Friday, 30 May 2014

Empress of Ireland Disaster - Thrilling Experiences

Salvation Army Officer's Account.

Rimouski, Friday. -- Thrilling experiences have been related by Salvation survivors of the Empress of Ireland disaster. Captain Wilson of Toronto, shared a cabin with Adjutant Green and Bandsman Johnston, who were saved, and Captain Dodd, of Toronto, who perished. Captain Wilson was awakened by the collision, but thought so little of the matter that he did not get up at first. Finding the ship listing, however, he rose with the others and went out, but owing to the slant of the decks they had difficulty in climbing to the rail. At last after they had noticed the odour of gas there came the roar of a terrible explosion, and Captain Wilson found himself thrown half stunned against the rail, which he grasped. He climbed over and found himself sitting with hundreds of other passengers on the ship's side, which as the vessel settled became almost horizontal.

A few moments later he was in the swirling water. He seized a piece of wreckage as he felt himself being sucked down, and he was under water for a seemingly interminable period. On coming to the surface he twice lost and regained hold of wreckage. The water was intensely cold but Captain Wilson managed to hold on until he was picked up by the second lifeboat which passed, the first being already overcrowded. He was given an oar, but was too benumbed to hold it, and be fainted. The next thing he remembered was being hauled into the Storstadt by a rope.

"When I was trying to reach the rail," related Captain Wilson, "a woman handed her five-year-old girl. I tried to lift the child so that Ensign Pugmire, who was clinging to the rail above me, could grasp it, but he could not reach it. I saw it was hopeless, so just before the plunge I handed the child back to its mother. I did not see them again."

Major Attwell, of Toronto, saved his wife and himself in one of the steamer's useless lifeboats. He found a life belt, and fastened it to his wife. He himself secured an air cushion, and with these the couple kept afloat, although they were sucked under three times when the ship foundered.

Captain Townsend, the officer in charge of the Salvation Army work in Quebec- City, will arrive here to-night to take charge of the bodies of the army victims. His wife was to have sailed by the Empress of Ireland, but was too ill to leave Quebec.


News was received at the Salvation Army headquarters, London, on Saturday, that Capt. Pugmire is among the rescued. This raises the total number of Salvationists rescued to 22, out of about 160 on board, Commissioner M'Kie left London this morning for Liverpool, where he will join the Aquitania. He is proceeding to Canada to take up temporary command there. "We shall all bow our heads in subdued sorrow, but the Salvation Army must march on," said Brigadier Perry to-day.

This article originally appeared in The Witness 2 June 1914.

image: British Newspaper Archive

Empress of Ireland Disaster - The Survivors



Several lists of the rescued passengers have been issued. The names are as follow --

F. E. Abbott (Toronto). Lionel Kent (Montreal).
J. R. Abercrombie (Vancouver). Miss Grace Kohl (Montreal).
Mr. and Mrs. P. J. Adie (Birmingham). Miss A. H. Lee.
A. J. Burrows (Nottingham). C. B. Lyon (Vancouver).
R. A. Cunningham(Winnipeg). C. Malloch.
D. A. Darling (London). Mrs. A. E. Mullins (London).
W. Fenton (Manchester). Mrs. H. R. O'Hara and daughter (Toronto).
Miss Doris Gaunt (Birmingham). Mrs. W. E. Patton (Sherbrooke).
P. Godson (Kingston). E. Seybold (Ottawa).
L, A. Gosselin (Montreal). Miss T. Townsend (New Zealand).
G. W. S. Henderson (Montreal). Rev. J. Wallett (London).
Miss J. T. Blyth. C. R. Clark (Detroit).
C. Gallagher (Montreal). Miss H. Taylor (Montreal).
L. A. Hyamson (London). Mr. and Mrs. Harwood Cash (Nottingham).

K. Abanok. K. Joyo.
P. H. Archer. Y. Kamimicky.
J. Anderson. James Johnston.
A. M. Arikkalam. A. Klamont.
Major Atwell. Adam Koklickach.
Mrs. Atwell. A. Kalebutala.
Miss Ethel Bachi. M. Kutchen.
Miss Edith Boch. J. Krutin.
Bokey P. Bartosch. M. Koczak.
M. Beoocries. Mrs. Kirtley.
Mr. and Mrs. J. H. Black --. Koschriss.
Miss D. F. Blythe. A. Kranchisky.
Elliss Boris. Miss F. Kruse.
T. Bonar Ryak Alfred Keith.
A. Bradley. Rowel Lea.
Mr. and Mrs. W. R. Brooks. H. Lawler.
J. K. Lenaly. Miss A. Lee.
A. Brown. Miss Martha Luren Linquist.
F. Brooks. Laurence L. Barbour.
J. Burns. J. J. Lennon.
G. Buckass. G. Maguire.
E. Byrne. J. Maguire.
B. Brict. Miss F. Maloch.
J. Braga. D. McAmmond.
Eric Burainon. W. H. Measures.
Alice Bales. F. M. Melson.
B. Chamboi. B. Minanch.
Charles Clark. Major Morris
--- Conspanion. S. Missila.
Miss E. Court. T. Munteau.
Jaz. Connor (colour). V. Moore.
J. R. Crombie. H. Mose
R. W. Crellin. --- Musychuk.
Mrs. G. C. Cook. John Murphy.
J. Fergus-Duncan (London). H. Murninnon.
Jack Rubenstein. M. Moseszuk.
W. Davies. Kenneth M'Intyre.
Gordon Davidson. P. Noenickky.
Dennis P. Darling. F. Calender.
D. Datonkist. Julen Patrick.
J. Evanson. Geo. Pott.
S. R. Delamount. W. Paschkowdis(?).
J. R. Delamount. E. Pugmire.
J. F. Elias. A. Pykara.
E. L. Erickson. G. Parkinson.
J. Erzinger. H. Peterson.
A. B. Evans. Mrs. Peterson.
Mr. and Mrs. H. Freman Wm. Quinn.
Buma Fano. Carl Randle.
F. Ferguson. K. Rautain.
A. Ferugay. A. Ranyon.
Tercy Flynn Flack. S. Robekjchenko.
A. Ford. T. Romanechi.--- Shodlak.
J. Fowler. A. Rainyecna.
W. Foss. John Salo.
Dr. James Grant. P. Sanderson.
--- Graywhit. M. Sanconia.
J. J. Gragowitz. Albert Smith.
Mr. and Mrs. Green. A. B. Spooner.
T. and Mrs. Greenway. W. Schakalida.
Martin Gill. A B. Smart.
Ernest H. Green. A. Sobiye.
A. Gray. M. S. Warnstone.
Herbert Greenaway. B. Sosison.
Y. Kanimiski. J. Scotni.
A. Hiller. B. Sundor.
Mr. and Mrs. G. Hedgecock. C. H. Smith.
Dr. Hunt. Miss Schongutt.
U. Holkis. Alan Taylor.
Grace Hannagan. Miss Wilmott.
Grace Hannagan. C. B. Wembauch.
D. Johnson (Fredricton, N.B.) Capt. Wilson, S.A.

The following are the crew saved, so far as can be ascertained up to 7-30 on Saturday evening --

Bruin, T. Hartford, N.
Brown, W. Hudson, J.
Clarke, J. Jones, D. H.
Downey, T. Jeffries, J. F.
Donnelley, E. Lang. B.
Dennis, T. Moran, J.
Diseley, J. M'Coy, J
Evans, A. M'Ewab, J.
Evans, J. M'Dougall, D.
Fitzpatrick, J. M'Guire, J.
Fawcett, W. Price, J. H.
Fitzgerald, H. Sims, J.
Gratwick, T.

Bailey, G. M'Ginniss, R.
Brown, P. Murphy, W.
Campbell, M. Mitchell, J.
Clarke, J. J. Neal, Henry.
Campbell, J. Quinn, J.
Cottle, Sam. Rowlands, T.
Duffy, J. Rockford, M.
Davies, P. Rochford, M.
Davis, J. Rice, E.
Dolan, P. Ryan, T.
Daves, J. Sheridan, P.
Donaldson, J. Smythe, J.
Foster, E. Stephen, J.
Gray, J. Smith, J.
Hayes, E. Toole, J.
Jackson, E. E. Toole, P.
Keegan, J. Whitty, J.
King J. Wilson, J.
M'Ready, T. White, Henry.
M'Ewan, J.

Cassey, J. Murphy, P.
Hood, T. M'Case, J.
Hutchinson, A. Neill, H. D.
Malone, P. or J. Hitty, J.
M'Ginnis, J.

Absolon, V. Grieves, G.
Brown, J. Gibson, J.
Challis, M. Green, F.
Cure, A. Griffiths, O.
Clague, R. Hughes, W. R.
Cooke, T. Hughes, W. L.
Campa, W. Hird, W.
Dixon. Hebret, W.
Dumbell, T. Harrison, F.
Donegan, J. Haish, S.
Dixon, A. H. Hayes, J. A.
Flimo, R. Jones, C.
Fireday, A. Jones, O.
Foyle, R. R. M'William.
Grey, A. Metcalf, H.
Gill, H. Myers, J.
Gregory, F. Metcalf, T.
M'Sherry, J. Smith, J.
Owen, W. S. Smith, A. E.
Price, T. Shannon, F. J.
Prouse, J. W. Smith, H. K.
Pritchard, O. Williams, A. C.
Parry, D. Williams, T.
Pritchard, J. Williams, R.
Pitts, W. H. Williams, Jos.
Rowan, W. Gaade, A. W.
Roberts, W. Hollies, H. (stewardess).
Robertson, J.

