IS THE EMPRESS REMEMBERED IN CANADA


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Michael Bezek

Guest
First of all, condolences to our Canadian readers on the 90th anniversary of a great tragedy in Canadian waters.
My question:She's called the "forgotten Empress", but is she at least remembered in Canada? Here in the U.S. everyone knows the Titanic story (or, I'm sorry to say, at least the movie version.) The Lusitania hasn't acheived cult status, but still generates a tremendous amount of interest, but you'd probably just get a blank look from the average person here if you mentioned the Empress of Ireland. Is it the same in Canada? I'd also be interested to hear from some of our British readers-is the Empress pretty much as forgotten in the U.K. as she is in the U.S.?
 
Aug 4, 2001
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90 years ago today the Empress sank off Pointe au père near Rimouski, may God bless all those soles. To answer your question Michael I would have to say no she is not totally forgotten in Canada particularly here in Quebec and especially for the inhabitants of the Bas Saint-Laurent where the tragedy happened. It is pretty much part of their history and culture now. Everybody up there knows the story.

I am sure that the same goes for our friends at the salvation army in Toronto. I know they have a commemorative celebration every year to remember those many who lost their lives.

Far from being as well known and popular as the story of the Titanic, the Empress of ireland tragedy is still vivid in some memories and generates a fair amount of interest especially among the people living on the shore of the st-lawrence river.

Regards
Dom
 

John Clifford

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Mar 30, 1997
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I am sure that the same goes for our friends at the salvation army in Toronto. I know they have a commemorative celebration every year to remember those many who lost their lives.

Last year I was in Toronto, and Jason Tiller and I visited the Salvation Army Headquarters. There we saw a "memorial display" (my term), which included a painting of the Empress, and a copy of one article about the Memorial Service, which is held at Fairview Cemetery. Many of the victims are buried there.
One of the last survivors used to attend that service, until her death in the 1990s.

We also met one gentleman, whose grandparents died in the sinking, and whose brother I also met on the 1999 THS Heritage Tour VI.

Toronto lost 121 residents in the sinking. I don't have the figures for Toronto Officials of the Salvation Army.

There is also an Empress of Ireland Exhibit at the Musee de la Mer, outside Rimouski, the closest city to the sinking.

There is one mass burial site near Rimouski, but I do not know how many victims were buried at any of the local churches, especially Saint Luce, from where you can look out towards the Empress site.
 

Jason D. Tiller

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Hi Dom,

"I am sure that the same goes for our friends at the salvation army in Toronto. I know they have a commemorative celebration every year to remember those many who lost their lives."

You're right. A memorial service will be held tomorrow afternoon, which I will be attending.

Hi John,

"There we saw a "memorial display" (my term), which included a painting of the Empress, and a copy of one article about the Memorial Service,"

Don't forget about the half dozen artifacts.
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"which is held at Fairview Cemetery."

Actually, it's Mount Pleasant Cemetery. The last survivor was Grace Hanagan Martyn who was 7 years old at the time of the disaster. She passed away in 1995. 121 passengers from Toronto were on board, but only six survived.

170 Salvation Army Officers were also on board and only ten survived.

Best regards,

Jason
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Alex McLean

Guest
It is amazing the statistics of the disaster, isn't it? Even more amazing that such a story has been forgotten over time.
Jason, I'd love to see these artifacts. You'll have to take me to see them when I'm up your way sometime in the next few years.
Look forward to seeing you then, mate.
My best,
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Alex
 

Wesley Burton

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Apr 22, 2004
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It shall be remembered. I am writing an article for the school newspaper next month for "This month in History".
 

Wesley Burton

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I just completed a rough draft. It is relatively dry. I would like to include some first hand accounts into the article to get the reader more emotionally involved. Right now its mostly names dates statistics and time. Luckily I have close to a month to improve on it. I will post the final article though. Hopefully it meets your expectations. If not, I shall improve for next time.
 

Kyrila Scully

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Apr 15, 2001
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The new book I'm writing features the Empress of Ireland. It's a children's book, so I hope it will inspire a new generation of interest in history, science and the beautiful ships lost at sea, as well as the precious people aboard them.

Kyrila
 

Jason D. Tiller

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"Hopefully it meets your expectations. If not, I shall improve for next time."

Wesley, just try your best, that's all anyone can ever ask for. I'm sure if you put enough effort into it, it will turn out great!
 

Jason D. Tiller

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Hi Wesley,

That's very well done and your writing flows along perfectly. You've provided a lot of detail and you have done your research, I'm very impressed.

You might want to add that out of 170 Salvation Army Officers, only 10 survived. 121 passengers from Toronto were on board, but only six survived and there are memorials at Father Point and in Toronto. Plus, there are several graves on each side of the memorial here in Toronto. A memorial service is held every year, close to the anniversary date.

I have some photos of the memorial and the graves, so if you'd like any pictures for your article, let me know.
 

Wesley Burton

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Apr 22, 2004
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Thank you. Yes I would like a few pictures if you dont mind. I was hoping to be able to put one in but with all the copyrights I thought I might have to do without.
 

Mike Poirier

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Dec 31, 2004
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Hi Wesley
That's a great overview which I can't wait to see turned into an ET article, but may I make a suggestion? Since Dave Zeni's book on the Empress of Ireland is called 'Forgotten Empress', you may want to change the title.
Mike
 

Wesley Burton

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Apr 22, 2004
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Oh, I thought it was an original title. Im guess in retrospect it isnt surprising that its been used before. Thanks for telling me i'll change it.
 

Jason D. Tiller

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You're welcome, Wesley. I'll send you a few photos soon.

Mike makes a good point, which I totally forgot to include in my previous post. May I suggest the title be Empress of Ireland Remembered?

Minor correction on my previous post. A memorial service is held on or close to the anniversary date. I'm sure that this year's will be held on the date of the anniversary, but I haven't got confirmation of that yet.
 

Jason D. Tiller

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Today marks the 91st anniversary of the sinking of the Empress of Ireland off Father Point in Rimouski, Quebec, in the early morning hours of May 29, 1914. Out of the 1,477 passengers that were on board, 1,012 were lost and only 465 were saved.

I just returned from the annual memorial service put on by the Salvation Army, which was beautiful.

Meanwhile, here's the "Empress" in better times:

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Paul Rogers

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Nov 30, 2000
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Jason (and others),

This site may be of interest to you, if you've not already come across it: http://www.sea-viewdiving.com/books_videos/empress_library/empressdetail.htm

The site has computer animations of the bow and stern of the Empress and the collision with the Storstad as it is imagined. (Each file is circa 1.5Mb - 3Mb in size.) There's some other non-computerised MPEGs available of the wreck as well, and a link to purchase the video/dvd.
 

Jason D. Tiller

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Thanks for that, Paul.

I have seen that site, but not that particular link. The computer animations are very well done and the documentary looks very interesting. I'll have to make a point of purchasing it in the near future.
 

John Clifford

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Jason: I hope that, for 2009, you will be able to attend a memorial service in Rimouski, or in one of the other towns near the sinking site. I'm sure the local Salvation Army groups hold a similar event every year.
 

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