Tag Archives: Canada

Empress Of Ireland Exhibit Opens In Halifax

 RMS Empress of Ireland 1908 Photo:Public Domain (Library and Archives Canada / PA-116389)
RMS Empress of Ireland 1908
Photo:Public Domain (Library and Archives Canada / PA-116389)

An exhibit honoring the Empress of Ireland opened this week in Halifax and will run for the year. “The exhibit includes historical documents, eyewitness accounts and 81 artifacts from the liner. One of those artifacts is a pair of pajamas worn by passenger John Langley, who survived the sinking in remarkable fashion,”reports CBC News.

Further information at Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21.

Source:Empress of Ireland ship sinking exhibit opens at Pier 21(CBC News,24 Nov 2015)

Titanic News for 5 Sep 2015

Titanic Lunch Menu 14 April 1912. Photo: AP
Titanic Lunch Menu 14 April 1912.
Photo: AP

Online auctioneer To Auction Off Titanic Lunch Menu
Lion Heart Autographs of New York is auctioning off a rare Titanic lunch menu and other artifacts on 30 Sep 2015. The menu is signed in pencil by first class passenger Isaac Gerald Frauenthal. A ticket from the weighing chair in the Turkish baths and a letter written by survivor Mabel Francatelli to Abraham Lincoln Salomon are also being auctioned at the same time. The menu is expected to fetch between $50,000-$70,000, the ticket $7500-$10,000, and the letter $4,000-$6,000.
Source: Last Lunch Menu And Artefacts From Titanic’s Number One Lifeboat Auctioned(31 Aug 2015,The Guardian)

Titanic II or Titanic III?
Maritime Executive reports on the new time frame for Titanic II but looks at the Chinese replica being built in China as another possibility for Titanic enthusiasts. The article does not add anything new about Titanic II or the Chinese replica but sort of raises the question as to which one would you rather experience. Assuming of course if Palmer’s Titanic II ever gets built.
Source:Titanic II or Titanic III(30 Aug 2015,Maritime Executive)

Michel Navaratil Remembered At  Bratislava Titanic Exhibition
Michel Navaratil, who perished when Titanic sank but got his two sons into lifeboats,is being remembered as part of a Titanic exhibition in Bratislava, Slovakia. Navratil was born in Sered’ in 1880 and left for France at age 20. There he met Marcella Caretto with whom he had two sons: Michel and Edmond. After learning his wife had cheated on him, he decided to take his sons to the United States. Sadly he never made it but his kids survived causing a worldwide search for his relatives. Ultimately their mother found about them and they returned to France. The exhibition runs until 6 Dec 2015.

Titanic Wreck Bow Image: Public Domain (NOAA-http://www.gc.noaa.gov/images/gcil/ATT00561.jpg)
Titanic Wreck Bow
Image: Public Domain (NOAA-http://www.gc.noaa.gov/images/gcil/ATT00561.jpg)

Protecting Titanic: A Bit Too Late To Make A Difference
One of the raging controversies that divides (and still divides)the Titanic community was salvage. When Titanic was found in 1985, two miles down and in international waters, it meant no country could claim it within their borders. A company called RMS Titanic Inc (now part of Premier Exhibitions)went out and brought up some artifacts. It then went to federal court in the United States (in the United States the federal courts have original jurisdiction on maritime claims)and made a salvage claim. Since they had actual artifacts and the company that once owned the ship is gone (technically it became part of Cunard but it made no attempt to exert any legal claim on the wreck), they were awarded salvor-in-possession. One insurance company (which paid money out on a claim when Titanic sank)reached a settlement with RMS Titanic, Inc. The rest, as it is said, is history and the artifacts brought up now comprise Titanic:The Artifact Exhibition.

There was a brief tourist business in having people dive to the wreck. It was hideously expensive and there was some minor legal kerfuffle by RMS Titanic Inc to stop it (they lost). But that has pretty much died away. The wreck itself, like all wrecks, is being slowly eaten up by the sea (microbes and other organisms)and will be nothing more in a decade or more. Hardly anyone dives to it anymore. RMS Titanic Inc gave up its salvage claim and has been trying–unsuccessfully so far–in selling the Titanic collection. Now word comes Canada wants an exception to its claim of territory so it can claim the wreck as being in its waters. Huh? This makes no sense at all except as a publicity stunt. The wreck is disintegrating, some say accelerated by the diving down to it by salvagers and tourists. It might have made sense way long ago but it is far too late to make any difference now. It sounds nice though, from the government point-of-view, that we are taking steps to preserve the final moments of this disintegrating wreck. Too bad no one asks the obvious question why they waited till 2015 when they could have tried it back in 1985.
Source:The Way the Titanic Is Treated May Be About to Change(2 Sep 2015,Newser)


Remembering the Empress of Ireland

 RMS Empress of Ireland 1908 Photo:Public Domain (Library and Archives Canada / PA-116389)
RMS Empress of Ireland 1908
Photo:Public Domain (Library and Archives Canada / PA-116389)

The Titanic disaster of 1912 was still making waves when on 29 May 1914, the RMS Empress of Ireland collided with the Norwegian coal freighter Storstad in the Saint Louis River at  Pointe-au-Père, Quebec. It occurred around 0200 in the morning. Storstad hit the starboard side, causing severe damage. Empress began to list and quickly fill with water. Portholes had not been secured before leaving port so many were open (many passengers complained of poor ventilation) so that allowed a lot of water to enter. Many in the lower decks drowned from water coming in from the open portholes.