Brennan, R. H. M'Ewan, J.
Hampton, W. O'Donovan, G.
Johnston. J. A. B. Samson. W.
Liddell, R. R. Smith, A. E.
Moonie, G. Swan, J. H.
M'Donald, C. K. White, J. B.

Duggan, P. O'Donnell, D.
Darcy, F. Reardon, D.
Holding, S. Summers, J.
Megson, J. Stephens, J.
M'Adam. W. Sheridan, R.
Mahar, T. Williams, W.
Nelson, C.

Bratithwaite, J. Mathhewa, J. L.
Bishop, T. Rohr, A. S.
Cunningham, J. Sharkey, N.
(-?-)don, H. Shaw, H.
(-?-)tt, A Smith, T. J.
[-?-], P. Turner, J.
[-?-],A. Ventry, J.
Lee, S. Williams, D.
Lewis, J.

Cope, J. Prince, W.
Copplin, G. Thomson, A.
M'Aleavy, P. Wynn, T
Owen, R.

Burns, C.

Galway, J. Murphy, J.

Sprague, T. Bradley, A. C.

Bamford, C. Fergerson, J.

Duggan, J.

Dawson, A. M'Donnell, H. J.
Knight, R. Paterson, I.

Duckworth, W. B. Grant, J.

Davis, J.

Fife, O.

Grant, J. F.

Glassberg, R.

Hayes, E. Wakeford, C.

Hobson, S.

Jones, E. J.

Kendall, H. G. (slightly injured).

Marl, W. Powell, L.

Spencer, C.

R. Saunders.

The following deserted at Quebec -- Cooney, J.; Caldwell, J.; Doolan, J.; Mountain, T.; Neil, C. -- total, 211.

The following engineers, ex-Asia, were signed on for passage home -- James Rankin-Scott, W. Albert Smith, Bryan H. Lockhart, J. Homes Scotand -- all reported lost.

The 1914 funeral service for those who drowned on The Empress of Ireland.



Maginnis, A. G., director of Mappin & Webb, Ltd., London.
Holt, K. E. Toronto.
Goldthorpe, Chas., of Bradford.
Crathern, Miss, Montreal.
Gallagher, Mrs., Winnipeg.
Barlow, Mrs. A. E., Montreal.
Seybold, Mrs., Ottawa.
Bow, Adjutant and Mrs. De, Toronto.
Hannagan, E., Toronto.
Morris, Mrs., Toronto.
Green, Mrs., Toronto.
Findlay, Major, Toronto.
Lavis, Mrs., Toronto.
Potter, Brigadier,Toronto.
Bristow, Mrs., Westminster.
Paavetila and son.
Potter, Brigadier, Montreal.
Wilkes, Toronto.
Major Nettie Lymcoe, Manitoba.
Georgi Zonk and Bladisten Zonk.
Hannan, F. S., Manitoba.
Hunton, Mrs., Salvation Army, Manitoba.
Brooks, Dolly.
Potter, W., Manitoba.
Leonard Palmer, Mrs. W., Toronto.
Archer, Mrs. Hannuanen, E.
Kivolsky, Ivan.
Steele, R., chief officer
Wildman, J., storekeeper.
Braine, E., bedroom steward.
Thompson, G. J., plumber.
Peterson, V., carpenter.
Perry, H., assistant steward.
Pearson, Mrs. S. J., stewardess.
M'Grath, J., assistant steward.
Parkinson, second-class steward.
Rees, Mrs., Commissioner.
Maidment, Colonel.
Potter, Brigadier.
Findlay, Major.
Simcoe, Mrs., Major.
Harry Green, Adjt., and daughter.
Hannagan, Adjutant, and Mrs.
Guido Whatmore, Captain and Mrs.
Morris, Mrs. Staff Captain.

Montreal, Saturday Morning:-- The following is a list of the first class passengers saved -- F. E. Abbot, Toronto; Mr. and Mrs. Percy Adie, Birmingham, England; John Atkinson, A. J. Burrows, Nottingham; R. A. Cunningham, Winnipeg; W. Fenton, Manchester; -- Fallagher; Miss Doris Gaunt, Birmingham; L. A. Gosselin, Montreal; G. W. S. Henderson, Montreal; L. A. Hyamson, London; Lionel Kent, Montreal; Miss Grace Kohl, Montreal; C. B. Lyon, Vancouver; Mrs. O'Hara and daughter, Toronto; E. Seybold, Ottawa; Mrs. W. E. Patton, Sherbrooke; Mrs. A. A. Mullen, London.

The second and third class passengers saved were -- A. Benek, K. Archer, P. H. Anderson, J. Arikkalla,, A. M. Bachi, Miss Ethel Beck, Misa Edith Bartsih, K. Boskey, P. Baccerize, M. Black, Mr. and Mrs. J. H. Blyth, Miss B. P. Boris, Eliss Bomaryak, T. Bardley, A. Brooks, Mr. and Mrs. W. R. Brown, A. Burns, John Buckas, G. Byrne, E. Bract, V. Braga, W. Duraimen, Eric Botha Chamber, E. Clark, Chas. Conspanein Court, Miss E. Cannor, James Colore. D. Crombie, J. R. Davies, W. Davison, -- Gordon, -- Darling, -- Dennis, P. Datoukist, D. Lea,  -- Lowell, -- Lawler, H. Lee, Miss A. Lenaly, J. K. Lias, L. Linquist, Miss Martha Luren Maguire, E. Maguire, J. Maloch, Miss F. M'Cammond, D. Measure, W. H. Melson, F. M. Minanch, B. Missila, S. Munteau, T. Moore, V. Mose, H. Muzychuk, Murphy, John Murninaen, M. Moseszuk, M. Nernickky, P. Oslender, F. Patrick, Julien Pott, George Paschkowdis, W. Pugmire, E. Pykara, A. Quinn, Wm. Evanson, J. Jackson, E. L. Erzinger, J. Evans, A. B. Ferrigay, L. A. Fanobuma, Ferguson, F. Glack, Terey, Flynn, Ford, A. Fowler, J. Foss, W. Grant, Dr. James S. Graywhitz, J. Green, Mrs. Greenaway, T. Gill, Martin, Hanalaino, D. Hilweer, A. Hunt, Dr. Holkis, W. Joil, K. Kamnishi, Y. Klamont, A. Koklinkach, Adam Kaloyutala, Kutchem, M. Kritin, J. Keozak, M. Kairkhley, Mrs. Koschriss Krahchenky, A. Kruco, Miss F. Rubenstein, Jack Randle, Carl Kautala, K. Ramyena, A. Rebeljschenke, Silgor Romanechi, T. Salo, John Sanderson, P. Saneomnia, Monro Smith, Albert Spooner, P. Schakalida, W. Schedlok, Smart, A. B. Sobiye, A. Swarnstone, M. Sosison, B. Scotni, J. Sunder, B. Taylor. Allen Thalie, N. Totin, A. Tatti, Y. Tuchesk, M. Talebkka, A. Valinaki, T. Van Lanks, T. Vroilidvalky, Mrs. Hilda Ventre, A. Walker, A. Williams.

 Unloading the coffins of the children from Lady Gray


The following list, the fouHh to be received of second and third class passenger survivors was issued from the offices of the Canadian Pacific Railway to-day -- K. Abanok, F. H. Archer, J. Anderson, A. M. Arikkala, Major Atwell, Mrs. Atwell, Miss Ethel Machi, Miss Edith Boch, B. P. Bartsch, M. Decocriss, Mr. and Mrs. J. H. Black, Miss B. F. Blyth, Eliss Boris, T. Bonarynk, A. Bradley, Mr. and Mrs. W. R. Brooks, A. Brown, J. Burn, C. Buchas, E. Byrne, J. Braga, E. B. Burkinson, Florence L. Barbour, Alice Bales, E. Chamboi, Clark Conspanin, Miss E. Court, J. Connor (coloured), J. R. Crombie, R. W. Crollin, Mrs. G. E. Cook, W. Davies, G. Davidson, D. P. Darling, P. Datonkist, J. Evanson, E. L. Erickson, J. Erzinger, A. B. Evans, Mr. and Mrs. Freeman, Buma Pano, F. Ferguson, A. Ferrigay, Flack, Tercy Flynn, A. Ford, J. Fowler, W. Foss, Dr. John Grant, Graywhit, J. Grazowitz, Miss Green, T. Greenaway and Mrs. Greenaway, Martin Gill, Ernest H. Green, A. Gray, Herbert Greenaway, D. Kanalaino, A. Miller, Dr. Hunt, A. Holkis, Grace Hannagen, K. Joel, Y. Kamanishi, A. Klamont, Adam Kiklickach, A. Kalevutala, M. Kutchen, J. Krutin, M. Koczah, Mrs. Kirthley, Koschriss, A. Kranchisky, Miss F. Kruso, Alfred Keith, Rowell Lea, S. Lawler, Miss A. Lee, J. K. Leneley, L. Liss, Miss Martha Luren, Linquet, J. J. Lennon, G. Maguire, J. Maguire, Miss F. Maloch, D. Moannond, W. H. Measure, F. M. Melson, B. Minanch, S. Missila, T. Munteau, V. Moore, H. Mose, Muskchuk, John Murphy, M. Murninson, Moses Zuk, Kenneth M'Intyre, P. Noenickky, F. Calender, Julien Patrick, George Pott, W. Paschkowdis, E. Pugnire, A. Pykara, C. Parkinson, H. Peterson, Mrs. Peterson, Wm. Quinn, Jack Rubenstein, Carl Randle, K. Rautala, A. Renyona, Silgor Robeljchenko, T. Romanechi, John Salo, P. Sanderson, Moro Sancomia, Albert Smith, R. P. Spooner, W. Schakalida, Shodlok, A. B. Smart, A. Sobive, H. Swarnstone, B. Sosison, J. Scotni, B. Sundor, C. H. Smith, Miss Schongutt, Allan Taylor, N. Thalie, O. Totin, Y. Tatti. N. Tuchoskm, A. Talrobkka, T. Valinnke, T. Van Lanki, Varvited, Mrs. Hilda Valky, A. Ventro, A. Walker, J. Williams, Miss Wilmott, and C. B. Weinranch. The following is an additional list of first cabin passengers rescued -- G. Bogue, Smart, Mr. Cox Edwards, Mr. A. K. Wakeford, and his son, who was assistant purser of the ship; also the following second class passengers -- Mrs. Davies, Mr. T. Johnson, Mr. Herman Kruse, Mr. and Mrs. R. Simmonds, and Mr. W. Turpin.


