“…rockin’ on the water,/Making things a little hotter back in Newfoundland”

Angus Stewart


That’s what people in Norris Point are doing this summer at the Cat Stop Pub & Grub.

If they’re lucky, they’ll see Angus Stewart singing “Rockin’ on the Water,” a song he wrote that was recorded by Newfoundland’s Shanneyganock, (they played on Broadway at the opening-night party for Come from Away) and debuted #1 on the world chart on Canadian iTunes.

Although fewer than 700 permanent residents call Norris Point home, the town hosts Trails Tales Tunes, a ten-day festival in May that’s been running since 2006.

“Angus is really good. Traditional Newfoundland music he sings. You should come hear him tanight my darlin’,” a waitress at the Cat told us. “Come ‘round 6:30. The place could fill up, even this early in the season, he’s that good.”

The Cat’s patio was warm and there was talk of Angus setting up outside. (Newfoundland weather pleasantly surprised us.) Didn’t happen and the stage-side seats got taken, so we had “A time” listening to Angus from upstairs in the loft.

The next afternoon we returned to hear the French Shore Fiddlers, a high-school band led by a teacher the young musicians clearly adored. We went back night for the Craig Young Trio and while we standing in a crowd of people, a woman next to us struck up a conversation.

She picked us for tourists and asked about our time in the area. We soon learned that she works at Neddies Harbour Inn where we had eaten dinner the previous night.

“I saw a piece of art at its entrance that I liked, a painting/sculpture collage by Maxine Stewart,” I told her.

 “That’s me!” she said.

 And you can guess (of course I asked), who she’s married to.

Home for Angus and Maxine is Ramea, AON 2J0, on one of a clutch of islands off Newfoundland’s south coast where 450 folks get their mail. “Not far from Port aux Basques where you came in on the ferry,” Maxine explained.

The island is served by a ferry that Angus does relief work on during the winter while Maxine volunteers, works on her art and hikes a seven-kilometre trail—twice, daily. “We’ve been there fifty years, waterfront property, we’d never leave.”

Maxine and Angus move to Norris Point for ‘the season,’ May to October. “Angus plays all over,” Maxine says, speaking quickly, as many Newfoundland women do. At the Cat every Friday, on M. V. Emm-Cat boat tours and other places—a retirement home earlier that day. “An elderly woman whose mother was a famous singer from Newfoundland, she knew her music, made a pass at Angus this afternoon. Angus is so shy. He told her maybe next time he’d bring his wife to accompany him on the accordion. ‘No, no, don’t bring her,’ she kept sayin.”

Maxine introduced us to Reg Williams, owner of the Cat and the Emm-Cat—our captain of our boat trip the next day to Western Brook Pond!

Reg also runs Anchors Aweigh, described as the finest musical experience in Gros Morne. “Every Monday, Wednesday and Friday in Rocky Harbour,” said Maxine, telling us how good it was, and that Angus has also written songs for the Anchors Aweigh Band.

All this time Angus was nearby, in demand, quietly in conversation with local friends. He’s a humble man so reading the story of how he submitted his song “Rockin’ on the Water” to Chris Andrews of Shanneyganock didn’t surprise us.

We were out in Norris Point one time and he said, ‘Here, I wrote you a hit,’ and shoved this song in my pocket.

I’ve been away, I gotta say,
It isn’t really working for me;
I’ve been all around about,
I finally figured out,
Nothing in life ever comes free.
So I paid my dues, and I sang the blues,
But it’s not how it’s gotta be;
I’m headin’ back to the island,
Smell the salt air,
And rekindle some old mysteries.

Like when we were rockin’ on water,
We were breathing fresh air;
In her daddy’s leaky dory,
And I’m sticking to my story, sir,
That’s why we were late.
And I swear, out there on the ocean,
We didn’t wanna be found;
We were rockin’ on the water,
Making things a little hotter back in Newfoundland.

Every day it’s all work and no play,
Just gotta get my piece of the pie;
Now that I realize it’s just a big disguise,
It’s all just pie in the sky.
I know what it means, I’m gonna follow my dreams,
Gonna pack my bags and then:
Head on back to the island,
On the ocean, back to those memories again.

Like when we were rockin’ on water,
We were breathing fresh air;
In her daddy’s leaky dory,
And I’m sticking to my story, sir,
That’s why we were late.
And I swear, out there on the ocean,
We didn’t wanna be found;
When we were rockin’ on the water,
Making things a little hotter back in Newfoundland.

How we wish we had recorded Angus singing it… Next time?



Cat Stop Pub & Grub

“Shanneycock goes a little bit country”

Shanneyganock performs Rocking on the water with the Newfoundland Symphony Orchestra

8 Responses

  1. I think your dream of living in NFLD is fueled by a realization that develops in us as time passes.

    That is; that life is really only ‘moments’ and ‘relationships’; and the people of “the rock”; seem to get that…

  2. Some years ago we visited Jill’s friend Kim living in Merritt at the time.

    Her younger brother was living in her garage and was, at the time, running an ad in the local paper;

    “Wanted, good woman with boat; please send photo of boat”…

  3. You’ve given me a new quest… gotta find me a girl whose dad has an Oceanside property AND a leaky boat!

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