Thursday, 29 May 2014


Living in an area where there is a shipwreck every nautical mile, I forget sometimes they are not just a draw for divers from all over the world. Was one of your ancestors aboard a sinking ship?

A hundred years ago today, on May 29, 1914, the Empress of Ireland on its way from Quebec City to Liverpool collided with the SS Storstad on the St. Lawrence River, sinking within minutes. A total of 1,012 passengers and crew members aboard perished.
On May 1, 1915 the RMS Lustiana left New York for Liverpool and off the shore of Ireland on May 7th the ship was torpedoed by a German U-Boat. The ship sank within minutes taking the lives of 1201 men, women and children.

The most well-known disaster was the sinking of the RMS Titanic when it collided with an iceberg on April 14, 1912, four days after leaving Southampton UK bound for New York. More than 1500 people died in the frigid waters of the North Atlantic Sea.

the "Bording Pass" I received to view the Titanic Artifact Exhibition was in the name of Mme Juliette LaRoche, who boarded in France and was ravelling to Haiti with her usband and two daughters.  Her husband was Joseph Philippe Lemericer LaRoche, born to a wealthy family in Haiti, hoping to get a better paying job in his home country. I walked in Juliette's shoes as I wandered through this magnificent and emotional exhibit, seeing what may have been their 2nd class accomodations, the dishes they ate from, and the many personal items that had been carried by her and her fellow passengers. If you haven't yet seen the exhibit, I highly recommend it. 

Another preventable disaster was that of The Sultana, a Mississippi River steamboat that left Vicksburgh on the way to St Louis carrying over 2400 passengers – a ship that was meant to carry only 376 people. Most of the passengers were Union soldiers just released from Confederate prison camps near the end of the civil war.  On April 27, 1865, just a few miles after leaving Memphis the boilers exploded. The casualties were estimated to be about 1800 men.

In the 1800’s there were many lesser-known shipwrecks that, while their casualties were not in the thousands, they had been carrying beloved ancestors of someone.

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