Frederick Glynn, steward; Archibald Thompson, steward; Patrick Brown, fireman; W. Williams, greaser; Towland Ferguson, chief Marconi operator; Patrick Hoian, cook; F. Faige, cook; H. Mellen, steward; C. Burns, storekeeper; T. Flood, fireman; A. E. Smith, steward; W. Herbert, steward; R. Williams, steward; B. Malone, fireman; J. Moran, seaman; John Cook, pantryman; Daniel J. Jones, seaman; John Ryan, fireman; Tom Ryan, fireman; Edwin, cook; Charles H. Spencer, bellboy; John Gunn, trimmer; David Williams, cook; Percy Gee, steward; B. Absolon, steward; Miss B. T. Blyth, maid; T. Price, steward; A. Mill, cook; J. Vemtry, cook; H. Clandon, cook; T. Douglas, baker; R. Knight, butcher; John Hudson, A.B.; E. Bamford, jun., Marconi operator; A. Hind, steward; Thomas Williams, chief second steward; W. Grey, steward; N. Wakesford, assistant purser; A. Grant, electrician; J. King, engineer; William Adam, engineer; R. M'Lay, engineer; W. Fawcett, A.B.; F. Norman, bandmaster; A. Hemberton, musician; H. Shaw, baker; George Bailey, fireman; John Connor, greaser; H. B. Childs, musician; J. Mitchell, trimmer; S. Clarke, trimmer; P. Holland, cook; J. Turner, cook; P. Murphy, fireman; P. Dollan, trimmer; G. Megson, greaser; Henry White, trimmer; B. Long, A.B.; B. Davidson, storekeeper; John Whitley, fireman; Robert Sander, master-at-arms; A. Whitley, fireman; James M'Coy, storekeeper; B. Bishop, assistant cook; W. H. Hughes, steward; W. H. Pick, steward; H. Burrill, steward; C. Jones, steward; C. Williams, steward; G. Metcalf, steward; E. H. Swan, tenth engineer; W. S. Owen, steward; choreboy Officer; Mrs. Hollis, stewardess (the only stewardess saved); K. J. M'Henry, butcher; A. Symon, cook; E. Matthews, chief cook; Thomas M'Dougal, fireman; P. J. Smith, baker; A. Elliott, baker; W. G. Aade, chief steward; D. B. Buskworth, electrician; W. Malone, firenan; T. Molson, greaser; F. Baker, steward; J. Hayes, steward; M. Challes, steward; Captain Kendall; -- Johnston, chief engineer; John Brown, steward; James M'Ewan, fourth engineer; D. M'Dougall, A.B.; O. Pinner, steward; P. Murrfur, fireman; T. Mumbell, steward; A. Dunner, trimmer; F. Gregory, steward; A. Stevens, fireman; R. R. Little, third ergineer: S. S. Hodgson, officers' steward; Charles Jackson, fireman; H. Claigue, steward; P. Metcalfe, steward; P. Mountain, fireman; H. J. Houghton, trimmer; W. Clark, fireman; G. Sheredein, greaser; G. A. Stevens, greaser; J. Jeffrey, greaser; J. Holden, greaser; J. M'Coman, fireman; J. Clark, seaman; H. Jacques, steward; J. Poul, fireman; B. Readem, greaser; J. M'Kay, fireman; B. M'Donnell, greaser; A. E. Smith, engineer; T. K. M'Donald, extra fourth, engineer; O. Jones, steward; W. Brown, seaman; J. Campbell, fireman; J. Smyth, trimmer; J. M. Campbell, trimmer; J. M'Innes, trimmer; J. Simmes, seaman; E. H. Jones, seaman; J. Price, seaman; J. Smith, steward; O. Pritchard, steward; C. Parkinson, steward; T. M'Inness, fireman; T. Duggan, greaser; -- Dunnigan, steward; G. Grives, steward; R. Owen, steward; C. Cook, steward; J. A. Dugan, assistant printer; C. Copplin, pantryman; A. Dawson, butcher; -- Braithwaite, second baker; John Wilson, fireman; -- M'Etan, seaman; J. Keegan, trimmer; J. Fitzpatrick, seaman; -- Bohr, confectioner; Meonie Hunior, third engineer; Robert Brennan, jun., second engineer; A. Johnston, eighth engineer; J. D. White, seventh engineer; L. M. M'Donald, steward; J. Pulchard, steward; W. Cowan, steward; J. Gibson, steward; J. Geseby, A.B.; M. Hartford, A.B.; T. O'Toole, trimmer; A. Lewis, cook; F. Cuttles, trimmer; P. M'Alevice, oook; J. Patterson, butcher; A. H. Dickson, steward; H. R. Molland, steward; W. Roberts, steward; E. Shannon, fireman; A. Cure, steward; Rockford, fireman; W. Quinn, trimmer; A. Matthews, trimmer; M. Summer, fireman; Slasburg, barber; A. Gray, steward; M'Donald, butcher; Maul, steward; Powell, steward; Perry, steward; Nugent, steward; Mudtoch (Murdoch?), steward; D'Arcy, greaser; Edward Wright, fireman; G. Bradwicks, seaman; T. Downey, seaman; John Davids, trimmer; James M'Gill, seaman; S. Harrison, steward; B. Rius, seaman; Pat. Maher, greaser.


Quebec, Monday. -- The identification of the bodies is proceeding slowly. Those already recognised include H. Debond, Liverpool; W. B. Graham, Hong Kong; Mrs. Brigadier Hunter, India; Mrs. W. Jones, Briarly Hill; Mrs. Ledgers, stewardess; Colonel Maidment, Sydney, and Mrs. Maidment; Jack Murphy, waiter, Liverpool; Gordon A. MacGinnis, of London; H. Newham, steward; Mrs. W. Leonard Palmer, London; Mrs. H. Wynne, New Zealand; Mrs. Peerson, Liverpool; Mr. Steele, chief officer; Mrs. Clara Vincent. Weymouth.

This article originally appeared in The Witness 2 June 1914.

image top: Emigrants on the Empress of Ireland
image middle: Funeral of victims in 1914
image bottom: Unloading the coffins of the children from Lady Gray

Empress of Ireland - Cause of the Disaster




Empress of Ireland Enquiry

In the House of Commons at Ottawa on Saturday Mr. Borden, the Premier, read messages of condolence with the families of those who were lost in the wreck of the Empress of Ireland from the King and Queen, Queen Alexandra, the Duke of Connaught, Prince Alexander of Teck, Princess Louise Duchess of Argyll, Mr. Lewis Harcourt, and Mr. Massey, Prime Minister of New Zealand, on behalf of the Government and people of that Dominion.

Mr. Borden, replying to the last message, expressed Canada's sympathy with the New Zealanders who were bereaved by the disaster.

It is announced, says Reuter, that the Government will immediately introduce legislation to authorise the appointment of a specially constituted Commission of three members to investigate the wreck. The Imperial Government will be asked to appoint one Commissioner, while the Canadian Government will be asked to appoint two Judges with experience in Admiralty cases.

A representative of the Board of Trade left London for Ottawa yesterday morning to confer and co-operate with the Canadian authorities in connection with the inquiry.


A telegram received at the International Headquarters of the Salvation Army states that the following bodies have been recovered -- Mrs. Commissioner Rees (not Commissioner Rees as previously reported), Colonel Maidment, Brigadier Potter, Major Findlay, Mrs. Major Simcoe, Adjutant Harry Green and daughter, Adjutant and Mrs. Sannagan, Adjutant and Mrs. Deebow, Captain Guido Whatmore, and Mrs. Staff Captain Morris.

The statement cabled from Montreal that Major Morris had carried Commissioner Rees upon his back is a mistake.

General Both has received, the following message from the president of the Canadian Pacific Railway Company -- "Although satisfied that the terrible accident was due to causes beyond our control, the company's officers are filled with sorrow that there should have been such a serious loss of life, including so many members of your Army, among the passengers travelling under our control, the company's' officers are filled with sorrow that there should have been such a serious loss of life, including so many members of your Army, among the passengers travelling under our auspices. Be assured that you have my most sincere sympathy. -- Shaughnessy."

The Mayor of Toronto has also cabled -- "Toronto sorrows with you."

It was stated at the Salvation Army Headquarters to-day that Commissioner M'Kie, who left for Canada, on Saturday, would superintend the burial of fine bodies of the Salvationists. Up to the present only thirteen bodies out of 171 have been found. They hoped the survivors would be able to renew the journey and attend the International Congress.

