Tuesday, May 29, 2012

RMS Empress of Ireland

The sinking of the RMS Empress of Ireland on the St. Lawrence River, eastbound from Quebec to Liverpool, on this date in 1914 marks the worst maritime accident in Canadian waters.

Sailing in heavy fog, The Empress was hit broadsides by a Swedish coal ship Storstad which gashed the Empress below the waterline, causing her to sink in less than 14 minutes, leaving 1012 passengers and crew dead. She lies at the bottom of the river near Rimouski, Quebec.

Several boards of inquiry were conducted to understand what happened and why. The Canadian and Swedish boards differed of course. One month after the sinking Archduke Ferdinand was assassinated leading to WWI. Meanwhile, The Canadian Pacific Company, owners of the Empress of Ireland were quite content to minimize any bad publicity in order to keep their transoceanic shipping and mail contracts and to minimize passengers fears.

While Canadians were becoming involved with the war effort, the story of the sinking of the Empress was overshadowed by war news and later of the Lusitania's demise. The Empress of Ireland was quickly forgotten.


1 comment:

Martha said...

So quickly that I never heard of it!!!!