Rediscovering the Titanic in Canada and New England
The grand staircase of the Titanic. Photo by Jason Leppert
Cruise travelers heading to Canada and New England certainly have changing fall colors to look forward to at this time of year, but beyond the beautiful scenery, ship buffs will also have the history of the Titanic awaiting discovery in Halifax, Nova Scotia as well.
Returning to the port of Halifax yesterday aboard the Seabourn Quest reminded me of a private tour that my parents and I took a couple of years ago here focused exclusively on the infamous ocean liner and its doomed passengers, so few of whom survived the ship’s sinking in 1912. After all, its hard for modern cruise guests not to be captivated by the so-called “unsinkable” ship – White Star Line’s then brand new pride and joy – that sank now over a century ago.
Thankfully, many of the safety regulations that we are protected by at sea to this day first resulted from the sinking, the story of which begun in Southampton and ended in Halifax. The established maritime community served the Titanic aftermath by having the infrastructure capable of recovering the bodies and debris left behind.
Among the passengers, George Wright, a prominent Haligonian businessman, was hoped to be among the recovered, but his body was never found. Nonetheless, his residence still remains among other Georgian and Victorian style homes and can still be seen. Second class passenger Hilda Slayter, who was returning to Canada for her wedding, thankfully did survive, and the home where she was born can also still be visited as St. Paul’s parish offices, adjacent to which is The Five Fishermen Restaurant. Previously, the building housed Snow’s Funeral Home, put in charge of many of Titanic’s deceased.
For those recovered, religious services were held at a number of local churches of various denominations, with a majority buried in three cemeteries. There is a Catholic one, a Jewish one and a non-denominational one, Fairview Lawn Cemetery, where 121 were laid to rest. With the help of new deduction and modern DNA evidence, several once unknown have since been identified.
READ MORE: 10 Ways to Enjoy Scenic Canada & New England
Remarkably, floating wreck-wood was also recovered after the Titanic sank, and a number of pieces are on display at the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic here, from a fully intact deck chair to a sizable hand-carved panel. There’s even a first class bathroom cabinet that is still intact. But the panel (pictured above) is the most impressive relic serving as a time capsule of the ship and its impeccable craftsmanship and luxurious lifestyle.
It once crowned a first class lounge doorway, and its original carpenter marks and varnished surface remain to preserve the ship’s memory. Only ragged edges, fractured seams and recessed mounting holes tell the narrative of a remnant likely torn from the liner as it violently broke apart and then sank.
Of course, there is much more to Halifax, Nova Scotia than the Titanic, but its history makes for a fascinating series of points of interest throughout the city and a good reminder of how important cruise ship safety is today.
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