Page 69c2 Great Canadian Heritage Discoveries
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More important Canadian antique memorabilia the Museum has preserved.

Great "Titanic" Ship Disasters - 1750-2006

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flashing newGreat Canadian Heritage Treasure An utterly fabulous painting, almost a century old, of Canada's worst ship disaster. In the fog, east of Quebec, a collier holed the Empress and she went down in some 15 minutes with 1,073 souls.

The ribbon was produced shortly after.

Go to The Empress Sinks
Original Oil, Sinking of the Empress of Ireland, 1914 - DS Gay 1928
Orig. oil on board - Image Size - 33 X 48 cm
Found - Liverpool, UK
flashing newGreat Canadian Heritage Treasure A fabulous wooden relic from one of Canada's oldest ships.

Left from the last days of French rule in Canada, a hunk of the oak planking from the King's 74 gun, ship of the line, L'Orignal - moose to you - launched at Quebec at Cape Diamond in October, 1750.

The 74 gun ship of the line was a French invention and was a state of the art war ship till the Napoleonic Wars of 1796-1815.

Unfortunately L'Orignal broke her back during the launching and sank in the channel.

Her timbers were salvaged in 1879 and made into walking sticks, etc.

The wife of the Governor-General, Princess Louise - you know, the one named after Lake Louise - had an entire room in her English home, paneled from the wood.

Go Louise & Her Lover

Ships have been a major source for road kill souvenirs for those who don't like littering their living rooms with animal matter of different kinds...

Go to the Powerful


Go to the Age of Sail & Steam

Relic, L'orignal - 1750

Orig. wood relics - Size - 5 x 13 cm
Found - Toronto, ON

flashing newGreat Canadian Heritage Treasure Souveniring Canada's Greatest Arctic Disaster: In 1845 British explorer Sir John Franklin, in two ships, the Erebus and the Terror, and some 130 men, set out to find a way through the ice-bound channels around the north end of the Canadian arctic.

They never returned, and within a couple of years, search parties set out by land and sea to try to reach the spot in the arctic where they might possibly be. But all that was ever found were relics and bones.

It turned out that the ships had frozen in and the men abandoned them and tried to walk out, south to Hudson's Bay posts. None of them made it. Relics were gathered from Inuit people who salvaged what the men abandoned, or dropped, as they died of starvation.

During a seal hunting expedition, in Canada's high arctic, Canadian school teacher and historian John Goldi (right with lynx from his trap line) trekked along the southern shore of King William Island, an area where only a handful of white men have ever been.

He followed the exact trail of Franklin's men, by snowmobile during April, the same month the men died along the shore, when the land was snow-free, but the ice was still thick on the sea.

He found several cairns containing bones, set up in the 1930s by Hudson's Bay Manager Paddy Gibson FRC.

The jaw bone, left, probably from a cabin boy who was on the expedition, was found by itself, along the shore by Johnny Anguttitauruq, a hunter who was accompanying John Goldi, and brought it to him.

"Kabloonak! Not Eskimo!" said Joseph Nahalolik, another hunter who looked it over. "Yes" eagerly nodded his wide-eyed wife Bessie, a renowned Inuit artist. They both knew all the bone remains of all the Inuit people in the area.

There are no teeth, indicating scurvy had ravaged through the gums of the dying men as they trekked along the shoreline.

It was an emotional moment, to be so in intimate contact with one of Canada's great historic tragedies in a spot which was still exactly as it was when Franklin's men stumbled to their deaths along the barren coast.

Both Inuit hunters, friends who accompanied John Goldi on this hunt, in 1975, died young, a few years later, in tragic accidents: Joseph Nahalolik, by falling off his snowmobile, and hitting his head on jagged ice, and Johnny Anguttitauruq, who shot himself accidentally when unleashing his rifle from his sled.

The Canadian north has by far the highest accidental death rate of any place in Canada. These are only two of many friends and colleagues who died there in tragic mishaps, in boat sinkings, freezing to death, accidental shootings, going through the ice, or from snowmobile crashes. He had many close calls himself.

