|The Empress of Ireland - Chris Klausen|
name is Chris Klausen. I have always been very interested in the
Titanic and her story. 11 years ago in a book about shipwrecks, I came
across the Empress of Ireland and found her story just as compelling. I
wondered why neither I nor no one else seemed to have heard of her. On
eBay I found a diver named Bart Malone was selling artifacts from the
ship. I bought a salt pot, a butter cup and a small creamer—all
Third-class, everything for $78—and I was hooked!
Thus far I have collected over 130 artifacts from before and after the Empress sank. I am currently trying to put together a tour of my collection to cities throughout Canada. While I have succeeded in repatriating some of the major artifacts from the wreck to their home country, I believe that collectors everywhere who wish to perpetuate the memory of all those who lost their lives in this disaster should be able to own Empress artifacts.
Empress of Ireland, a handsome and well-appointed ocean liner, was
built for the Canadian Pacific Railway by the esteemed Fairfield
Engineering Company, Ltd. in Scotland. Designed by Dr. Francis Elgar
(1845-1909), the Empress was fully inspected and approved from drawing
board to sea trials. She was a twin-screw steamer weighing about 14,000
tons. She measured 548.9 ft. long and 65.75 ft, wide and had room for
350 First-class passengers, 350 Second, 1,000 Third, and 420 crew.
Empress was an imposing sight. She stood high as a four-story building
above the waterline. She was as long as two football fields and as wide
as a four-lane highway. Her public rooms were magnificent and her
dining lounges, elegant. On her maiden voyage on June 29, 1906 the
great ship left England for her first trans-Atlantic voyage to Canada.
At the speed of 20 knots (23 mph), she made the journey from Liverpool
to Quebec consistently in 6 days. She was a steady ship with a
reputation for solid comfort and excellent safety features.
Nearly eight years later on May 28, 1914, at 4:30 p.m. local time, the Empress pulled away from her berth in Quebec Harbor, heading for Liverpool, England with 1,477 people on board. This was her 96th voyage. Over the years she had safely carried 186,848 passengers.
minutes after the accident, the ship lurched violently on her starboard
side. A few minutes later, her stern rose briefly out of the water.
When her hull dropped below the surface at 2:09 a.m. hundreds of people
were thrown into the icy St. Lawrence River. Only 465 survived. 1,012
died. Of that number, 840 were passengers—eight more than died in the
sinking of the Titanic two years earlier—making this the worst
passenger death toll in peacetime history.
May 28th is the one hundreth aniversary of the sinking of the Empress of Ireland. An exhibit of my artefacts is on display at the Maritime Museum of BC. For a preview go to Empress of Ireland Anniversary - Shaw TV Victoria