Holly Peterson

Former Member
I am writing a historical diary about the Empress of Ireland and was wondering if you could help me with some research. I am wondering, how did Quebec City react to the sinking? Was there shock and outcry? Did people help the survivors? Were the survivors brought to hospitals? What happened to the orphans of the shipwreck?

If there's too much information to put on this thread, or if it's too broad a subject to discuss, could you post a link to a web page that has information about this?

I don't want to bother anyone because someone was annoyed at me earlier for asking too many stupid questions, but I would really like to learn this new information because isn't that what the message boards are all about, sharing information and helping educate new people?
Hi Holly, I would recommend doing a "Google" search on the Empress of Ireland and spend some time looking at a few of the sites and videos that come up for an easy start.

For more in-depth info, I would suggest going to your local library and checking out any Empress books they might have there, and if they do not have any, then inter-library loan might be a good option.

A book I personally like is: Forgotten Empress: The Empress of Ireland Story by David Zeni.
You might also want to hit the newspaper morgues to see what sort of stories were written on the sinking. Realistic or not, what you see there tends to be a reflection of contemporary popular opinion.
February 26 2011 the Norwegian newspaper Faedrelandsvennen had an article about the Empress of Ireland. According to the article, a French TV channel has nearly finished a program about the disaster. The historian, newspaper, movieman Harald Breievne was surprised when he was asked by the French company for information about the tragedy. Since summer 2010 Breievne has used all his spare time to dig up the forgotten story. "The disaster is hardly described in Norwegian litterature, which is peculiar" says historian at the University imate n Bergen, Dag Hundstad. Breievne tells that the Norwegians came home with shame, and have never claimed to be cleared for have been responsible for the disaster. The truth is, according to breievne, that Storstad put out the lifeboats,, and managed to save 350 people on Empress from death. According oo Breievne mate Tot¨ftenes on Storstad died under mysterious circumstances in New York 4 years after the disaster. His wife and their only daughter, according to New York police old papers died under peculiar circumstances about the same time. Breievne found more mysterious things. After the disaster many crew of Storstad died onboard in the period after the disaster. During the first days after the disaster it waas claimed thet Storstad had not helped in the rescue. Captain Andersen needed police ecort in the Quebeck streets. It is unclear if first mate Toftenes continued to work on Storstad after the disaster. This is the death notice in a local Mandal newspaper; "My dear son, ouur brother Dampskipforer Alfed J. Toftenes died in hospital in New York 19 April 1918, 37 years old. Toftenes 24-4.18 Marie Jensen siblings.
According to the newspaper article mentioned in the post before, mate Alfred Toftenes had many relatives in the South of Norway. Knut Lindeberg who collects material to a local history book for Halse near Mandal tells that in 1908 Alfred was married to Ingrid Olsen from Kragero, Norway. According to information from Statsarkivet, Toftenes died of a lung disease at a new York hospital 29 April 1918. Svein Toftenes. a relative has a book abt the disaaster from 1938. In the book Toftenes was critisised for not have awakenes captain Andersen. Toftenes was cleared afterwards in a Norwegian court Svein Toftenes told that it was witnessed false by officers on Empress, so the Norwegian Storstad got the blame.
April 20 2011 there was another article about the disaster in the neespaper Faedrelandsvennen. Siri Skjevesland, who had bought the house i Arendal formerly owned by captain Andersen on Storstad found a box with papers upstairs in the house marked Storstad.
There has recently been a radio documentary on the NRK, the Norwegian Broadcasting corporation. The story is available on the net. Just click the name Harald Breievne, Radiodokumentaren, and you will find it. There is a diagram of how the two boats collided, Storstad s version, and Empress of Ireland version. Also much other interesting information. Any comments from anybody if you find it on the net?