Lauchie Macdougall lives on in song

Sherry Ryan pens a ballard about the ‘human wind gauge’


Published on February 14, 2017
Sherry Ryan
Contributed Image

Sherry Ryan has been playing ‘Stop The Trains’ for a few months now.

An original song about Lauchie Macdougall and the Wreckhouse winds, the catchy tune has been well received by east coast audiences.

In February, the tune made its way to the west coast, specifically to the ears of Craig Macdougall, a descendant of the ‘human wind gauge.’

The story is well known by west coasters, but Ryan learned of the local legend through her father.

“It was his story that I wrote about,” Ryan told The Gulf News. “I enjoyed listening to Dad’s story because it was a very exciting story for him.”

“He was young, working with the railway, and it was a big deal when someone called ‘em up and told them to stop the trains,” Ryan recalled. “I always found it very fascinating … it was a very interesting story.”

Spinning the tale through music, Ryan has received a lot of compliments. Ryan can take pleasure in receiving another compliment this past week, when Lauchie’s grandson Craig Macdougall voiced his opinions on the track.

“It’s kind of folky, and really catchy. I enjoyed it,” Macdougall said excitedly. “There’s a nice little tune to it and a great little story. She did a really good job with it.”

[Related: For the love of Lucinda Williams]

When asked what Lauchie would think of the tune, Macdougall explained that he did not have the opportunity to meet his grandfather before his passing. Judging on what he’s heard about the man, he figures Lauchie’s humble attitude would be along the lines of, “a lot of fuss over nothing,” he laughed.

Macdougall went on to chat about why people latch on to Lauchie’s story, explaining that the hardiness of Newfoundlanders and Labradorians has always been captivating. He also noted that his grandmother was “quite the woman,” continuing to live in the Wreckhouse after Lauchie had passed.

Commenting on this experience as a whole – hearing the tune and chatting with a reporter – Macdougall said he felt a sense of family pride.

“Everyone knows the story. Everyone knows the legend,” he said. “His name went further than he ever did.”

Lauchie’s name and his legend will continue, now in song, whenever Sherry Ryan hits the stage.

“We’ll get a request for it when I’m playing a show,”

Ryan said, “Everyone joins in and it picks up the vibe in the room every time. It’s such a joy.”

 

Check out ‘Stop The Trains’ on YouTube at

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FE78w9830lA

and follow Sherry Ryan on Facebook at

https://www.facebook.com/SSSherryRyan/ for an official album release date.

 

-30-

Who was Lauchie MacDougall?

Lauchie MacDougall was a local farmer who was employed by the railway to send warnings to Port aux Basques when the winds were too fierce to risk sending the train.

He lived at Wreckhouse, and he claimed the uncanny ability to “smell” the wind.

Given a telephone and $20 a month in salary, MacDougall sent warnings of approaching southeasterly winds.

Until his death in 1965, Lauchie delayed hundreds of trains and saved as many lives.
Today, high-tech instruments have taken the place of human instinct when it comes to predicting a gale in the Wreckhouse area.

 

Source: http://encounternewfoundland.com/where-the-wind-blows-wreckhouse-and-the-human-wind-gauge/