Item 1: The Song
The song “Robert Mackenzie” is also known as “32 men down on the Robert Mackenzie”, and is often misspelled as “Robert Mackensie”. It was written and composed by Paul Gross and Jay Semko for the two part episode Mountie on the Bounty from the TV series Due South. Paul Gross also plays Benton Fraser in the aforementioned TV show.
The song concerns the sinking of the (fictional) Great Lakes coal freighter “Robert Mackenzie” on the 2nd of November 1969. The Robert Mackenzie is an important part of the episode. Information on the real ship “the Robert Mackenzie” can be found in Item 2, below the song lyrics.
The song is a mixture of country and western, a sea shanty, and a bit of rock. As it is a Canadian singing about the Great Lakes, it should really be called “lake and northern”
There used to be lyrics here. I have removed them while I seek permission from the copyright holders to use them. If I get it, I'll put them back on.
Update: 11/10/2005 - Having read about it, I can now see that the song the Robert Mackenzie is actually about the real ship and wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald, with some names and facts slightly altered. It's rumoured that the producers of the show originally wanted to use Gordon Lightfoot's song The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald in the episode, couldn't get permission to do so. It fits together.
Item 2: The Ship
As mentioned above, the Robert Mackenzie was a real ship, and she did sink. The Robert Mackenzie was built in 1860 at the W. Simons & Co. shipyard, Glasgow. She was iron hulled and measured 189'3"×32'2"×20'8". Between 1860 and 1903 she was sold eight times. Some of her many captains are listed below:
- Captain E. Moizun
- Captain J.C. Natt och Dag
- Captain Per Olsson
- Captain Otto B. Öhrström
On the 5th of August 1903 she sank at Lemvig on the west coast of Jutland while sailing from London to Hernösand. Any resemblance to the Robert Mackenzie in the song is probably coincidental.