Go to Close Calls in the Canadian Arctic
Sir John Franklin's Jawbone, 1847
Lower jaw - Size - 10 cm d
Found - Peffer Point, King William Is, NU

A Decent Interval - Unlike soldiers in Afghanistan, and Americans souveniring body parts off Indians after massacres, and Blacks after lynchings while they are still quite warm to the touch, and bloody, most of us wait a decent length of time before we collect human body parts. And we don't kill people to get them, just so we have something to take back home to show the folks or to lord over the other guys in the mess.

In fact, finding human bones, in the remote areas of Canada's high arctic - where few humans, let alone white men ever go - is not uncommon. On one occasion John Goldi found a human skull, with a bullet hole in it.

Alarmed, he collected it (1974) and brought it to one of Canada's top archaeologists, Dr. Walter Kenyon (1917-1986) at the Royal Ontario Museum - the Toronto Police Forensic Lab was not remotely interested, that someone was carrying around a human skull in downtown Toronto.

Kindly Walter explained the life history of the person - an Inuit woman with many maladies - and that the "bullet hole," was not, but a hole made long after the skull was on the ground.

Then he informed me that our "good intentions notwithstanding," we had broken several laws regarding human remains...

He kindly refused to accept the skull for research saying, "I have lots already." Getting rid of a human skull in Toronto proved to be a major problem, and an adventure in itself.

Later, Dr. Kenyon was himself, charged with numerous violations of the Cemeteries Act, by First Nations groups, whose burial sites he was fond of digging up...

Great Canadian Heritage Treasure
The most dramatic shipwreck picture we have ever seen is this fabulous, and widely published, litho by US print maker extraordinaire, Currier & Ives... and its Canadian!

The sinking of the White Star Liner SS Atlantic, April 1, 1873, off the village of Prospect, Nova Scotia, is Canada's second worst marine disaster of all time with the loss of some 562 people.

It is, we believe, the only Canadian disaster - they produced many US ones - that Currier & Ives ever memorialized.

But they outdid themselves with this one, wonderfully blending in the true horror of how hundreds of people lost their lives: floundering in the heavy seas, falling off the rescue rope, vainly scrambling up the masts, massing on the sinking decks, as the pounding sea reduces one of the finest ships in the world at the time, to kindling in mere minutes.

With CNN immediacy - for the age - this very print is also wonderfully contemporary, actually hand coloured within only weeks of the disaster.

The Wreck of the Atlantic, Currier & Ives - 1873
Orig. hand painted lithograph - Image Size - 23 x 32 cm
Found - Toronto, ON
The George Harlan Estate Coll
flashing newGreat Canadian Heritage Treasure The Bystoneder: It saw, it heard, it felt...

... the constant clang of picks and shovels digging the mass grave, the sobbing women, the wailing chorus of hymns during the burial...

This is the most primitive level of historic stone relic, the bystoneder, just a random stone lying about somewhere on a historic location, which just "stood by" while horrific history was happening all around it.

Stoned on History - A totally undocumented memorabilia type we've favoured for over 60 years, is small stones gathered from the centre of important historic sites.

We've run into souvenir hunters who have stolen pistols from museums, archivists who have robbed museum vaults for their personal collections, or have chipped pieces from grave stones, removed chunks from buildings, ripped off signs, dug up battlefields, etc. Probably you've done some of it, yourself...?

All very destructive and often highly illegal.

Which is why we prefer plain stones that are lying about everywhere, by the thousands, at key historic locations.

They are superior to most souvenir items because, hell, they were there... when it happened... They saw; they heard; they felt; through every nook and cranny, they absorbed the history, of people, places, and events.

This bystoneder is millions of years old and lived quietly for all that time. Then for one brief moment, in March 1902, it saw, felt, and heard, all hell break loose around it...

