Sunday, 29 January 2017

Canadian connections on Titanic

Watching the Titanic movie recently, I wondered whether there were any Canadian connections. I have to confess that I am somewhat infatuated with the stories of the passengers. It began while I was still of school age and saw a newspaper article about Edith Russell and her toy pig and immediately became hooked. Following is my research on a few passengers provided with a Disclaimer: I do not admit to being a Titanic expert, this is purely a personal interest article.

©British Library
There were 130 Canadian passengers on board Titanic bound for Montreal, Toronto, Halifax, Winnipeg, Calgary and Vancouver. In April 1912, 82 of those 130 passengers died and 48 people survived.

DICK  - Mr. Albert Adrian, aged 31 and Mrs.Vera Adrian (Gillespie), aged 17 from Calgary. 1st Class. Albert Dick was born in Winnipeg, however, after moving west he started a sawmill operation near Ponoka, Alberta and was doing well by 1904. His company built the Hotel Alexandra on 9 Avenue S.E. and the Dick Business Block on 8th Street S.E. Mr. and Mrs. Dick were married the same day the Titanic was launched -May 31, 1911. Thomas Andrews befriended the couple on the ship as he became aware of this unusual connection. Their home on 7th Street, S.W. Mount Royal in Calgary, Alberta still stands. They both survived.

FORTUNE -  1st Class. Mark Fortune born in Wentworth, Ontario. As a young man he was struck with the idea of making it rich in the U.S. gold rush and set off for San Francisco. Upon returning to Canada, he came to Manitoba at the time when, as a result of the Riel Rebellion, the Metis lost their land rights to the Canadian government. Fortune snapped up a huge land parcel close to the Assiniboia River. This was to prove to his advantage, as not much later a portion of his land was acquired for the building of Portage Avenue. Mark Fortune made his mark on the City of Winnipeg as a respected City Councillor and trustee of the Knox Presbyterian Church. He married Mary McDougald and their children were Robert, Clara, Ethel, Mabel, Alice and Charles. Upon Charles' graduation from university, Fortune decided to celebrate and took his family on a Grand Tour of Europe. Two children, Robert and Clara stayed behind as they were building their lives in British Columbia. Mary, Ethel, Mabel, Alice survived. Mark and Charles perished.

NORMAN - Robert Douglas, a 27 year old electrical engineer from Glasgow. 2nd Class. From correspondence, it was presumed he was going to visit his younger brother George Stanley in Vancouver. He is noted as playing the piano with Alfred Pain and Mrs. Weisz. His body was recovered with £5 and a pocket watch - he is buried in Fairview Cemetery Halifax. Recently, Norman's 'will' was discovered in the National Archives of Scotland - record no. SC70/4/439/463, which can be found on Scotlands People. In the NAS article, Susan NEWMAN is noted as his great-niece. Norman's watch is preserved at the National Maritime Museum. His brother George Stanley Norman is found on the 1911 Canadian census as employed at the City Office (presumably Vancouver City Office) and married to Anne. Both were born in 1886 and the census notes the year of immigration to Canada in 1909. Did not survive.

PAIN - 2nd Class. According to 'Titantic the Canadian Story', Alfred Pain was the youngest to graduate from University of Toronto medical school and was returning from King's College Hospital London after a year's residency. In the 'ebook' Voyagers of the Titanic he is mentioned as playing the flute in accompaniment to Douglas Norman and Mrs. Weisz. Did not survive.

PEUCHEN - Major Arthur Godfrey - 1st Class. The only Canadian millionaire aboard, was Major Peuchen was from Toronto. Being a well-heeled traveler, he booked a small modest cabin behind the purser's cabin. Survived.

WEISZ  - Mr Leopold - Bromsgrove, Eng. to Montreal PQ, aged 28, ornamental stonemason, 2nd Class, embarked at Southampton. His body was recovered with money secreted in the lining of his suit and coat. His residence is noted as Montreal and he is buried in the Baron de Hirsch cemetery. His wife, Mrs Leopold (Mathilde) aged 32, survived. Mrs. Weisz is mentioned as accompanying Douglas Norman and Alfred Pain in a musical performance on board.

WISEMAN - Mr. Phillipe to Quebec City PQ, aged 54. 3rd Class, Embarked at Southampton. According to Encyclopedia Titanica, it is not certain whether the man listed on the Titanic has been verified as from Quebec - he is noted as a 'jack-of-all trades' who traveled Europe on a spending spree. It was also noted that he was separated from his wife. 

Website: Encyclopedia Titanic 
Titanic the Canadian Story by Alan Hustak
Voyagers of the Titanic Passengers ('ebook'), Sailors, Shipbuilders, Aristocrats, and the Worlds They Came From by Richard Davenport-Hines
Journal: Titanic Commutator

PS: If you didn't catch it in the first part of the article, the Toy Pig was donated to the National Maritime Museum in London. They were able to get the music box working so that now you can hear the song it may have played while on the Titanic!

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