Toronto, Saturday. -- Outside the Salvation Army Temple here a scene, tragic in its sadness, was witnessed yesterday. The list of the known survivors of the army delegates was read out, the twenty-two names having been telephoned direct from Rimouski to Colonel Rees, of the Toronto headquarters. On the steps of the building on the side walk, and inside the main doors crowds gathered to hear the list read. Hopes were high when the names were first read, but when so many were found to be missing from the 165 who left aboard the Empress of Ireland the scene was heartrending. There were no loud outbursts of grief, but eyes were filled with tears, and handkerchiefs were in every hand. Those who derived comfort from the fact that friends were saved tried to console the less fortunate. Even the hope raised by the officer who read out the list could not change the sadness of these, as once before hopes raised were destroyed a short time later when the report that all were saved was found to be false. Upstairs in the private offices women who had relatives on board the ship waited to the last moment, and before they went away the news was broken that loved ones were among the missing.


Montreal, Saturday. -- The disaster will be felt with particular keenness in practically every city and town of importance in Canada. Commencing in Montreal, with a list of twenty one passengers, those aboard came from every city clear through to Vancouver. Toronto had the largest representation, with a list of close on 150, chiefly composed of members of the Salvation Army and their friends. Vancouver, too, had a large list of passengers on board.


Among the first-class passengers in the ill-fated vessel was Mr. A. Hirst, of Birmingham, well known in Belfast. Yesterday, as his name had not appeared in the list of rescued, his friends mourned him as dead. But this morning his name is among the survivors with no worse results than a dislocated shoulder. Formerly he was the representative of Messrs. & Ball & Sons, of Birmingham, but for the past two years he has travelled for Messrs. Tonks, Ltd., of that city. For the past ten years he spent practically three months of each year in Belfast and during these visits he made a host of friends, who will all be glad to learn that they may hope to look on his pleasant and genial face again.


When the news of the foundering of the Empress of Ireland was first published it was rumoured that amongst the passengers was Mr. Frederick Dane, «f Toronto, Grand Master of the Province of Ontario West, and secretary to the Grand Orange Council of the World. It has, however, transpired that Mr. Dane left Canada earlier than he originally intended, and has just arrived in Glasgow by the Allan liner Grampian. Much gratification was expressed by his colleagues on learning of his safety. Mr. Dane is a Belfast man, and two years ago he was elected secretary of the Orange Council, familiarly known as the "Triennial Council."


Distinguished passengers who have not yet been accounted for, and who are known to have been in the liner, include --

Sir Henry Seton-Karr, the big game hunter.
Mr. Laurence Irving, the well-known actor.
Miss Mabel Hackney (Mrs. Laurence Irving).
Commissioner Rees, head of the Salvation Army in Canada, and Mrs. Rees.
Mr. W, Leonard Palmer, of the "Financial News," London.
Lieutenant-Colonel Bloomfield, Auckland, New Zealand, Mrs. Bloomfield, and Miss Bloomfield.
Mr. A. G. Maginnis, director of Messrs. Mappin & Webb.
Mr. A. B. Anderson, managing director of Ferranti, Ltd., Kingsway.
Mr. G. Bogue Smart, Department of Immigration.
Mr. A. Black, of the firm of J. R. Booth.


The chief Marconi operator at Father Point, who was called up by the sinking Empress of Ireland, is Mr. Whiteside, of Ballymena, County Antrim, Mr. Whiteside, who was formerly on duty at Sable Point, was also the first man at a land station to get the "S.O.S." from the sinking Titanic.

A Marconi operator at Rimouski gives the following account of the sinking of the liner -- The Empress of Ireland was rammed this morning at 1-45 by the Storstad twenty miles from Father Point. The Empress of Ireland sank within ten minutes. A "S.O.S." signal was sent out, and was received at Father Point. The Government steamer Eureka and the Lady Evelyn were despatched immediately to the distressed vessel's assistance.

The Empress of Ireland listed, and it was impossible to get out many boats. Captain Kendall was saved, being picked up on some wreckage by No. 3 lifeboat thirty minutes after the ship foundered. The assistant-purser, chief engineer, and chief steward were saved. The chief officer and purser are among the missing.


Among the earliest callers at the C.P.R. offices in London on Saturday was Mr. John Burns, who made inquiries on behalf of the King as to the number rescued from the Empress of Ireland. Mr. John Burns made frequent visits to the C.P.R. offices yesterday largely at the behest of his Majesty, who telegraphed the President of the Board of Trade desiring all particulars.

Late on Friday a telegram was received by Mr. Burns from Lord Stamfordham expressing his Majesty's deep sorrow and regret at the disaster, and expressing the sympathy of their Majesties with the relatives in their bereavement.

The following message was sent on Saturday to the King by the Canadian Pacific Railway -- "On behalf of the Canadian Pacific Railway I may be permitted to thank your Majesty for your Majesty's most gracious expression of sympathy conveyed to us through the Right Hon. John Burns, with the friends and relatives of those who have lost their lives or who have suffered in the appalling disaster to the Empress of Ireland. -- (Signed) G. M'LATREN BROWN, European Manager."

The following is a copy of the telegram sent to Sir Thomas Shaughnessy at Montreal by the King: -- "In the appalling disaster which has befallen your company by the loss of the Empress of Ireland, in which, alas, so many lives have perished, I offer you my sincere sympathy." -- GEORGE R.I."

His Majesty has also sent to the Duke of Connaught, the Governor-General of Canada, the following telegram -- "I am deeply grieved at the awful disaster to the Empress of Ireland, in which, alas! so many Canadians have lost their lives. The Queen and I assure you of our heartfelt sympathy with those who mourn for the loss of their relatives and friends." -- GEORGE R.I."

Queen Alexandra has sent the following cablegram to the Duke of Connaught -- "The terrible disaster that has occurred to the Atlantic liner Empress of Ireland in the St. Lawrence River grieves me more than I can say. Up to last night we had hoped in London that most, if not all, lives had been saved. But this morning I learn that the first sad report was too true, and that over one thousand people had been drowned. I wish to express to you my most intense sorrow at this awful catastrophe, and to beg of you kindly to see that my heartfelt sympathy may be conveyed to the relatives of all those who have perished. -- ALEXANDRA."


The King has subscribed £500 and the Queen £250 to the Mansion House Empress of Ireland Fund.


Paris, Saturday. -- The news of the disaster, which became known in Paris through the medium of the afternoon papers, caused widespread consternation. The offices of the Canadian Pacific Railway Company were almost immediately besieged by anxious inquirers, the majority of whom were British or American.

President Poincare, on being informed of the disaster, immediately sent a message of sympathy to King George.

M. Viviani, the Minister of Education, who is temporarily replacing the Minister of Marine, also sent a telegram to the First Lord of the Admiralty.


Quebec, Monday. -- Seventy-five bodies have been identified, amongst them, being the body of Sir H. Seton Karr, identification in this case being established by Mr. Elliott, the marine superintendent of the C.P.R. -- Central News.


There is much anxiety in Lisburn concerning the fate of Mr. John Scott, whose name appeared in the list of second-class passengers in the ill-fated Empress of Ireland. He belongs to Ravarnett, and has been in Canada for the past year and a half, having settled in Saskatchewan, where he had a farmstead, but he had recently disposed of it, and at the beginning of the present week Mr. Hall (managing clerk in Mr. J. D. Martins, auctioneer) received a letter from him stating he was returning home by the Empress of Ireland. There is a ray of hope that he is amongst the saved, as the name "Kingscott" is queried, and may be the two names joined -- King and Scott. The corrected list is awaited eagerly by his friends.


Ottawa, Monday. -- The Minister of Marine has received a cable from the Admiralty stating that the H.M.S. Essex has been placed at the disposal of the authorities to assist in the recovery of the bodies from the Empress of Ireland.

The steamer Glendele, under charter by the Dominion Coal Company, as was the Storstad grounded on Saturday near Father Point. She floated on the succeeding tide.

Montreal, Monday. -- A despatch from Father Point reports that the Grampian has picked up two of the boats of the Empress of Ireland. Both was empty.

An automobile patrol has been established along the coast.

Mr. S. Taunton, one of the executive officers of the Canadian Pacific, states that Captain Kendall has been exonerated by the Canadian Pacific of blame. -- Central News.

Quebec, Monday. -- Scores of the dead will undoubtedly have been buried before they can be identified. A pitiful scene occurred yesterday when two men claimed the body of a child as theirs. The case has been referred to the Mayor.

A party of five electrical engineers from Glasgow were on the Empress of Ireland. Four are believed to have been lost. They are -- James Rankin, Walter Scott, Albert Smith, H. Bryand, and J. Lockhart, and were formerly engaged at Fairfield Shipbuilding Yard. A telegram to Glasgow reports Smith saved. The passengers also included a party of nine, including William Russell, two daughters, son-in-law, and grandchildren, for Lanarkshire.

The Press Association learns that the master of the Empress of Ireland was Captain Kendall, who was in charge of the steamer Montrose when Dr. Crippen, the Hilldrop Crescent murderer, was arrested. Captain Kendall only took charge of the Empress of Ireland on her outward voyage from Liverpool. He had been in the company's service about ten years.

This article originally appeared in The Witness 2 June 1914.


