“The Shanty Boy on the Big Eau Claire”


A girl loves a shanty boy. Her (father/mother) sends her away to keep them apart. She dies of disease and grief; her lover kills himself. They haunt her (father), whose business goes bankrupt. The moral: Don't fall in love with a shanty boy (?!)


Like many of Allen's songs, this has a "serious" plot but is couched in humorous language, with lines such as:

Every girl has her troubles; each man likewise has his.

But few can match the agony of the following story, viz.

It relates about the affection of a damsel young and fair

Who dearly loved a shanty boy on the Big Eau Claire.

Allen reported writing this around 1875, but by the time Rickaby met him some forty years later, he had forgotten the tune he used. - RBW


  • Art Thieme, "The Shanty Boy on the Big Eau Claire" (on Thieme02) (on Thieme05)


  1. Laws C11, "The Shanty Boy on the Big Eau Claire"
  2. Rickaby 11, "The Shanty-boy on the Big Eau Claire" (2 texts plus a fragment, 2 tunes)
  3. DT 819, EAUCLAIR
  4. Roud #2219
  5. BI, LC11


Author: William T. Allen (Shan T. Boy)
Earliest date: 1926 (Rickaby)
Found in: US(MW)