Encyclopedia Titanica

Hélène Baxter

Mrs James Baxter (Hélène de Lanaudiére-Chaput) was born on 29 March 1862 in Joliette, Québéc and claimed the fabled French Canadian heroine Madeline de Verchères as an ancestor.1

Hélène Baxter
(Courtesy: Alan Hustak, Canada)

By the time Hélène was born, the family had social standing in Quebec but no money. In August 1882 she married James ("Diamond Jim") Baxter, a diamond broker and banker. They had three children, Anthony William, (1883), Mary (Zette) Hélène (4th April, 1885) and Quigg Edmond (13th July, 1887). The children were raised to speak French to her, and English to her husband. The family moved into a huge mansion at 1201 Sherbrooke St. W., which later became the head offices of The Corby Distilling Company.

Baxter Mansion
Baxter Mansion, 1201 Sherbrooke St.
(Photo: Alan Hustak, Canada)

In 1892, James Baxter built what might be described as Canada's first shopping mall, putting 28 stores under a single roof in the Baxter Block on St. Lawrence Blvd. He opened his own Ville Marie Bank, and by 1898, Men in Canada described him as the country's largest private banker "a philanthropist who devoted a large share of his accumulated wealth to improving the outlying districts of Montreal."

Baxter Building
Baxter Building, St Lawrence Blvd.
(Photo: Alan Hustak, Canada)

The family's reputation fell apart in 1900 when her husband was arrested, charged and convicted of embezzling $40,000 from his bank - a fortune at the time. He was jailed for five years, and died in 1905 shortly before his 66th birthday. Mrs Baxter was well provided for. Her husband had investments in France, Switzerland and Belgium. She sold the mansion and moved into a comfortable brownstone at a still respectable address, 33 St. Famille St., near the McGill University Campus.

In 1911 she sold the Baxter Block and took her son and her married daughter 'Zette Douglas with her on another of her frequent excursions to Europe. They booked passage home on one of Titanic's most expensive suites, B 58/60, which cost £247 10s 5d. Before boarding Titanic they stayed at the Elysee Palace Hotel; Paris. They boarded the Titanic at Cherbourg (ticket number PC 17558).

Mrs Baxter was ill with nausea during most of the voyage, and found the throb of the engines relaxing. When the ship stopped in mid-ocean, she had an anxiety attack. Her son, Quigg, carried her up the Grand Staircase and put her and his sister into lifeboat 6. As he kissed them goodbye he gave his mother a sterling silver brandy flask so she might keep warm on the open ocean, and she berated him for his drinking.

After the disaster, she returned to Montreal and never recovered from the effects. She died in her apartment on 19th June, 1923 and is buried in the Baxter family plot in Notre Dame de Neiges cemetery.

Baxter Grave
Baxter Family Plot
(Photo: Alan Hustak, Canada)

Notes

  1. According to the story taught in school, in 1692 Madeline tricked a raiding party of Iroquois indians into believing an unarmed stockade was heavily guarded. The indians fled, a massacre was avoided and her family were given title to an entire county north east of Montreal that still bears the name Lanaudiére.

Titanic Passenger Summary

Name: Mrs Hélène Baxter (née de Lanaudiére-Chaput)
Age: 50 years and 17 days (Female)
Nationality: Canadian
Marital Status: Widowed
Last Residence: in Montréal, Québéc, Canada
Embarked: Cherbourg on Wednesday 10th April 1912
Ticket No. 17558, £247 10s 5d
Cabin No. B58/60
Rescued (boat 6)  
Disembarked Carpathia: New York City on Thursday 18th April 1912
Died: Monday 18th June 1923 aged 61 years

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References and Sources

Montreal Gazette, 20th June, 1923, Obituary
Contract Ticket List, White Star Line 1912 (National Archives, New York; NRAN-21-SDNYCIVCAS-55[279]) Alan Hustak (1999) Titanic: The Canadian Story. Vehicule Press. ISBN 1 55065 113 7

Newspaper Articles

Edmonton Daily Bulletin (30 April 1912) TWO CANADIAN SURVIVORS AND A VICTIM OF THE TITANIC
Quigg Baxter, Mrs Baxter and Mrs Douglas

Images

Baxter Grave
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Comment and discuss

  1. Charles Provost

    Charles Provost said:

    Was Mrs. Baxter née Delaudenière or Delanaudière? Her biography on ET is kinda confusing. It says she was born Delaudenière, but at the bottom of the page it says that her name is associated with the Lanaudière county. Any help appreciated. Charles

  2. Lester Mitcham

    Lester Mitcham said:

    Charles, in the index to his book: Titanic The Canadian Story, your fellow Canadian, Alan Hustak, lists Baxter, Hélène de Lanaudiére Chaput. Just to confuse matters Michael Findlay had Helene DeLaudeniere Chaput; which has been Revised as: Helene De Lanaudiere-Chaput. Hope this helps, Lester

  3. Eric Sauder

    Eric Sauder said:

    Just to throw this into the mix.... Mrs. Baxter's name, as inscribed on the family marker at the cemetery in Montreal, is H. De Lanaudiére-Chaput Baxter Eric Sauder

  4. Mike Herbold

    Mike Herbold said:

    According to the Calif. Death Certificate of Suzette Baxter Richardson (thanks to Phil Gowan), her mother's maiden name was Helene Delanaudiere.

  5. George Behe

    George Behe said:

    Her marriage certificate spells it "Smyth." :-) (Duck, George!) :-)

  6. Charles Provost

    Charles Provost said:

    Hey, I couldn't expect better answers. (especially George's) Thank you. BTW, the Lanaudière county in Quebec is charming. I wish everyone to visit it one day. Their maple syrup is delicious...

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Credits

John Baxter, Canada (Quigg Baxter's nephew)
Phillip Gowan, USA
Alan Hustak, Canada
Hermann Söldner, Germany

Link and cite this biography

Encyclopedia Titanica (2017) Hélène Baxter (ref: #17, last updated: 10th August 2017, accessed 3rd December 2021 19:22:51 PM)
URL : https://www.encyclopedia-titanica.org/titanic-survivor/helene-baxter.html