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A forgotten titanic tragedy

Posted by: | October 19, 2009 | No Comment |

Two notable shipwrecks took place in the 1910s, both of them in the Western Hemisphere. Two, the Titanic and the Lusitania, are embedded in folklore. The third, Empress of Ireland, is the deadliest maritime disaster in Canadian history but is largely forgotten.

from the Royal Alberta Museum

from the Royal Alberta Museum

The Empress of Ireland was built in 1906 by the Fairfield Shipbuilding Engineering Co. in a suburb of Glasgow, Scotland’s largest city. The ship made its maiden voyage to North America that same year. With an overall capacity of 1,580, she could travel from the U.K. to North America in six days.

It took 14 minutes to sink in the St. Lawrence River on May 29, 1914 . It collided with a Norwegian ship at 2:00 a.m. local time, causing 1,012 deaths. More passengers died in this tragedy than in the Titanic disaster. News regarding the survivors reached both sides of the Atlantic.

taken by Dave Hobson

taken by Dave Hobson

A second tragedy, resulting from the shipwreck, is taking place in modern times. The ship lies in 130 feet of water, well within the reach of divers. Robert Ballard, the oceanographer who discovered the Titanic shipwreck, found that divers are disturbing what many see as a grave site.

Titanic has Hollywood and the Lusitania’s demise helped lead to U.S. involvement in World War I. The Empress of Ireland is part of a novel’s plotline, reflecting its place in shipwreck lore.

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