Go to The Atlantic Sinks
Bystoneder Relic, Sinking of the Atlantic Site, Lower Prospect, NS
Orig. bystoneder - Size - 8 x 10 cm
Found - Lower Prospect, NS
This is the very scene the bystoneder saw, heard, and felt, in April 1873...
flashing newGreat Canadian Heritage Treasure A fabulous Currier and Ives print of a common disaster that might befall anyone who boarded a sailing ship or steamer, on Canada's coastal or inland waters.

People below decks would build fires to cook, or had candles or lanterns for light. Sometimes, especially during storms when everything rolled about, they might fall over and flames or coals would ignite flammables.

Many ships on the oceans and on Canada's Great Lakes caught fire this way and went to the bottom. Passengers - who were usually sleeping below - burned up or drowned.

The City of Montreal, like the Atlantic were sailing ships which also carried steam engines, switching back and forth depending on the winds or the timetable for arrival.

Go to Currier & Ives


The Burning of the City of Montreal, Currier & Ives - 1887
Orig. hand painted lithograph - Image Size - 23 x 32 cm
Found - Toronto, ON
The George Harlan Estate Coll
flashing newGreat Canadian Heritage Treasure A fabulous antique print with original frame and glass from the 1890s, was typical of the type of decorative paintings hung by Canadians to remind them of the trials and tribulations their families had faced, at one time or another, in making the Atlantic crossing to seek out a new life in Canada.

There are countless stories of magnificent efforts by local fishermen making heroic rescues by swimming with ropes or venturing out with small boats to get a lifeline aboard a foundering ship.

These magnificent prints are rare to find these days. This huge original print, in mint condition, that has been wonderfully preserved in a loving home, for well over a century.

Go to Great Ship Prints


Lifeboat to the Rescue - c 1890
Orig. chromolithograph - Image Size - 51 x 67 cm
Found - Bond Head, ON
Great Canadian Heritage Treasure This is a fabulous original work of art, a reverse glass painting, which was all the rage from 1880-1917.

But it was original art done on an assembly line, with a group of artists all working individually to produce the same pattern with their own paints on their own piece.

Ones in fabulous condition like this are rare.

In the early 1900s, as immigrant traffic to North America increased rapidly, Germany and Britain competed in building the largest and fastest passenger liners to capture the market.

In 1911, the White Star Line launched the sensation of the era, the Titanic, reputed to be so large and safe she was widely considered to be "unsinkable."

On her maiden voyage, in April 1912, racing to win the Blue Riband, for making the fastest passage across the Atlantic, she hit an iceberg in the middle of the night and started to sink.

In a "Night to Remember" she went down with some 1200 passengers and sent a generation into shock.

Original Reverse Glass Painting, Sinking of the Titanic, April 1912
Orig. reverse painting on glass - Image Size - 41 x 51 cm
Found - Brampton, ON

Even though this painting was produced to a pattern, no two are ever exactly alike. They are originals, not repros. Each is an individual creation, hand crafted by an individual artist, and antique, done in 1912.

The original paint, and often silver foil for lights and windows, was applied by an artist on the back of the glass, to protect it from abrasion, and covered over. So, under the loupe, in close up, you will see only the surface of the paint, no dots from a photomechanical reproduction.

Still, variations in temperature and the different coefficients of expansion of glass and paint, have wreaked havoc with many of these paintings. Many have badly peeling paint. So many have been thrown out.

Other companies produced other patterns. We have seen two patterns for the Sinking of the Lusitania. But many other subjects were endlessly repeated.

Go to Reverse Glass Ship Sinkings
Go to the Immigrant Ships

Eino Panula identified 2002 through DNA.Above a variety of alterstones in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Right two faces from the Halifax cemetery, Eino Panula, recently identified through DNA and a mother Alma Paulson who set out for Canada with such hopes for her four children

Two Titanic Disasters - Anyone who compares "A Night to Remember" (1958) with Canadian James Cameron's modern film laughs at the comparison.

Sorry but, we have never been able to watch through Cameron's silly teenie bopper film. And were mesmerized again, recently after rewatching A Night to Remember.

Cameron's truly awful film, gets off to a bad start by featuring an old looking Winslet with a teenage DiCaprio, which looks as if - art imitating life - a female teacher is on an illicit outing with an underage student.

