Montmagny research project


Steve Santini

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Nov 29, 2000
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Hello,
I recently acquired a deck chair which is believed to be a Titanic deck chair recovered by the Canadian Fisheries and Lighthouse vessel "Montmagny" which was based out of Quebec, Canada. I am currently in the midst of a research project on both the Montmagny and her role in the recovery of both Titanic victims and also debris from the area of the sinking. While it is reported by the Rev. Prince that the Montmagny did recover a newel post and small bits of wood from the Titanic disaster area, no specific mention in his diary is made of the recovery of a deck chair. That is not to say one was not picked up, it merely means one was not mentioned in Prince's "on board" diary which he wrote while at sea on board the Montmagny in his capacity of clergyman blessing the recovered dead from Titanic. In my quest to establish provenance on this chair, I am seeking out any and all information having to do with the Montmagny's Titanic victim recovery mission. There are already a number of things I have found out which prove that this chair is A) a White Star Line chair, and, B) IS of the style used during the Titanic era (1912); i.e., it is a perfect structural match to known examples of Titanic chairs (this is significant as White Star changed the designs of thier deck chairs. This design change took place in the early 1920's). Should any of the contributors to this message board have any info on the Montmagny, I would be most interested in hearing about same. I have a MASSIVE Titanic resource library and I have exhausted almost every known Titanic book in my quest for information. What I am needing now are any and all period 1912 newspaper accounts which deal with the Montmagny's mission, telegraph messages sent from the Montmagny to shore, letters discussing the mission and particulars of it, and... the Holy Grail, the log books of the Montmagny. However, given the fact that the ship was sunk in 1914, and, given the fact that the 1912 log books may have been aboard the Montmagny when she sank, I really hold out little hope of ever finding them although I will keep looking in the records of the National Archives of Canada. If any of you have any previously unpublished or undiscovered bits of Montmagny info, then this researcher would sure love to hear from you! I thank all in advance for any help which may come my way. Kind regards, Steve Santini.
 

Steve Santini

Member
Nov 29, 2000
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171
Dear Catherine,
Thank you for the links but I have already exhausted all of the conventional and well known sources of Titanic related information. It seems from the Montmagny info out in the public domain the ship recovered 4 bodies, and made two trips to the area of the sinking to search. Even in Allan Ruffman's book, which is a little more detailed, (as Ruffman had access to the diary of clergyman Prince who was in fact on board),all that is mentioned in any detail is that the Montmagny sighted "wreckage" (which of course could very likely have contained MANY deck chairs), recovered an oak newel post, and saw (on the second trip out) small bits of wood scattered far to the East of the disaster site. What I am really looking for now are any sorts of period newspaper reports where perhaps the Captain or crew of the Montmagny were interviewed following thier return to port (such newspaper accounts would probably be in French as the Montmagny was based out of Quebec, Canada), any letters written by crew members while on the 2 body recovery missions, any records of telegraphy between the Montmagny and shore (or other ships in the area) during it's 2 missions, or, as I said earlier, "The Holy Grail"; the ship's actual log books. The reason I posted my quest here on the ET board is becuase of the fact that this board plays host to an extremely diversified assemblage of Titanic historians and researchers. I know it is a "long shot", but maybe, just maybe, someone here may know something no one else has yet discovered or documented which could help me in my research. Thank you for your posting and your effort to help. I still hold out hope! Regards, Steve Santini.
 
G

Gavin Murphy

Guest
S,

No necessarily so re: reports in French. Quebec City was VERY English in 1912. Check the archives for the Chronicle-Telegraph (I think that is the right name off the top of my head)...it might have something. It was a major paper in Quebec in 1912. It was publishing as recently as the 1990s as a weekly and may still publish.

G
 

Steve Santini

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Nov 29, 2000
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Thank you Gavin,
Keep that info coming folks! It is much appreciated. Regards, Steve Santini.
P.S. Gavin, I may be seeing you in Ottawa...
 

Earl Chapman

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Jan 2, 2005
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Steve,
Rufman's book "Titanic Remembered: The Unsinkable Ship and Halifax" also mentions that Rev. Samuel Prince (who sailed on the C.S.S. Montmagny) kept a diary at sea. He also went on to write a narrative that was published in the local Halifax newspapers on the ship's return. Have you managed to track down Prince's diary and/or the Halifax newspapers? Rev. Prince also 'published' The Montmagny Moon on May 20, 1912 which came out "once in a blue moon." It would be great to see this publication. Have you contacted Alan Ruffman to see if he can help with these publications (the Ruffman book includes his mailing address)? Alan has an extensive collection of Rev. Prince's papers. Also, have you discussed your project with the Nova Scotia Public Archives? Lastly, Rev. Prince was the curate at St. Paul's Anglican Church in Halifax and it might be worthwhile to talk to someone at the Church regarding the Rev. Prince archives.

Earl Chapman
Montreal, Canada
 

Steve Santini

Member
Nov 29, 2000
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Dear Earl,
Thank you for your suggestions. I am very familiar with Mr. Ruffman and his collection of items owned by the Rev. Prince. However, in the Prince items held by Ruffman, there is no item which would help me in my quest. Nor is there any specific info in the Halifax newspapers which pertains to the information I seek other than a reference to the Montmagny encountering a large amount of surface wreckage from Titanic. The mere fact that Prince recorded in his diary that the Montmagny recovered an oak newel post, indicates that the crew of the Montmagny were in fact predisposed to recovering "souvenirs" of the Titanic as were thier predecessors on the Mackay Bennett and the Minia. That a deck chair was not specifically mentioned in Prince's diary as one of the items recovered does not in any way prove that one, or more, were in fact not recovered by the Montmagny. It is recorded that on both of her trips to the disaster area, the Montmagny saw floating wooden wreckage.I am also fully aware of the Titanic information and files held by the Nova Scotia Public Archives and I also know that this repository holds no information which may be of help to me. I know this because I myself lived in Halifax for a number of years and I spent many a day at the archives immersed in my Titanic research. Regarding the Montmagny's mission; it is of interest to note that the title of the smallest number of Titanic "souvenirs" gathered by one of "recovery" ships seems to go to the Mackay Bennett. This makes perfect sense. As the first ship sent out to recover bodies, and, as the ship that found the most numbers (over 300), the men of the Mackay Bennett were far too occupied hauling bodies on board to take the time to collect a large number of "souvenirs". This is in sharp contrast with the crew of the Minia. During her mission, Minia found a mere handful of corpses (only 17). However, the one thing the Minia did bring aboard in greater quantity was quite literally PILES of Titanic wreckage. Deck chairs, vast amounts woodwork, planking, etc, are all recorded as having been salvaged by Minia. Why so much stuff?... Simple answer; with fewer bodies to find, the crew had more time to retrieve wreckage from the sea. Now, take the Montmagny. Here is a ship that went out not once, but TWICE to the area of the sinking. On both of these trips, Montmagny succeeded in finding only 4 corpses in total. During these missions, Rev.Prince records they saw much wreckage including; hats, white and polished woods, and a great section of the ill fated Titanic's decking. Despite all of this wreckage floating about and only 4 bodies in total being found, are we to believe that Montmagny only recovered a single solitary oak newel post? I think not. On board the Minia, Will Mosher, ship's surgeon, writes home that "this ship is full of souvenirs at present". I imagine the same situation may very well have also prevailed on board the Montmagny. I would also not find it a stretch of the imagination at all to envision her crew recovering AT LEAST one deck chair among many other items. Thank you for your suggestions. Kind regards, Steve Santini.
 

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