Lyrics Composed by steelworker John Slim McInnis 1940, and Kev Corbett, 2015
About Kev Corbett
Kev Corbett is a Halifax-based musician and songwriter whose paternal granddads were Cape Breton steelworkers and coal miners. His granddad ‘Ed’ Corbett (1908-1966) was a President of Steelworkers’ Local 1064 during the 40s and 50s, and also brought Labour support to the eventual building of the Canso Causeway. He was a union brother to Slim McInnis, who wrote the poem that became the verses to this song.
Information about composer John Slim McInnis:
In the early years of the unionization of the Steel plant there were songs, many of which are now forgotten, that also played a significant role in the steelworking community of Cape Breton Island. Like the protest songs from the 1920s, some of these were published in pro-labour newspapers of the time. Many were passed along as broadsides to fellow workers inside and outside the gates of the plant. As with the protest songs from the 1920s, many were published under pseudonyms; however most steelworkers and their families, without a doubt, knew who the composers were. One songmaker who wrote under a number of pseudonyms including “”Beachcomber” and “Anonymous”s wrote a series of songs from the 1930s until the 1970s. His name was John J. “Slim” MacInnis. His most popular song among steelworkers, “Dosco’s Inferno,” provides a bleak account of working in the blast furnace. He used the pseudonym “Little Twisted” when this verse was first published. Clearly the songmaker is familiar with the kinds of work at the plant. The song refers to many kinds of work at the plant including shoevelling ore, smelling chemical odors, and the material culture of a plant: furnaces, ladles, pans, tongs, pails, and boiling steel.