ranger sank. Here is a description of what happened – I found it on this Heritage Newfoundland website.
On the night of the disaster, a severe storm pounded the rig with hurricane-force winds and 15-metre high waves. Seawater broke through a porthole in the ballast control room and damaged equipment. The rig tilted forward and water flooded the forward chain lockers; it capsized in the early hours of 15 February 1982.
The people of Newfoundland and Labrador are extremely loyal. Keeping people safe is taken very seriously – more so here in this province, it seems to me. Maybe because we live near the sea and understand how unforgiving it can be. Maybe it is because we are isolated. The degrees of separation are so much smaller here that it seems tragedies are felt more closely. I may be wrong, but that’s my guess.
At the ceremony today, a candle was lit for each of the 84 men while Gonzaga students read out the names. It was a lovely way to remember.
My favourite part of the ceremony was the music. I’ll leave you with a link to Ron Hynes singing Atlantic Blue, which was sung by one of the students today at the ceremony.