When her love goes to sea, a lady dresses as a sailor and joins (his or another's) ship's crew. When she is discovered, (the crew/her lover) determine to drown her. The captain saves her; they marry
Based on similarity of title, some connect this song with "Canaday-I-O, Michigan-I-O, Colley's Run I-O" [Laws C17]. There is no connection in plot, however, and any common lyrics are probably the result of cross-fertilization. (Leach-Labrador has a report that "Canaday-I-O" was written in 1854 by Ephraim Braley using this song as a pattern.)
The Scottish song "Caledonia" is quite different in detail -- so much so that I'm tempted to separate it from the "Canada-I-O" texts (Roud, surprisingly, does split it; "Canaday-I-O" is his #309; "Caledonia" is #5543). But the plot is too close to allow us to distinguish.
There is a curious anachronism in most of the "Canada-I-O" texts, in that the girl concludes by saying something like "You see the honor that I have gained By the wearing of the blue." However, the British navy did not adopt a uniform for ordinary sailors until 1857 -- this being, of course, the familiar blue serge and white duck (see Arthur Herman, _To Rule the Waves_, p. 455). This being after the date of the earliest broadsides, it presumably is an intrusive element. - RBW
I don't believe anyone else has said that Creighton-SNewBrunswick fragment belongs here (it is Roud #2782). Here is all of Creighton-SNewBrunswick: "She bargained with a captain Her passage to go free, That she might be his comrade To cross the raging sea"
The usual arrangement in Canada-I-O is "She bargained with a sailor [or the sailors], All for a purse of gold." However, broadside Bodleian Firth c.12(330) has the following wording:
She was courted by a sailor
Twas true she loved him dear,
And how to get to sea with him
The way she did not know.
She bargained with a captain
All for a purse of gold
And soon they did convey the lady
Down into the hold.
The plot continues as usual, with the captain coming to her rescue. - BS