Sure it happens, but the horrific miscasting of another Mrs. Robinson - yeah both Iris, the Irish Prime Minister's wife, and her teenie dude, and the one with Dustin Hoffman - killed the feel of the entire film for us.

(Iris, the one whose lawyer came up with the excuse that she was suicidal - you know the story - instead of just tired of the old guy, and horny.)

The special effects are great, but exactly that, and never transport us into the film. We feel constantly we are on the special effects set, and not aboard Titanic. Unlike, in the 1958 film, where the the horror builds, and the effects take us into the bowels of the ship making us fear we - the viewers - are being trapped below.

If you want to experience the real horror of a sinking, the smells, the atmosphere, the pathos, and really fine special effects that convey documentary truth and conviction, the 1958 film is far superior. The special effects there are placed at the disposal of the film, and the story, not the other way around, like in Cameron's case, where he tried to build a credible movie around the digital creativity of Silicon Valley, and failed, big time.

It's no wonder then, that the acting on all levels is better in the old movie too.

And the editing for sure, with Cameron with his eye on teenage girls, dragging the teacher and her teenie dalliance, endlessly through the ship's waterlogged corridors, just because he had the sets to overindulge himself big time to do it.

The Cameron film is a great example of how modern filmmaking has degenerated as the box office rules production values - get those teenage girls swooning and they'll come back to the theatre, four, five, ten, times and multiply ticket sales at levels unheard of, in times past when older, more mature theatre goers, went to see Casablanca only once...









Alma Paulson

Postcard - Empress of Ireland - c 1907
Orig. pc - Image Size - 9 x 14 cm
Found - Winnipeg, MB
Canada's worst marine disaster occurred on May 29, 1914 in the Gulf of St. Lawrence east of Quebec near Rimouski.

The Empress of Ireland was holed after colliding with the Norwegian collier SS Storstad in the fog.

She went down in 15 minutes, taking 1,073 lives.

Postcards like this became treasured items as former passengers considered themselves lucky to have survived the crossing and lived.

As Dollie Jones wrote her parents after a train trip to board the Empress, at Liverpool.

"We arrived here quite safe and sound" and then it's off once more, probably to Canada. "We do not sail till 5:00 tonight."

The date of this card is problematic. Dollie purchased it aboard ship so it dates from sometime after 1905, when the Empress was built till 1914, when she sank.

The date is very garbled but the stamp is King George V who was crowned in 1911.

The stamp though, is the "Downey head," from a photo by W&D Downey, and was not issued till 1912. So it has to be 1913 or 1914.

Dollie Jones probably sent it in January 1913, the year before the ship sank.

Many recreational divers have taken artifacts from the wreck including human remains as well as its bell.

Many divers have since died while exploring the mass grave site and trying to find stuff to steal.

In 1998 Canada passed legislation preventing people from penetrating and taking things from shipwrecks in Canadian waters.

But hundreds of Empress plates, windows, bottles, etc. have been sold on ebay.

flashing newGreat Canadian Heritage Treasure A fabulous discovery of an ultra-rare memorabilia plate, that went below the radar of the ebay seller who owned it in Belgium, and all the high-brow ebayers who surfed the posting. No one even put in a bid, and the rare plate went unsold...

Till our sleuthing curator found it, in the rubbish heap of history, - the expired files on ebay - which he prowls at night looking for badly labelled items from sellers who don't know their history. These are very often women, who prefer the "pretty" collectibles to the militaria looking stuff, which they give a throw-away price and name, which means, of course, that the pros can't find it, when they go hunting with their bookmarks... (Some of the very finest - and cheapest - items in our collection have come because we are aware of this fact.)

Our curator's eagle eye had detected the prow of a pre-World War I German battleship probably of the Nassau class.

More spectacularly he was able to make out a faint U-9 on the side of the conning tower of the submarine.

It is none other than the famous German U-Boat U-9 with which Otto Weddigen sank Aboukir, Cressy, and Hogue in one attack in September 1914.

But was the plate old, or a modern repro?