Also failure to close the watertight doors led to the quick sinking. Three lifeboats were launched quickly with passengers and crew that were in the upper deck cabins able to get away but as the ship listed further starboard, the other lifeboats could not be used. Ten minutes after the collision, Empress lurched violently on the starboard side allowing 700 passengers and crew to crawl out of portholes and decks on her side. Then 15 minutes later, after it briefly looked like she might have run aground, the hull sank dumping all the people left on her into the icy water. When the final tally was done, 1,012 people lost there lives. 465 survived. Many on the starboard side where asleep and likely drowned in their cabins.

The official enquiry, which began on 16 June 1914, was headed by Lord Mersey who had previously headed the British Titanic enquiry (he would also lead up the enquiry into Lusitania later). Two very different accounts emerged of the collision from the Storstad and Empress. At the end of the day, the commission determined that when Storstad changed course, it caused the collision. The Norwegians did not accept the verdict and held their own enquiry which exonerated the captain and crew of the Storstad. Canadian Pacific, which owned the now sunk Empress of Ireland, pursued a legal claim and won. The Norwegian owners countersued but in the end the liabilities forced them to sell Storstad to put money in the trust funds.

What happened to Empress, though not receiving the same attention as Titanic, was to change ship design. The reverse slanting bow was dangerous in ship-to-ship collisions resulting in below the waterline damage. Bows were redesigned so the energy of the collision would be minimized below the surface. Longitudinal bulkheads were discontinued as they trapped water beneath them causing the ship to list and capsizing. Needless to say portholes were to be secured from that point on (in fact nearly all cruise ships use decoratives that can never be opened). The wreck today has been salvaged many times and is now the only underwater historic site in Canada. The wreck is in shallow water (130 feet) but is notably dangerous dive due to the cold waters, currents, and often impaired visibility.

Sources:
1. The Empress Of Ireland Was Canada’s Titanic(2 Jul 2013, Niagarathisweek.com)

2. RMS Empress of Ireland(Wikipedia)

3. Royal Alberta Museum Online: The Empress of Ireland

Amazon books: Empress of Ireland

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Memorial Weekend Musings

 RMS Empress of Ireland 1908 Photo:Public Domain (Library and Archives Canada / PA-116389)
RMS Empress of Ireland 1908
Photo:Public Domain (Library and Archives Canada / PA-116389)

*The Empress of Ireland sank in the St. Lawrence River in 1914 after colliding with a freighter on 29 May 1914. It sank in just 14 minutes with a death toll of 1,012. It is one of the worst maritime disasters in Canada’s history but for a long time only lightly remembered. “Canada’s Titanic” as it is called was not well known outside of Canada, overshadowed by another ship’s tragedy–RMS Titanic. Today though people are starting to recall this terrible event and the lives lost according to news reports now that its centenary is approaching. Stories of the saved are being recalled and the dead remembered. According to The Province:

To mark the anniversary, the Maritime Museum of BC in Victoria has an exhibit of Klausen’s items. It is just one of the several Empress-related events across Canada. In Rimouski, the Pointe-au-Pere maritime museum, which has a pavilion dedicated to the Empress, will host a banquet and unveil a monument. Churches in Rimouski and nearby Ste-Luce plan to pay homage by ringing their bells in unison at 1:55 a.m., the time of the disaster.The Salvation Army, which dispatched 170 of its members on the ship to a rally in England, will hold its annual Empress ceremony Sunday at Toronto’s Mount Pleasant Cemetery as well as a reception May 31 in Rimouski. The organization lost 141 people, including Delamont, the Clarks and many of its Canadian leaders.

Sometimes it is easy to forget that Titanic, while a terrible tragedy, is not alone. There are other maritime tragedies out there that were just as impacting on families and organizations.
Sources
1. Empress Of Ireland, ‘Canada’s Titanic,’ Finally Getting Its Due After 100 Years (23 May 2014,The Province)
2.RMS Empress of Ireland (Wikipedia)
3. Empress of Ireland
4. Pointe-au-Père Historical Site

*Harland & Wolff is no longer constructing ships and works now with offshore structures that require heavy duty construction. Just recently though it set a world record by performing the world’s heaviest single point water load test. According to the Belfast Telegraph:

“The massive Samson gantry crane lifted an incredible 774 tonne load to certify Harland and Wolff’s latest spreader beam arrangement. Te actual test was over in a matter of minutes, however each water bag took 20 minutes to fill. The test was witnessed and certified by the Lloyds Ireland Surveyor Graham Knowles who was satisfied with the operation and pleased to participate in this unique world record.”

To say that is a lot of water is an understatement. Good to see old Harland & Wolff staying relevant in today’s changed maritime environment.
Source:Harland And Wolff Break World Record At Belfast Shipyard(23 May 2014,Belfast Telegraph)

*MasterChef is returning on Memorial Day this year. So we once again will go through the agony and triumph of watching the ‘cheftestants’ compete for the big monetary prize, cookbook, and glory. Over at Hell’s Kitchen, it is winding down but not fast enough. They ought to knock two out a week rather than stretch it out. We already know that there are fakers planted in the groups just to cause problems. Truthfully hard to see anyone worthy this season. More interesting is that except for one winner, no one ever gets the promised prize (there are various reasons for this) of becoming an executive chef for one of Gordon Ramsay’s restaurants. Kitchen Nightmares is already over and this season was short but intense. Gordon seems to have powered down the turmoil and focusing on getting them attentive to making fresh food. And being sanitary in doing so as well!

*Memorial Day is here so take a moment or more to remember in your thoughts all the brave men and women who gave their lives for this country. Their bravery and sacrifice must never be forgotten. Happy Memorial Day everyone.