Blackfly Song

By Muriel Bristol | May 20, 2019

The blackflies made their annual reappearance last week. Wednesday (May 15) at my house). That fits pretty well with their traditional schedule of between Mothers’ Day and Fathers’ Day.

Last year, we provided both a general description (Black Flies Return) and a folk remedy for their itching bites (Hot Water for Itchy Bug Bites).

That having been covered already, the following Canadian folk song – Blackfly Song – as sung in 1955 by its author Wade Hemsworth, might give some sense of the joy that is blackfly season.

We are not facing them in the woods of North Ontario, thankfully, but their Milton cousins are fierce enough, thank you.

Blackfly Song

‘Twas early in the spring when I decide to go
For to work up in the woods in North Ontar-i-o;
And the unemployment office said they’d send me through
To the Little Abitibi with the survey crew
And the black flies, the little black flies,
Always the black fly no matter where you go;
I’ll die with the black fly a-pickin’ my bones,
In North Ontar-i-o-i-o, in North Ontar-i-o.

And the man Black Tobey was the captain of the crew
And he said, I’m gonna tell you boys, what we’re gonna do:
They want to build a power dam; we must find a way
For to make the Little Ab flow around the other way
With the black flies, the little black flies,
Always the black fly no matter where you go;
I’ll die with the black fly a-pickin’ my bones,
In North Ontar-i-o-i-o, in North Ontar-i-o.

So we survey to the east, survey to the west,
Couldn’t make our minds up how to do it best;
Little Ab, Little Ab, what shall I do?
I’m all but goin’ crazy with the survey crew
And the black flies, the little black flies,
Always the black fly no matter where you go;
I’ll die with the black fly a-pickin’ my bones,
In North Ontar-i-o-i-o, in North Ontar-i-o.

It was blackfly, blackfly, everywhere,
A-crawlin’ in your whiskers, crawlin’ in your hair;
Swimmin’ in the soup, swimmin’ in the tea,
And the devil take the blackfly, let me be.
Black flies, the little black flies,
Always the black fly no matter where you go;
I’ll die with the black fly a-pickin’ my bones,
In North Ontar-i-o-i-o, in North Ontar-i-o.

Black Tobey fell to swearin’; the work went slow,
The state of our morale was a-gettin’ pretty low;
The flies swarmed heavy; hard to catch your breath,
As you staggered up and down the trail a-talkin’ to yourself
With the black flies, the little black flies,
Always the black fly no matter where you go;
I’ll die with the black fly a-pickin’ my bones,
In North Ontar-i-o-i-o, in North Ontar-i-o.

Well now, the bull cook’s name was Blind River Joe,
If it hadn’t been for him we’d ‘ve never pulled through;
‘Cause he bound up our bruises and he kidded us for fun,
And he lathered us with bacon grease and balsam gum.
And the black flies, the little black flies,
Always the black fly no matter where you go;
I’ll die with the black fly a-pickin’ my bones,
In North Ontar-i-o-i-o, in North Ontar-i-o.

And at last the job was over; Black Tobey said we’re through
With the Little Abitibi and the survey crew!
‘Twas a wonderful experience and this I know:
I’ll never go again to North Ontar-i-o
With the black flies, the little black flies,
Always the black fly no matter where you go;
I’ll die with the black fly a-pickin’ my bones,
In North Ontar-i-o-i-o, in North Ontar-i-o.

And the black flies, the little black flies,
Always the black fly no matter where you go;
I’ll die with the black fly a-pickin’ my bones,
In North Ontar-i-o-i-o, in North Ontar-i-o.

References:

Wikipedia. (2018, December 14). Little Abitibi River. Retrieved from en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Little_Abitibi_River

YouTube. (2015, May 20). Blackfly Song. Retrieved from www.youtube.com/watch?v=SIzw1j4onNc

Author: Muriel Bristol

"Lady drinking tea"

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