Checking the rear of the plate proved to be the clincher. It showed clear signs of age, proving it was not a modern repro.

It's stamped Villeroy & Boch, a famed German ceramic maker that started business in France in 1748, as Boch, moved to Luxembourg later, and to Mettlach Germany, in 1801. They've been Villeroy & Boch since 1836.

Mettlach is often found on the back of its stamp. Except on this plate, which had a longer hard-to-make-out place name.


U-9 Patriotic Plate - Villeroy & Boch 1914
Orig. plate - Size - 30 cm
Found - Brussels, BEL

Further research showed that the Villeroy factory had been located in Wallerfangen in the Saar since 1789.

And in fact it's now possible to see that the stamp bears that name in the crescent where Mettlach is usually found.

But the Wallerfangen factory was closed, because of the depression, in 1931...

So the plate clearly dates from before that time, making it virtually certain it dates from the patriotic output during World War I.

A rare plate in fabulous condition that memorializes a time when men of all nations, forget themselves and elevate warfare and killing to the top rank of human pursuits.

Below the expired header from the ebay plate which our crafty curator found and acquired for $38. It's worth hundreds...

Once again it proved to be a woman who did not know her WWI, battleship, or submarine history, even though it all is concerned with a recent time when millions fought and died in her very own back yard...

Great Canadian Heritage Treasure Quite possibly the most rare plate from World War I is this large and fabulous German commemorative of one of the most stupendous feats of arms ever carried out by a submariner in war.

On September 1914, U-9, under Captain-Lieutenant Otto Weddigen, successfully stalked three large British cruisers in the North Sea, some 22 miles off the coast of the Netherlands, and within an hour sank HMS Aboukir, HMS Cressy and HMS Hogue.

1459 British sailors lost their lives; some 850 were rescued.

That was a substantially bigger loss in lives than the 1198 that went down in the Lusitania torpedoing only three months later.

The event transfixed the public - with utter doom in the British Empire, with great jubilation in Germany - over a feat of arms that few could deny was a work of art by a master submariner.


Go to Submarine Attacks

Plate, German U-9 - September, 1914
Orig. plate - Size - 26 cm
Found - Epping, NH

The plate is highly unusual being of a highly glossy type of finish.

It also weighs double what is typical of a 26 cm plate, having the density more like that found in a ceramic trivet.

The mark, crossed swords, slightly curved, was used by Meissen, near Dresden, from 1818 to 1924. The pommels or dots at the end indicate this mark comes later in the period.

So it dates the plate to the First World War. The heavy wear on the base, as well as a significant, and very old, chip, which we have fixed, confirms this is, indeed, an original, and not a repro from a later period. It was bought in the euphoria surrounding the public adulation that followed Otto Weddigen's fantastic exploit in 1914.

Great Canadian Heritage Treasure In 1915, during World War 1, the German Navy was waging submarine warfare against British shipping.

The Cunard liner Lusitania, sailing out of New York, rounded the coast of southern Ireland and was torpedoed by German submarine U-20 under Capt. Walter Schwieger.

She sank in 15 minutes taking some 1200 passengers to the bottom, including 115 Americans.

This reverse glass painting was one version that was produced to commemorate the event.

Go to Goodbye Lucy


Sinking of the Lusitania, May 1915
Orig. reverse painting on glass - Size - 46 x 61 cm
Found - Dundas, ON

A fairly rare and marvelous period piece is this "one-of-a-kind" reverse painted on glass portrait of the sinking which shocked the civilized world during World War I. This is not a litho or a print but an actual painted work.

The artist started with a blank piece of glass. A black outline drawing was taped to the front - the viewing side - then the glass flipped over. The black outlines were traced in black India ink or paint. When dry, the paint was applied in stages to fill in the outline panels, very much like in the paint by numbers paintings. So though the paintings were all originals, because they were painted over a traced form, they looked identical though the brush strokes of colour varied.

Being glass, and the paint on glass subject to blistering, over the decades, with changing humidity, few of these have survived the 90 plus years since they were made. This is only the second copy of this version of the Lusitania we have ever come across.