Empress of Ireland Disaster - The Storstad



Montreal, Monday. -- The Storstad has arrived here. The collier appears to have been comparatively slightly damaged by her collision with the Empress of Ireland. Immediately upon the vessel's arrival she was seized, by the Sheriff, acting under a writ which has been granted to the Canadian Pacific Railway Company, who have presented in the Quebec Admiralty Court a claim for two Million dollars damages against the Storstad's owners. Captain Anderson has not yet broken the rule of silence which he has imposed upon himself since the disaster occurred, and the members of his crew have been almost equally taciturn.

From the guarded statements which have been made to the inquiry of Pressmen, however, it is gathered that Captain Anderson was not on duty at the time of the collision, and that the Storstad had been ordered astern before she struck the Empress.

When the writ was nailed to the Storstad's mast, Captain Anderson demanded, "By what authority do you board my vessel and place it under arrest?" The Deputy Sheriff replied that his authority was the authority of the British Empire.

Captain Anderson had a conference, with Mr. Lange, chief representative in America of the Maritime Steamship Co., and it was semi-officially stated afterwards that the captain had reported that the Storstad did not back away from the Empress of Ireland after the collision. On the contrary, the collier steamed ahead, making every effort to keep her bows in the hole dug in the side of the Liner. It was the liner which backed, according to Captain Anderson's version, and so doing the Empress of Ireland bent the Storstad's bow in an acute angle towards her port beam. Then the liner became hidden from the sight of the Storstad, and, despite the blowing of his whistles, Captain Anderson was unable to locate the stricken ship until the cries of the victims were heard.

Captain Anderson denies that the Storstad was a mile away from the liner after the collision. He declares that the collier did not move, but that, on the contrary, the Empress of Ireland changed her position. -- Central News.

Montreal, Monday. -- A statement issued on behalf of the captain of the Storstad was read by Mr. J. W. Griffin, of New York, representing the owners. Questioned afterwards Mr. Griffin said that Captain Andersen said he heard Captain Kendall shout through the megaphone, "Don't go astern." Captain Anderson replied, "I won't. I am going ahead" Mr. Griffin said if there had been any real way on the Storstad she would have sheered through the Empress like paper.


Montreal, Monday (Later). -- Captain Lange, the agent of the Maritime Steamship Company of Norway, the owners of the Storstad, issued an official statement after his conference with Captain Anderson, in the course of which he said:--

"It is not with the desire to condemn others, but simply because it is felt that the public is entitled to knew the facts that the following statement is put forward. The vessels sighted one another when far apart. The Empress was seen off the port bow of the Storstad. The Empress's green starboard light was visible to those on the Storstad. Under these circumstances the rules of navigation gave to the Storstad the right of way. The heading of the Empress was then changed in such a manner as to put the vessels into such a position as to pass safely.

"Shortly afterwards the fog enveloped first the Empress and then the Storstad. The Storstad's engines were at once slowed down, then stopped. Her heading remained unaltered. Whistles from the Empress were heard on the Storstad's port bow, and answered. The Empress was then seen through the fog close at hand on the port bow of the Storstad. She was showing a green light, and making considerable headway. The engines of the Storstad were at once reversed at full speed, and her headway nearly checked when the vessels came together.

"It has been said that the Storstad should not have backed out of the hole made by the collision. She did not do so. As the vessels came together the engines were ordered ahead for the purpose of holding the bow against the side of the Empress, thus preventing the entrance of water into either vessel. The headway of the Empress, however, swung the Storstad around in such a way as to twist the Storstad's bow out of the hole and bend the bow itself over to port. The Empress at once disappeared in the fog."

The statement adds that the boats of the Storstad immediately put off, and rescued about 350 persons, who were taken aboard, where everything was done for their comfort. The statements that there was the slightest delay on the part of the Storstad in rendering prompt and efficient aid did a cruel injustice to the captain, who did not hesitate to send out every boat he had, in spite of the desperate condition of his own ship.

This article originally appeared in The Witness 2 June 1914.


Empress of Ireland Disaster - Captain Kendall's Story





Captain Henry Kendall
Rimouski, Saturday. -- Captain Kendall, giving evidence at the inquest on the victims of the disaster to-day, said he saw the Storstad two miles away before the fog obliterated her from view. He immediately stopped the ship, rang full steam astern, and at the same time blew three short blasts with his whistle, meaning, "I am going full speed astern."

The captain added that the Storstad's whistle answered one long blast.

Soon after he blew two long blasts on his whistle, meaning that his ship was underway, but had stopped and had no way upon her. This also was answered by the Storstad. Two minutes later the Storstad's starboard and port light loomed up in the fog. The Storstad was a ship's length away.

Captain Kendall said that he shouted through a megaphone at the Storstad to back water, and at the same time had his own vessel go full speed astern, in order to try to avoid a collision.

After the Storstad's bows had cut into the Empress between her funnels, Captain Kendall asked her to keep full speed ahead and fill up the hole she had made, but the Storstad backed away, and the water rushed in.

Captain Kendall then tried to beach his vessel, but the water put the engines out of commission three minutes after the collision.


Captain Kendall, continuing his evidence at the inquest, said, that almost immediately after the engines had stopped the ship filled. She was going over all the time to starboard.

"I had in the meantime," he continued, "given orders to get the lifeboats launched. I rushed along the starboard side of the boat deck and threw all the gripes out for Nos. 1, 3, 5, and 7 boats. I then went back to the bridge and ordered the chief officer to send someone to tell the wireless operators, to send out signals of distress. He told me this had been done. I then said, "Get the boats out quick." It is possible that this was the last I saw of the chief officer.

"In about three or five more minutes the ship overturned and foundered.

"I was shot into the sea from the bridge and taken down in the suction.

"The next thing I remember was seizing piece of grating. How long I was on it I do not know. I heard some men shout from a lifeboat, 'There's the captain; let's save him.' They got me into the, boat. There were already about thirty people in it. I did my best with the people in the boat to assist in saving others. We pulled around and picked up twenty or twenty-five more. We also carried about ten in the water around the sides of the boat with ropes around the sides of the boat with ropes around their wrists, hanging on.

"Seeing that we could not possibly save any more, we pulled for the Storstad, which was then about a mile and a half away.

"I got all these people on the Storstad, and left her, with six of the crew, and went back to try and save more. When I got there everybody was gone. I searched around, and could not find anybody alive, so returned to the Storstad."


"What was the cause of the collision?" asked the Coroner.

"The Storstad running into the Empress, which was stopped," answered Captain Kendall.

A juror asked whether he received any answer when he told the captain of the Storstad to stand fast.

Captain Kendall replied in the negative. He maintained that it would have been impossible for them not to hear. "I shouted five times," he said, "and later also I shouted to keep ahead. If he did not hear that, he should have done that. As a seaman should have known that."

Was there a wind? It was quite still. When he backed away I shouted to him to stand by.

The captain further testified that he heard no explosion. He thought the so-called explosion was the rush of air from the hull as it filled. There were boats enough for all, and there was no panic. He had full control of the crew to the end. About four boats got away. These boats, whose gripes witness loosed, as the water rose floated away. The people were saved by the Empress's boats and the wreckage.

The Norwegian collier, Storstad, after colliding with the Empress of Ireland


Chief-Engineer Sampson was too ill to appear at the inquest, and his testimony was taken at his bedside. He said -- I was in the engine-room until the lights went out and there was no more steam. I had great difficulty in reaching the decks owing to the list, and I had no sooner got on deck than the life-boats which broke loose swept down on me, carrying me under. When I came to the surface I was under a lifeboat, entangled among wreckage. There was no explosion of any kind. I believe that if the Storstad had stuck to us we should have reached the shore.

The inquest was adjourned for a week, and Mr. Coroner Pinault in the meanwhile will take steps to determine what can be done to obtain the evidence of the captain and crew of the Storstad.


Statement by Sir Thomas Shaughnessy.

Sir Thomas Shaughnessy, President of Canadian Pacific Railway Company, has issued the following statement --

"The catastrophe, because of the loss of life, is the most serious in the history of the St. Lawrence route. Owing to the distance of the nearest telegraph or telephone stations from the scene of the wreck, there is unavoidable delay in securing official details, but we expect a report from Captain Kendall in the course of the afternoon. From the facts as we them, it is apparent that about two o'clock this morning the Empress of Ireland, when off Rimouski had stopped in a dense fog, was rammed in the port side by the Norwegian collier Storstadt in such a manner as to tear, the ship from the middle to the screw, thus making the watertight bulkheads with which she was provided useless. The vessel settled down in fourteen minutes. The accident occurred at a time when the passengers were in bed, and the interval before the steamship went down was not sufficient to enable the officer's to rouse the passengers and get them into the boats, of which there were sufficient to accommodate a very much larger number of people than those on board, including the passengers and crew. That such an accident should be possible in the river St. Lawrence, to a vessel of the class of the Empress of Ireland, with every possible precautions taken by the owners to ensure the safety of the passengers and the vessel, is deplorable. The saddest feature of the disaster is of course the great loss of life and the heartfelt sympathy of everyone concerned with the company goes out to the relations and friends of all those who met their death in the ill-fated steamship."

This article originally appeared in The Witness 2 June 1914.


Great Liner Sunk - Appalling Canadian Disaster


Collision in a Fog.


One Thousand Lives Lost.


Passengers Drowned in their Berths

The great Canadian liner Empress of Ireland was run down and sunk off Father Point, in the River St. Lawrence, early on Friday morning.

She left Quebec for Liverpool on the previous afternoon, and encountered a fog, which compelled her to stop.

While stationary she was struck by the Norwegian collier Storstad, and the port quarter from nearly amidships to the propeller was torn completely away.

