Canadian folklorist Edith Fowke's notes:
This is quite a light-hearted treatment of a shipwreck - this time the ship was close enough to land so that no lives were lost. King's Cove and Plate Cove are on the east side of Bonavista Bay (Newfoundland); Little Denier is an island at the mouth of Newman Sound on the west side. The area is prone to wrecks: a village on the point is named Salvage.
From History Of King's Cove, Lawton and Devine (1944?) the song is attributed to the skipper Jimmy Flynn by his son, M.T. Flynn:
In 1866 the Ellen Munn, of 60 tons, belonging to John Munn & Co, of Harbour Grace, left King's Cove on Christmas Day to go to Goose Bay, Bonavista Bay, where she was to be repaired during the winter. Jimmy Flynn was skipper and had his family on board. The loss of the Ellen Munn, in the depth of winter, with the loss of all the winter supplies for two or more families, coupled with the dangers and hardships incident to the rescue, was not an episode to be treated lightly in these early days when the spectre of starvation was always dodging the pioneers' steps. "Young" Jimmy Flynn - the skipper's son - thought that the memory of the incident ought to be perpetuated. If he could string together in rhyming couples the dramatic facts of their narrow escape from a watery grave at a time when the rest of the world was giving itself up to Christmas gaiety, and improvise a suitable air for it, it would be sung at all the winter dances, and he himself may become the outstanding hero of the incident. So he set to work, and this is his account of this little episode of the past.