Great Canadian Heritage Treasure
Another version of a reverse glass painting of the Lusitania that one sometimes encounters.

This one features Schwieger's U-20 in the background left, just after she has shot off the torpedo that explodes against the ship, causing Lusitania to start to heel.

This painting has suffered more paint loss than the other one, especially on the funnels. However a good painter can restore this to mint condition with little effort.

Sinking of the Lusitania, May 1915 - Anonymous
Orig. reverse painting on glass - Image Size - 46 x 61 cm
Found - Dundas, ON

Above, the foil and paint combination on the back of the reverse glass painting.

This version raises one of the controversies that has still not been explained satisfactorily to this day - the second torpedo! - shown leaving the sub right...

A short time after the first torpedo strike another massive explosion tore through the side of the ship just abaft where the first torpedo had struck.

The British press denounced the savagery of shooting a second torpedo into a passenger ship that was already mortally crippled. To many, the second torpedo was morally worse than the first!

Below, the second torpedo strikes just behind the hole left by the first in a British postcard from 1915, which has more than just the date wrong!

Captain Schwieger's log says clearly that he fired only one torpedo... So how do you explain the second explosion?

Some say illegally carried munitions for the war effort must have been ignited and blew the ship up, not the torpedo of the Hun at all...

The most recent research - by Lucien Ballard's diving team - suggested that maybe coal dust in an empty bunker ignited and caused the second deadly explosion.

Nothing conclusive has been proven. Except that the second torpedo, which the artist clearly shows leaving the sub, was never fired. Just another example of war propaganda.

Great Canadian Heritage Treasure A fabulous piece of Canadian sheet music by FA Fralick shows that Canadians were as enthralled as Britons at the launching of the great ship in 1906, just a year after Caronia and Carmania top.

In 1907 she took the Blue Riband for fastest ocean crossing from the German liners who had held the speed record for ten years.

The Lucy and the Mauretania would swap the title for fastest western passage over the next few years.

When World War I started the Lucy continued to travel between Britain and the US, which was a neutral from 1914 till 1917.

Since the British government had agreed to put money into Lusitania in 1905, on the understanding that, in wartime, the Lucy would be converted to become an armed merchant cruiser, this was done.

Cunard's passenger liner Carmania top had already attacked and sunk a German converted liner the Cap Trafalgar in 1914.

Still there was great and unctuous outrage when a U-boat sank the Lucy off Ireland in 1915. Dastardly Germans - "Huns" they called them - sinking an innocent passenger ship.

Wealthy media owners and the political and military elites commonly use this type of selective hype in wartime and peacetime to harness popular outrage behind a policy they want to pursue - "Let's use this to get America into the war on our side!"

Greg Peck and John Wayne called the enemy in a later war "Japs." "Gooks" was preferred for the Vietnamese. Though we don't seem to use that term these days...

Today "ragheads" is the preferred term for Muslims and is very much in use among the military and political elites (privately mind you, but not so much on Youtube and Facebook) to describe the Afghans. These derisive epithets are useful to demonize a group of human beings you want your military men and women to target for killing.

The huge loss of life made this sinking unusual, and especially a volatile issue, and the hundred Americans who died came in handy to turn the US public against Germans and ultimately bring America into the war on the Allied side.

Sheet Music, Lusitania Two-Step - 1908
Orig. plate - Size - 26 x 35 cm
Found - Brantford, ON
Great Canadian Heritage Treasure An ultra rare plate from the ill-fated Lusitania.

This fine plate was bought aboard the Lusitania on her last completed voyage and has been in a Canadian estate since then.

Memorabilia of the great liners is highly prized.

Memorabilia like this, from the famous ill-fated liners is impossible to find at any price.


Go to Lucy Glass
Go to Lucy Medal


Souvenir Plate, RMS Lusitania - 1915
Orig. plate - Size - 23 cm
Found - Hamilton, ON
Great Canadian Heritage Treasure

Sheet Music, Siege of Ladysmith - 1900

Orig. souvenir ware - Size - 17 cm
Found - Dundas, ON

A fabulous Canadian memento from a horrible time when war was part of daily life and Canadian ladies chose to memorialize it in the china cabinets in their parlours.