The ship only kept afloat for a very few minutes. The water rushed through the riven side so quickly that most of the passengers were drowned in their berths.

The latest revised, reports state that the number of lives lost was 1,021. The number on board is given as 1,467, and the saved 446.

Quebec, Saturday. -- Little by little as the relatively few victims of the Empress of Ireland disaster who have emerged from the ordeal alive can be induced to tell their stories the full import of that night of horror becomes apparent. The outstanding impression among them all is the rapidity with which the tragedy was enacted. There was no time to put on lifebelts, no time even for the officers or stewards to rouse sleeping passengers below. The waters of the St. Lawrence settled over the great ship and converted her into a vast steel tomb.

The collision was quickly followed by the explosion of the ship's boilers, and to add to the terror of the situation the dynamos gave out, and the mass of people fighting for their lives were pitched into inky blackness. Mr. Philip Lawler and others among the rescued say that the explosion was terrific, and as it so quickly followed the collision it was evidently caused by water reaching the boilers. The people were simply catapulted into the sea.

"I Was Pushed Overboard."

"I was pushed overboard," Mr. Lawler said, "with my wife and my son, aged fifteen. The boy swam, and I was holding up my wife, but I had to let go of her, and she sank."

Dr. Johnston, chief medical officer of the ship, declared that if the Storstad had not backed away so soon there would have been a larger number saved. When the collier pulled away the sea surged into the hole she had made, and the liner foundered with amazing rapidity. The chief Marconi operator, Mr. Hayes, said -- "As soon as I felt the shock I was I ordered to call for help. Father Point quickly answered, but I could not talk with him, as five minutes after the impact the dynamos failed. Seventeen minutes later the ship sank."

Mr. M'Intyre, a member of this Salvation Army said -- "When I reached the deck I found the people standing about. There were no lifeboats there." When the vessel foundered Mr. M'Intyre swam in the direction of the collier, which rescued him. He declared that when he reached her the collier was all lighted up, and many of the rescued were aboard. The majority were scantily clad.

Liner Turns Over.

Major Attwell, of Toronto, who with his wife are among the saved, declared that the impact was only a slight one, and he was surprised afterwards at the awful consequences it had. When he tried to reach the deck he found it almost impossible to do so I owing to the list of the ship, which was lying wallowing on her side. As he swam on his back in the icy waters he heard a dull explosion, followed by a burst of steam, which spread to all parts of the vessel. Then the liner quickly turned over.

"It seemed as if we had turned turtle," he said. "I think many of the first class passengers were saved. I saw only one first class boat lowered. The weather was virtually calm. The behaviour of the crew on the whole was good, though it must be said the men hardly had time to effect rescues systematically, as the vessel was sinking before the crew or anybody else realised it. The crew tried to launch a boat over the upturned side of the Empress, but it was impossible owing to the list."

The Fate of Mr. and Mrs. Irving.

Mr. Clayton Burt, of Toronto, who is probably the last man who saw Mr. and ' Mrs. Laurence Irving alive, said "they sat at my table in the dining-room. They came along as I stood on deck and asked me what was the matter. I said, 'Save yourselves; we are sinking.' Mr. Irving went to his cabin and returned with two lifebelts. One he placed round his wife, the other he put round him. I then climbed the rail and urged him to follow me. He said he was coming, and as I looked bake I saw him and his wife climb the rail. I sank down to the water's edge. Then the explosion occurred, and as the ship made the final plunge I dived. When I came to the surface I met Miss Thompson, of New Zealand, who begged me to help her. I caught a floating suit case, to which we both held on till we were saved. Only two children are known to have been saved. One is Gracie Hanagan, aged eight, daughter of a leading bandsman in the Salvation Army. Her mother and father were drowned. The child was thrown into the water, where she seized some wreckage and floated until she was picked up."

Mr. J. Fergus Duncan, another passenger, of London, declared that when, the first boat was lowered she fell bow foremost into the water owing to a fault in lowering. When he heard the crash he went on deck and saw the collier moving away, while the frightened passengers were asking what had happened. They began doning lifeboats, and it was awful, he said, to see poor women without strength to keep hold of the railing as they were hurled back against the cabins.


One of the most graphic stories of the wreck is that told by Mr. Fergus Duncan, of London. "I was in my bunk when I heard three whistles, which meant 'I am keeping my course.' A moment later came two short blasts, signifying 'I have stopped.' I was scared and jumped hastily out of bed and started to dress. Then, the engines stopped suddenly, and a moment later they were reversed. I could see through the port hole that there was a dense fog. There came a terrific crash. The ship heeled over, and there was a frightful grinding noise and smashing of plates. I ran on deck half dressed. But as I got there the steamer listed much that I could hardly get away. There was not the slightest chance to lower the lifeboats owing to the list. All stuck in the davits, and those who could get lifebelts, but the time was too short with many even to put them on."

Asked as to the behaviour of the crew, Mr. Duncan said that so far as he could see they behaved well. There was no sign of panic among then. "Of course," Mr. Duncan went on, "there was disorder, as was to be expected in such frightful emergency, but I saw members of the crew helping passengers, and saw several men hand their lifebelts to women. I had left my lifebelt in the cabin, but I met a man who had two, and he gave me one, otherwise I should not be here.

A Struggle for Life.

"While we were all in this" confusion the ship gave a sudden lurch, and the whole lot of the passengers were rolled down the deck into the sea. There was a case of every man for himself. There was a shriek as the ship turned over, and. I heard women crying and praying and men shouting as they fell into the water.

"When I came up there was the same terrible noise in the sea, women and men crying and then dropping out of sight in silence, while men were fighting each other in death grips." Half a dozen seemed to grapple with me, and I had to fight them off as best I could. As it was I felt the naked bodies of dead men under my feet. I was in the waiter about an hour, and was finally picked up by one of the lifeboats nearly dead with exhaustion and cold. I don't suppose one out of a hundred passengers was dressed, but the excitement was so intense no one thought of that.

"We cannot speak too highly of the kindness shown us since we landed at Rimouski, but I suppose it will be some time before most of us recover sufficiently to appreciate it all."

The Sides Burst.

Mr. Duncan added that the officers he saw behaved admirably, facing death fearlessly, Captain Kendall was standing on the bridge until the ship sank, and apparently he was doing everything possible to save lives. What became of them, he said, I don't know. As the liner prepared for the final plunge I slid down the plates of her side. I had reached the water when the steam caused the sides to explode, creating great commotion. When the ship foundered I was caught in the vortex, and sank, but I quickly rose to the surface again, and swam to one of the liner's boats as she passed and clung to a rope. I was eventually hauled aboard exhausted and frozen, and was then taken to the collier and placed in the engine-room.

He was warned that some of the survivors there were raving mad with the shock and hardship they had undergone. The terrible scene he witnessed there beggared description. Dr. Grant, ship's surgeon, behaved in the calmed=st manner throughout the catastrophe, and was indefatigable in his attention to the survivors. He was instrumental in saving many lives. The assistant purser, Mr. Hayes, said Captain Kendall bade him farewell on the bridge when the water was lapping at their feet. Captain Kendall wore a belt, which he gave to a passenger. Mr. Hayes and Captain Kendall jumped into the river together. A lifeboat rescued Mr. Hayes half an hour later as he was sinking. Captain Kendall was discovered clinging, to some wreckage. He was taken to boat No. 3, of which he assumed active command, and saved seventy-three lives, in that boat alone. After placing these on board the rescue steamers, Captain Kendell returned to the wreck and rowed around for three hours, searching for possible survivors. Captain Kendall took the cars himself, and was indefatigable in hos exertions.


Surgeon Grant gave a graphic account of his experience. He said -- "I was in my cabin when the listing of the ship threw me out of my bunk. When I finally opened the door and reached the passage way it was so steep, due to the way the ship canted, that efforts to climb it were impossible owing to the carpet to which I was clinging breaking away. I then managed to get my head through the port hole, but was unable to get my shoulders through. The ship was lying almost flat in the water on the starboard side. A passenger finally pulled me through. About one hundred passengers had gathered on the side of the ship, but a moment after I joined them the vessel plunged to the bottom. I swam until a lifeboat rescued me. I was then taken on board the collier, where I received attention. Some of the other rescued people, however, were so exhausted that they died. Pluckily to leap from the deck to the water, swim half an hour, and then fall dead from exhaustion on board the Eureka, was the fate of an unidentified woman.


The Empress of Ireland is a twin screw steamer of 14,500 tons, and 18,000 horse power. Her length between perpendiculars is 550 feet. Her moulded breadth is 65 feet, while she has a depth of 40 feet moulded to the upper deck. The vessel is propelled by two sets of direct action quadruple expansion engines, and was capable of a speed of twenty knots. There are eight complete decks, the upper promenade being approximately 300 feet long, and the lower promenade extending clear of the stem.

The vessel contained many mew and interesting features. She is ventilated and heated by the Thermo tank system, changing air in every compartment once in ten minutes, thus avoiding bad odours and liability to sea-sickness, and has a playground provided for the third class children. Special attention has been paid to women and children, while the excellence of third class bath rooms and lavatory arrangements, of the smoke rooms and of the music saloons usually come as a surprise to passengers. She is fitted with submarine bell signal telephones to warn commanders against submarine dangers, and has a Marconi installation.

The Empress of Ireland left Liverpool for Quebec and Montreal on Friday, May 15, and she was on her return journey when the disaster occurred.


Tells a Dramatic Story.

