I's the B'y means I'm the Boy.

This song is from Newfoundland. Newfoundland has traditionally had a rich fishing industry.

I's the B'y - Canadian Children's Songs - Canada - Mama Lisa's World: Children's Songs and Rhymes from Around the World  - Intro Image


*"Hip yer partner" means to bump your hip into your partner's hip when dancing.
**These are all locations in Newfoundland (see map at the top of the page).
***Sod was used to cover the holes and roofs of huts that were made to smoke fish.
Rinds are bark – they were used to cover the fish on the flakes to keep the fish from getting burnt in the hot sun.
A flake is a stand made of wooden poles used for drying out fish.
****Cake here refers to a hard, dry biscuit eaten on ships.

Ford Elms wrote me a different description of the "sods": "The sods weren't used in fish smoking. I'm a Newfoundlander, which means I will grab any chance to go on and on about my culture:-), and that song has become something of a cliche, actually. And that's too bad, it's a nice song, but it's been played to death! Anyway, smoking fish was not all that common in Newfoundland. The vast majority of fish, especially if sold on the international market, we salted. As far as I'm aware, fish was only smoked for personal use, and not by very many people then. As you say, the fish was dried on flakes after it had been salted. The process took several days, and our weather is very changeable. So, in the night time or when it rained, the fish was piled up in piles called 'faggots' (or, as we'd say, 'faggotted up'), then bark laid on the top and sides, and the bark weighted down with sods so as not to blow away. Hence 'sods and rinds to cover your flake'.

I'm from the Northern Peninsula of Newfoundland, and in the days before motorized fishing boats, people rowed everywhere. In the Spring of the year, my grandfather and three others would leave Griquet, their hometown, in a four man boat called a 'bully'. Sometimes they could put a rough sail on her, but there would always be a certain amount of rowing, more often than not, it would be all rowing. They would row for seven hours (I kid you not, I can't imagine it) to Sacred Bay, not a religious thing, that was just the name of it, to cut rinds. They'd cut till they had a boat full, sleep under the upturned boat, then row back the next day. Then, they'd have to get the sods."


Come visit Mama Lisa's World Blog to see a YouTube video of I's the B'y.


Sheet Music

Sheet Music - I's the B'y

Thanks and Acknowledgements

Many thanks to Monique Palomares for the midi tune and the score.