Great Canadian Heritage Treasure In 1915, during World War 1, the Germans were waging submarine warfare against British shipping. The Cunard liner Lusitania, sailing out of New York, rounded the coast of southern Ireland and was torpedoed by a submarine. She sank in 15 minutes taking 1200 passengers to the bottom, including 115 Americans. To celebrate the feat of arms, a medal was struck in Germany.

As part of the campaign to demonize the enemy, and drum up support for the war effort, and relief for widows and orphans, replica medals were struck in the Allied countries.

Left is the cardboard box which held the medal and the plaid pouch in which it was stored. It is probably the most celebrated memento of World War 1.

The medal notes all the controversy surrounding the sinking including German charges - which the Allies denied - that the Lusitania was carrying forbidden contraband (guns and ammunition) for the war (and therefore a legitimate military target).

British Lusitania Medal, 1915
Orig. medallion - Size - 60 mm
Found - Dundas, ON
The front of the medal (left) shows the "Lucy" sinking with guns and airplanes on the foredeck, and the stern reprimand "No Contraband?" written on the top in German.

The rear of the medal (right) shows passengers buying tickets from a skeleton, representing Death, as Cunard's ticket agent in New York. One man reads the paper warning Americans not to board the ship going into the war zone - the German embassy had printed warnings. The medal also features the German ambassador wagging a warning finger at the passengers. A resigned motto at the top "Business Above Everything" accounts for Cunard taking chances by carrying war materiel as well as passengers.

The death of over 100 neutral Americans, is held by many to be a pivotal factor for turning Americans against the Germans and entering the war on the British side two years later.

This 2 1/4 inch medal is a copy of German medalist Karl Goetz's first medal, issued with the wrong May 5th date. Medals were found in many Canadian homes.

flashing newGreat Canadian Heritage Treasure Canadian Pacific's SS Princess Sophia was among many vessels plying British Columbia's inland waterways, being a vital lifeline for isolated communities to the outside world. Like any ship with a schedule to keep she sailed in a variety of unsettling conditions.

Predictably, like in the age of sail, there were steamship disasters with large losses of life.

The worst marine disaster on North America's west coast involved the SS Princess Sophia, which left Skagway, Alaska at night during a snowstorm, got off course and got stuck on a reef some 50 miles down the Lynn Channel.

At 2 am, on Thursday, Oct. 24, 1918, she got stranded with some 350 passengers atop Vanderbilt Reef.

She was soon surrounded by rescue vessels and photographers who would produce the most celebrated set of shipping disaster photos in Canadian history.

Go to the Sophie Breaks Up
Canadian Pacific Line Princess Sophia - c 1913
Orig. photo - Image Size - 23 cm
Found - Seattle, WA
flashing newGreat Canadian Heritage Treasures
Alterstone Relics, Grave Markers, Sinking of the Princess Sophia, 1914 - Vancouver, BC
Orig. alterstones - Size - 23 cm
Found - Vancouver, BC
Alterstone relics, in a Vancouver cemetery.

Alterstones - they have been altered to make them more useful - are the highest form of stone relics in a new international scientific classification system and nomenclature we have formulated.

Great Canadian Heritage Treasure A fabulous fan memento from another Canadian ship that came to a bad end, but this time on Canada's inland seas: the Noronic called the Queen of the Lakes.

Because Canada has the biggest surface area of fresh water of any country in the world, she had an inland steamer fleet to match.

The SS Noronic was launched in 1913, in Port Arthur, Ontario - today part of Thunder Bay at the far end of Lake Superior.

While on a cruise of Lake Ontario, with 700 aboard, she docked in Toronto harbour.

At 2:30 a:m on Sep. 16, 1949, fire broke out, probably from a cigarette dropped in a linen closet by a careless crew member. It soon engulfed the whole ship. Some 130 people burned or were suffocated to death.