Quebec, Saturday. -- The survivors unite in paying their tribute of appreciation to Dr. James F. Grant, the ship's surgeon, who calmed the terror-stricken, helped to preserve the hopes of the despairing, and comforted the bereaved. Dr. Grant was pulled from a port-hole, after the ship listed, and was thrown into the water. He swam towards, the Storstad, and was picked up by a small boat.

Dr. Grant tells the following graphic story of the disaster -- During the early morning the fog thickened, and the Empress proceeded slowly. At eight minutes to two the Storstad rammed us. The Norwegian lights had previously been sighted by the watch, who reported to the captain, who was on the bridge. Captain Kendall thereupon signalled three blasts upon the whistle. The collier answered, but I do not know what she replied. Then Captain Kendall signalled, "I am stopping," but the collier continued to approach.

Captain Kendall then ordered the engines to be reversed and full steam astern. It was, however, impossible to avoid the collision, and the Empress was rammed amidships, the engine-room being penetrated, and the starboard plates stripped clean off for an enormous length.

The collier back off and stood away about a mile. In a few moments the Empress took a heavy list to starboard, and never righted. It was quickly seen that the liner was doomed, and an attempt was made to launch the starboard boats. The first were thrown clear, but where overturned. Several port boats were thrown across the decks by the list, and several persons were crushed to death against the rail. Chief Officer Steele was killed by one of these boats. There was no disorder among the crew, and the captain and other officers stood at their posts until the vessel sank, which was only seventeen minutes after the time of the collision. Only a few passengers were able to obtain lifebelts, and nearly all were forced into the icy waters in their night attire. Hundreds clung to the sides of the ship until the last heave, and hundreds swam round and about her screaming for help.

The Storstad quickly launched her lifeboats, but they were all soon filled, and hundreds had to be left to die. Five of the Empress's boats got away.


The catastrophe was so sudden that scores of people had no chance to leave their berths, and were caught like rats in a trap. To add to the difficulty the passengers, you must remember, had only been one day on board, and were unfamiliar with their surroundings. In the confusion and panic many never found their way to the decks.

The survivors were taken off the Storstad by the Lady Evelyn, which had answered our wireless call, and were given every attention. Nevertheless, five died from shock and exposure, and four women expired through exhaustion.

I did not know anything of what was occurring until I was thrown out of my berth by the listing of the boat. I tried to turn on the lights, but the current had gone, and I could not find the door. I heard screams of terror and and the sound of rushing water. I managed to get out of the stateroom, but was unable to walk along the alley way. I scrambled along the side of the wall to a porthole, and got my head out.

I was astounded to find the side of the ship crowded with people standing as though they were on deck. I called out for help, and a bystander pulled me out throughout the port hole. The ship was soon pulled from under us and as we were going down the fog lifted, as if its purpose had been accomplished. I saw the collier's lights. I swam, about for a little, and then, a lifeboat picked me up.


Two girls, one aged about seven and the other about ten, went over the side of the Empress and reached safety. A third child was drowned, and the father of the three also perished. The younger girl who swam to my lifeboat refused to believe her father was dead and kept saying, "He will be in the next boat."

Another child who was rescued -- Helen O'Hara, daughter of a Toronto stockbroker, told her story as follows -- "When I woke up the boat was leaning way over and over. I had only time to put on a few clothes, when father carried me on deck. I do not know what became of mother. Father jumped, and I fell out of his arms into the water, which was awfully cold. I swam to and clung to a piece of wood. Afterwards I swam to a boat, and was overjoyed on reaching shore to find my mother safe."

This ends the doctor's narrative.

Estimates received here up to midnight give the total lost and missing as one thousand and ten. It is known that twenty-nine first cabin and twenty-five second cabin have been saved. The scene when the survivors reached here was most pathetic. Three hundred and ninety-six of the rescued were in the train, and many of them were injured. All were utterly bowed down with grief. Nearly all had lost a loved one. Many were clothed in misfitting attire, which had been furnished them when they reached Rimouski, and presented a pitiful sight. All who could speak were full of the tale of terror which followed the collision -- the panic, the confusion, and the darkness.


Heartrending Scenes.

Montreal, May 30. -- A message from Captain Belanger, of the Government steamer Eureka, which was the first to reach the scene of the disaster, says that he brought to Father Point fifty bodies and sixty survivors. He relates that when he was told of the disaster by the Marconi operator at Father Point, he immediately got his crew together and turned the Eureka towards where the Empress of Ireland had disappeared. He picked up several small boats, and lifted the men, women, and children from them into his own ship.

The survivors declared that everything had happened so quickly that they scarcely realised what had occurred. All they could say was that the ship had gone, and that there was not even time to cry "Women and children first." There were so few women and children saved, not because of any crowding in the lifeboats, but because the stewards had not sufficient time to awake the passengers. Those saved say they were tossed out of bed, and ran on deck, and had just time to get into lifeboats and pull away. Those who waited to dress or even waited to be called by the stewards were drowned. Hundreds must have been drowned in their sleep. The dead bodies were picked up by the Eureka's crew, who carried them to the stern, and laid them in the open, covering them with sheeting.

The survivors who snatched at clothing of any kind to protect themselves from the cold walked about in a frantic condition on the decks of the Eureka.

As soon as the Eureka had reached Father Point Wharf a call for doctors went out. The scene was pitiful in the extreme. Some of the survivors screamed that they must land at Father Point when they were told it would be better to proceed to Rimouski. A message was sent ahead to Mr. Webber, the Canadian Pacific agent, who had only left the Empress of Ireland at Rimouski a few hours before the disaster to prepare to receive the dead and the survivors.

The Eureka proceeded to the wharf at Rimouski, and one hour after she docked the Lady Evelyn steamed in sight. She carried twenty dead and eighty living. One hysterical survivor had to be held on board by two of the crew to prevent her from jumping overboard. She kept screaming in agony, "Leonard, my poor Leonard." She is believed to be the wife of Mr. Leonard Palmer, the well-known English journalist, who organised a party of British manufacturers who came to Canada two years ago. It is feared that, Mr. Palmer was drowned.


A Happy Reunion.

Montreal, Saturday. -- Few of those who came alive from that maelstrom of death off Rimouski had such stirring experiences as befell Mr. and Mrs. Thomas H. Greenaway, of the Salvation Army band. It was their honeymoon trip, the couple having been married in Toronto a week ago.

Mrs. Greenaway said -- We left our cabin in confusion. I lost my husband, but some friends put a life belt on me. When the steamer was nearly under I felt all was over. I began to pray for Divine help. The suction drew me deep down in the swirling black water. Then I seemed stunned by an explosion. When I regained consciousness I found myself lying across a deckchair in the water. I think the explosion must have blown me right out of the water. Two men on a raft pulled me aboard. One said, "Don't be afraid, little girl; my wife's gone." I answered, "I've lost my husband." He opened his coat and vest and drew me close and buttoned his coat around me. That kept me warm. I don't remember anything more until I found myself on board the collier. I have not seen those men since. I am afraid they went down.

Mr. Greenaway stated that he went back to get wraps for his wife, and on reaching the deck he could not find her. He concluded that she must be gone, and he decided to go down with the ship, "Grasping the rail firmly, down we went," said Mr. Greenaway. "Then came the explosion, and I came to the surface and clung to the leg of a table until a pilot boat picked me up. This morning I found my wife at the hotel, and we wept together for pure joy."

Mr. Lawrence Irving met his death bravely. When the collision occurred the actor and his wife rushed on deck. Mr. Irving took Mrs. Irving in his arms, but the next big wave swept both overboard, and they disappeared. their arms entwined, in the swirling waters.


We are officially informed that the Lord Mayor of London has decided to open a Mansion House fund for the relief of the widows and orphans and dependents of the crew and passengers of the ill-fated Empress of Ireland, as was done in the case of the Titanic disaster.

The Lord Mayor of Liverpool has opened a relief fund for the relatives of those who have perished in the Empress of Ireland disaster and for the assistance of survivors in urgent need. His lordship has subscribed £50, and the Lady Mayoress £25 to the fund.

Messrs. Joseph Bibby & Sons, seed crushers, have contributed £1,000 to the Lord Mayor of Liverpool's Empress of Ireland relief fund.

This article originally appeared in The Witness 2 June 1914.

image: The Empress of Ireland

Thursday, 29 May 2014

Some News of Newry in 1900

Opening of the New Post Office. 

IN last year's OPEN WINDOW we recorded the laying of the foundation stone of this building. This year we have to record its completion and the opening of the Offices for public business on March 24th. The building is an ornament to our town and with its finely chiselled granite front considerably enhances the appearance of Hill Street. The site is that where lately Mr. Peter Corcoran (now of North Street) had his shop and residence.  Formerly it was occupied by Mr. Byrne, Leather Manufacturer, and in still earlier years it was the private residence and tan yard of the late Mr. Peter Murphy -- afterwards of Marcus Square -- father of our present well-known townsman, Mr. Patrick Murphy. Full particulars re plan, dimensions, etc., relating to the Offices were given in THE OPEN WINDOW for 1898, as also photographs of the site before the new building was commenced, and after building operations were completed.

Improvements and Changes.

