Mr Mark Fortune was born on 2 November 1847 in Carluke, Wentworth County, Ontario, Canada.
The son of a farmer, Mark Fortune was a self-made man with a bank account that matched the family name. Lured to California by inflated dreams when he was still a teenager, he spent several years in San Fransisco. In 1871 he moved to the new Canadian province of Manitoba, where he married Mary McDougald from Portage la Prarie and they had six children: Robert, Clara, Ethel Flora, Alice Elizabeth, Mabel, and Charles Alexander. They lived at 393 Wellington Crescent, Winnipeg, Manitoba.
He made his money speculating in real estate, buying property along the Assiniboine River. When Winnipeg's main thoroughfare, Portage Ave. was surveyed it ran through much of Fortune's property and his prosperity was assured. He served as a Winnipeg City Councillor and was a trustee of Knox Presbyterian Church. His contemporaries remembered him as brash and self-confident, "probably the most expert of Winnipeg's curlers. His judgement was sound, his discrimination keen, his life purpose high." In 1911 Fortune built a substantial 36 room Tudor-style mansion, which although now converted into three condominiums, still stands at 393 Wellington Crescent. Mark Fortune never travelled anywhere without a Winnipeg Buffalo Coat, a heavy, motheaten fur garment. His wife tried to talk him out of packing so useless a piece of clothing on a trip to Egypt, but he considered it a talisman and wouldn't listen. The night Titanic sank, he came up on deck wearing it, joking that the coat had indeed come in handy in the cold night.
Left: Mark Fortune
Right: John Hugo Ross, Unknown, Thomas McCaffry, Mark Fortune and Thomson Beattie feed pigeons in St. Mark's Square, Venice, March 1912
Courtesy: Alan Hustak, Canada
In 1912 Mark and his family travelled through Europe on a vacation. The two eldest children stayed behind. On the tour, they met William T. Sloper who, it seems, was so taken with Alice that he decided to cancel his passage on the Mauretania and travel instead on the Titanic.
The fortune family boarded the Titanic at Southampton as first-class passengers (ticket number 19950, £263). They occupied cabins C-23-25-27.
Mark and Charles were lost in the sinking, their bodies were never recovered.
The chimes which still peal in Winnipeg's Knox United Church were installed and dedicated to his memory.