The crew was widely blamed for cowardice and incompetence. None died; all escaped from the ship early on.

Of the five decks only one had an external exit. The fire hoses did not work - a disaster waiting to happen.

It ended the era of steamship travel on the Great Lakes as Canada Steamship Lines removed its passenger fleet from service the following year.

Fan, SS Noronic - c 1933
Orig. fan - Image Size - 38 cm
Found - Liverpool, UK
flashing newGreat Canadian Heritage Treasure

Lust at Sea: When Sex with the Ex...
is a Hex

A coastal ferry plows through the same fabulous Inside Passage once plied by SS Princess Sophia.

If you thought disasters could no longer happen to modern vessels you would be wrong.

You are looking over the bows of the Queen of the North on one of her last voyages through these waters.

At night, close to 1 a:m, on March 22, 2006, with 101 people aboard, as the huge ship was throbbing through these waters, so were the only two people in charge of guiding the ship.

The watch officer Karl Lilgert and Quartermaster Karen Bricker, who had reportedly, only recently ended a stint as lovers - both had new regular partners, who thought their mates were off steering the ship through the Inside Passage - for some reason decided to keep the ship on automatic pilot, turn off some alarm systems, dim the lights, and take some time off to reminisce or renew acquaintance, whatever.

For the next fourteen minutes, while they were otherwise occupied on the bridge, the ship ran on to an island at 17.5 knots.

Apparently the first words out of Mr. Lilgert's mouth were "Did you feel the earth move?"

No one knows what came out of Ms. Bricker's mouth.

The ship sank taking two people to the bottom.

"Hiss Boo" to the BC Ferry Service staff training department, who seems to instruct its people that when a ship is on autopilot you can take time off... you know, for whatever...

Go to The Queen Sinks
The Final Voyage - The Queen of the North on the Inside Passage
Orig. photo -
Found - Inside Passage, BC

The bow of the Queen of the North heading full tilt for a collision with a solid shoreline, while on the bridge, the two British Ferry Corporation employees - we're not sure if they were in uniform or not - responsible for guiding the ship safely through the night in BC's fabled Inside Passage, seem to be otherwise occupied rolling around on the floor.




The point of impact is clearly shown here.

Contrary to erroneous CBC media reports at the time, this is NOT a picture of Karen Bricker and Karl Lilgert, otherwise disposed, on the bridge of the Queen of the North during the fateful 14 minutes.

Canadian historian, and documentary filmmaker, John Goldi, on the trail of great Canadian ship disasters, aboard Queen of the North, just a few months before she sank. Unlike in Cameron's film, where a great ship threatened to take two lovers to the bottom, here two lovers actually did send a great ship to the bottom.

He is one of the diminishing few Canadians who actually made the Atlantic crossing aboard one of the great liners that brought immigrants to Canada from 1820 to 1960 before the airplane replaced them.

Right far right about to board the Cunarder Scythia in 1950 for the adventure of a lifetime, braving the wilds of the North Atlantic in December.

A guest of the captain on the bridge of the Queen of the North, he never guessed that he would end up having historic footage of the very spot where a short time later, Karl Lilgert and Karen Bricker would renew their acquaintance exploring the Inside Passage, and send a great ship to the bottom...

A Triple Hit - There are few people left who can claim, like John Goldi, to have made the transatlantic crossing in the big three: a classic immigrant ocean liner like the Scythia (1950), a propeller plane, like the Royal Canadian Air Force Yukon transport (1966), and the modern jet.

It took seven days for the Scythia crossing. We threw up constantly because of the big waves in the North Atlantic in December.

It took 10 hours for the Yukon transport to make the passage, from Montreal to Marville, France. We sat opposite the propellers; we could still hear the roaring of the engines three days later.

Modern jets... If people only knew how it was in the old days...

The unique and unforgettable smell of smoke in the carriages when we crossed the country by steam train in winter (1950) and again, pulled by early Canadian Pacific diesel engine #8519 in Winnipeg (1960.)










Go to Cunard Immigrant Ship