THE past year has not abounded in improvements. In this it has been unlike its three predecessors. It has, indeed, been full of rumoured changes, and profound interest has been stirred by the recently-projected Public Harbour Trust -- a scheme which offers a curious complication of problems. (As we go to Press it has been announced that the representatives of the ratepayers have offered the Navigation Co. (provisionally) £20 per share for their interest This may seem a very exorbitant price, but those who are conversant with the whole scheme and its possibilities are, no doubt, justified. It must not be lost sight of that one of the possibilities is "deep water" -- eventually, and that Newry's salvation hangs thereby.) Much has been heard of railway schemes, and the industrial development of our town has proved itself a subject of earnest consideration, and a vigorous movement for the establishment of a Technical School for Newry is likely to be put in motion and successfully carried through.

Although there have not been many structural improvements, it must not be supposed that our building firms (whose activities are so allied to the welfare of trade in general) have been idle. Mr. Alex. Wheelan's chief contracts during the year have been in other parts of the country, for his firm competes successfully with the large contractors of Dublin and Belfast. He has completed the new Post Office in Armagh, -- which is built after the style of our Newry office, only with a brick front, -- and he is at present engaged on an extensive contract at the Military Barracks in the same town, while his present Government contracts include work in Mullingar, Longford, Lusk (Co. Dublin), Monaghan, and Dungannon, and a very large one has just been finished at the Curragh Camp. Newry work has, however, not been altogether omitted on this firm's list. The Post Office has been finished (see page 88), and Mr. Wheelan having purchased the property adjoining it (formerly O'Rorke's millinery warerooms, and prior to that Mangan's outfitting shop), which consisted of an ancient-looking 1-storey structure, has erected a very handsome, modern 3-storey building in its place, which consists of shop and dwelling-house, and separate offices. Mr. Wheelan's local work also includes extensive repairs at the Military Barracks, a new system of drainage to the Custom House, and several minor matters. We must also note that he built a fine Bungalow at Carlingford for John Carvill, Esq. This is, we believe, one of the prettiest residences on either side of this picturesque bay.

Important local contracts have been carried out by Mr. Denis Neary's firm. On another page (89) we refer to the Erskine Street houses, and the new road and footways. Extensive contracts have been carried through during the year in the Convents, and "The Home" has been completed by the erection on the grounds of a massive granite wall. Mr. Neary's chief undertaking, however, is the building of 12 very handsome private houses on the Dublin Road. The site is an ideal one, and the houses are being built on the most up-to-date and approved lines. Every modern improvement and scientific sanitary arrangement will be provided. They will be built in groups of four, 3-storey, with bay and dormer windows. There is no doubt this terrace of houses will help to supply a pressing want in Newry -- viz., handsome private residences with every convenience, at a rent of about £40; and Mr. Neary is to be congratulated on his spirit of enterprise.

Mr. Mahood's firm still devotes its energies to work out of Newry, but the contracts carried on through the districts keep the Newry staff constantly employed; while the building and contracting firm of Mr. James Hughes has been constantly employed, and maintained its reputation for first-rate work.

In Hill Street a notable improvement is the renovation and re-decorating -- inside and out -- of The Imperial Hotel, Marcus Square, which has become the property of THE VICTORIA HOTEL CO., LTD. These improvements were carried out by the two well-known firms -- Mr. John Thompson (painter) and Mr. M. Smith (plumber and gasfitter). The change effected in the Hill Street portion of "Walker's" Mill-offices is most conspicuous. These spacious premises were taken early in the year by Mr. JOSEPH WRIGHT, and re-modelled and fitted, to suit his extensive printing, stationery, and cycle trades.

The firm of M. Ward & Sons have had their premises newly done-up and fitted with a particularly brilliant incandescent gas service. The appearance of the premises, indeed, is one of the best advertisements as to the style and character of this firm's work. Ecclesiastical painting and decoration form a special feature of the Messrs. Ward's trade, and quite a number of church contracts have been undertaken, including the Dominican Church and the Pro-Cathedral, Newry, as well as several in other towns and districts. The glass-work panelling and decoration on Mr. Charles O'Hagan's Medical Hall was also done by Ward & Sons, and they have been engaged in a great many other contracts of importance during the year.

In a former number of THE OPEN WINDOW we gave particulars of the opening of the Frontier Mineral Water Works by Messrs. John O'Hare & Sons, and prophesied that this firm was bidding for marked success; this has now been realized. The firm has brought to Newry from the Brewers' Exhibition in London (1900) a prize for the "excellence and quality of their mineral waters." The competition was "open to the world," and this is the only Irish firm entitled to the honour.

Messrs. Sampson & Co., commission agents, have added another agency to their already extensive list -- one for Greer's famous O.V.H. Whiskey. This brand enjoys a unique reputation amongst connoisseurs, and is rapidly gaining popularity in the market.

Among the changes of the year may be noted the removal of Mr. James Hendren, bootmaker, from 33 Hill Street to 104. Mr. Hendren intends to devote special attention to the ready-made trade, in order to bring his business in this department up to the same high-class standard as that distinguishing the "made-to-measure" department of his firm. The opening of millinery warerooms in the upper part of Messrs. Connor & Sons' branch establishment, 19 Hill Street, by The Misses White, should also be mentioned.

A new Pillar Letter-box has been placed at the Car-stand, Hill Street, opposite Messrs. James Warnock & Co.'s.

In the Pro-Cathedral two handsome stained-glass windows have been erected; one the gift of Mrs. S. Toman (Rathfriland), the other by the Confraternity of the Sacred Heart. Both are fine specimens of artistic beauty and workmanship.

Erskine Street Houses.

ON Wednesday, 19th of September last (1900), these houses were formally taken possession of, on behalf of the town, by Dr. M'CARTAN, J.P., Chairman of the N.U.C. The houses, 21 in number, are built on the new thoroughfare (an off-shoot of Canal Street), entitled Erskine Street. They fill a want much felt on that side of the town, and will be available for the military, who have always made the want of house accommodation a source of complaint. In event of the Army authorities not availing themselves of the houses, the artizans of our town will be only too glad to become tenants. As reported in THE OPEN WINDOW of last year, the Council borrowed from Government £5,000* at 3½ per cent., repayable in 50 years, and the tender of Mr. DENIS NEARY, builder, to complete the houses for £4,800, was accepted. His contract has been carried out most successfully. The houses are a credit to their builder. They are of red brick, two storey high, neat in style, well-lighted and well-placed. The town is certainly to be congratulated on having a Council in power who put the ground at disposal to such excellent use. The weekly rents fixed are as follows:-- 7 houses at 6/6 each, 1 at 5/6, and 13 at 5/- each. Mr. W. J. Watson was the architect. Mr. Neary also tendered successfully for making the foot and roadways to these houses, and the work is almost completed.

* By a misprint, the sum appears there as £2,000, instead of £5,000.

This article was originally published in "The Open Window Illustrated - Literary Annual and Year Book of Local Annals" in 1900 which was centred on the Newry area. 

Thursday, 22 May 2014

An Historic Tale: A Faithful Steed and a Devoted Wife.

T.O.W. Special -- Old Newry Series.
(From a photo by Mr. J. E. Connor).
In the great Volunteer movement of last century Newry played an important part, and to the Society of United Irishmen, founded in Belfast in 1791, Newry also contributed her contingent. In this connection we find it recorded that on the "28th of May, 1797, the following persons from Newry were brought to Belfast in a coach-and-four, escorted by a detachment of the 22nd Light Dragoons, viz.:-- Messrs. John Gordon, David Lawson, Isaac Glenny, Thomas Morris, Luke Babe and John Walker. Mr. Glenny has since, we hear, been admitted to bail, and Mr. Gordon expects also to be liberated upon the same terms." Four days later we are informed by a Belfast correspondent that, "since our last the following prisoners have been brought into the Artillery Guard-room, viz.:-- Peter Leacy, William Reilly, James Jones, Robert Brown, and Robert Maxwell, from Newry; and Hugh M'Evoy, Edward Fagan, Matthew Savage, Laurence M'Evoy, and Stephen Byrne, from Sheepbridge -- all charged with seditious practices." Immediately upon his arrest, the wife of Mr. John Gordon, well knowing the summary manner in which justice was administered in those troublesome times, and being ardently devoted to her husband, at once mounted her horse and started in pursuit of the escort which brought him and his fellow-prisoners to Belfast. There, we are told, she arrived close upon their heels, never having drawn rein, nor partaken of refreshment, from the moment she left her residence at Templegowran till she arrived in Belfast, where she immediately took steps, which proved successful, for the vindication and release of her husband. With the poor steed, however, it fared very differently -- next morning he was found a corpse. The memory of such a faithful servant was not, however, destined to perish. Mrs. Gordon shortly afterwards returned to Templegowran, accompanied by her husband and the tail of her gallant steed. Mr. Gordon remained at Templegowran up to his death, at the age of 84 years, on the 22nd March, 1833. Anne Gordon, his widow, survived him, and died in July, 1840, aged 80. As for the "tail," it has, so far as we can ascertain, been faithfully preserved at Templegowran up to the 14th of December, 1898, when it was presented to me by Mr. R. Cooper, the present occupier of the interesting old spot.

Francis C. Crossle. 

[We present our readers with a photo, of this historic tail. Dr. Crossle has had it placed in a neat frame, and the record of the event printed that it may be read through the glass, and will present it to the Town Commissioners for preservation in the Board-room of the New Town Hall. The tail is in an excellent state of preservation, and bound at the top with a fine leather band. It was a gallant ride. Templegowran lies east of Newry, about two miles, and Mrs. Gordon, who was then about 37 years of age, had to cover 32 Irish miles without halting for a single moment.] 

This article was originally published in "The Open Window Illustrated - Literary Annual and Year Book of Local Annals" in 1900 which was centred on the Newry area.