Listen to Volume 1

On Cape Breton Island, where coal mining and steel making were once an essential part of the region’s culture and economy, protest song and verse are found in abundance. The Protest Song Project is an initiative of The Centre for Cape Breton Studies at Cape Breton University. The program’s goal is to preserve and promote the protest songs and verse that represent the region’s rich industrial heritage. The Centre has been collaborating with local musicians to record many of the songs that were published in the Maritime Labour Herald, a newspaper of the 1920s, that includes both local and international compositions. These songs played an important role in the labour struggles of the 1920s and are an unexplored aspect of Cape Breton’s labour heritage. This is a truly interactive, collaborative and community-minded project. This website is supported by audio tracks that can be purchased by clicking the “Buy” link above.

Listen to Volume 2

Cape Breton Island Songs of Steel, Coal and Protest

This is part two of a program to preserve, promote and make available the steel, mining and protest songs of the region. It tells stories about the struggles to survive strikes and hard times, the courage of workers wives, the fight by trade unionists and the oppression of international company owners.

In 2012, the Centre released the CD “Cape Breton Island Protest Songs, Volume 1” along with an accompanying web site (www.protestsongs.ca).
It was also a collaboration between MacKinnon and Cape Breton musicians to record songs that were originally published in Cape Breton newspapers such as the Maritime Labour Herald, The Steelworker and the Steelworker and Miner from the 1920s through to the 1950s. MacKinnon found the words and the musicians created the arrangements and music.

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The Ballad of Slim McInnis // The Ballad of Slim McInnis - Songs of Steel, Coal and Protest
  1. The Ballad of Slim McInnis // The Ballad of Slim McInnis - Songs of Steel, Coal and Protest
  2. Doscomocracy // Doscomocracy - Songs of Steel, Coal and Protest
  3. Trampin’ Down the Highway // Trampin’ Down the Highway - Songs of Steel, Coal and Protest
  4. Quaint Harbour // Quaint Harbour - Songs of Steel, Coal and Protest
  5. Blackheart’s of the Company // Blackheart’s of the Company - Songs of Steel, Coal and Protest
  6. Stand the Gaff // Stand the Gaff - Songs of Steel, Coal and Protest
  7. Michael’s Tune // Michael’s Tune - Songs of Steel, Coal and Protest
  8. Arise Ye Nova Scotia Slaves // Arise Ye Nova Scotia Slaves - Songs of Steel, Coal and Protest
  9. Whatever It Takes // Whatever It Takes - Songs of Steel, Coal and Protest
  10. The Wearing of the Red // The Wearing of the Red - Songs of Steel, Coal and Protest
  11. Down at Sydney Steel // Sydney Steel - Songs of Steel, Coal and Protest
  12. Stronger then Steel // Stronger then Steel - Songs of Steel, Coal and Protest
  13. Steel Winds // Steel Winds - Songs of Steel, Coal and Protest
  14. A Cape Breton Lament // A Cape Breton Lament - Songs of Steel, Coal and Protest
  15. An Seann Tigh Sgoil // An Seann Tigh Sgoil - Songs of Steel, Coal and Protest
  16. Friday Evening // Ian MacDougall - Songs of Steel, Coal and Protest
  17. The Voice of the Worker // The Voice of the Worker - Songs of Steel, Coal and Protest
  18. Daughters Awake // Daughters Awake - Songs of Steel, Coal and Protest
  19. Cape Breton Miner and Besco // Cape Breton Miner and Besco - Songs of Steel, Coal and Protest
  20. Miner’s Wife // Songs of Steel, Coal and Protest
  21. Steel Workers Lament // Songs of Steel, Coal and Protest