The year 2012 marks the 100th anniversary of the infamous sinking of the ill-fated liner HMS Titanic. And the historic city of Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada played a critical role in the unfolding tragedy.
The ocean liner left Southampton, England on April 10, 1912 with the intention of arriving in New York City five days later. As we now all know, in the late evening of April 14th, the Titanic encountered an ice field in the north Atlantic. (Icebergs are quite common in the north Atlantic shipping lanes at that time of the year.) And in the early hours of April 15th, that grand ship sank off the coast of Newfoundland, Canada.
The owners of the Titanic, the White Star Lines, had offices in St. John's Newfoundland (the port city closest to the site of the tragedy). However, ice in the harbour of St. John's, Newfoundland prevented any recovery ships from leaving that port. And Halifax offered direct railroad connection to New York and points south. So, the White Star Lines had to call on merchant marine ships in Halifax (the next closest port city) where they also had offices. (Halifax is roughly 500 kilometres from where the Titanic sank.)
Because of that, the historic city of Halifax became the resting place for 151 Titanic victims who lay buried in three different cemeteries. Twenty one victims were buried in Halifax's Roman Catholic Mt. Olivet Cemetery. And there are ten victims buried at the Jewish Baron de Hirsch Cemetery. But, Halifax's Fairview Cemetery (in the city's north end) is where most victims were interred. This cemetery has become one of Halifax's most visited sites. Here, 120 victims (both passengers and crew members) lay buried in four rows. (People often comment that the pattern of the monuments looks like the hull of a ship.) Among the many victims buried there are; John Dawson (the lead character in James Cameron's movie, Jack Dawson, was modeled on this 19 year old Southampton resident), Luigi Gatti, the manager of the Titanic first class restaurant Cafe Parisienne, and many others. These are just a couple; there are many other compelling stories of the passengers and crew who came to rest in Halifax.
This April specifically and throughout the rest of the year, Halifax will mark this historic city's tragic Titanic connection with many related activities; talks, dinners, museum exhibits, tours and the like.
For more information, take a look at the official "Titanic in Nova Scotia" website, or get in touch with Andy via his guide profile page.