Friday, May 30, 2014

the Forgotten Empress

The Empress of Ireland is often called ‘The Forgotten Empress’. The sinking of the Titanic two years earlier was given a great amount of attention and soon after the Empress of Ireland sank the headlines moved on to WWI which broke out a few weeks later in July, 1914
The 167-metre-long Empress, which left Quebec City for Liverpool on May 28, 1914, had dropped off a river pilot and turned northeast toward the Gulf of St. Lawrence.  The ship that collided with it, The Storstad, a 6,000-tonne Norwegian freighter loaded with 11,000 tonnes of coal, was headed for Montreal, cruising full speed toward shore to pick up a pilot.
Fog was to blame, as was the confusion of the fog horns and signals.
After the collier smashed into its hull, the Empress listed and sank in only 14 minutes.  
Only a few lifeboats could be launched and most of the people travelling below deck in third class were thought to have drowned in their bunks. Among the dead were approximately 150 members of The Salvation Army in Canada, including the entire leadership contingent and all but twelve of the Canadian Staff Band, who were headed to England for an international conference.  Every year, on the Sunday closest to the 29th of May, at the memorial to the Empress of Ireland in Mount Pleasant Cemetery in Toronto, there is a service of remembrance.

There is an excellent infographic chronology, with more photos here
There was a loss of 1,012 lives out of 1,477 on board the Empress. By comparison the Titanic, lost more people than the Empress but less passengers. The Empress lost 840 passengers compared to 807 from the Titanic.

and as a bonus, here are the two stamps (which stand very well with the 2012 Titanic stamps )


  1. I don't believe I had ever heard of the Empress of Ireland before...what a sad story.

    1. It has been on the news this week because of the anniversary. I remember finding a book on Canadian shipwrecks whern I was younger and being fascinated by these stories. And so pleased that my mother wasn't on any of them!

  2. I had never heard of the ship either but I can only imagine the news of war eclipsed the news of the sinking.

  3. I, also, had never heard of the ship sinking. How horrible that would be. Thank you for the information and the pictures of the unfortunate ship. So much is known about the Titani and both were horrendous events.

  4. This is fascinating. So much emphasis has been placed on the Titanic, and other losses such as this, have been forgotten. I was always interested in the Titanic, but this sounds as tragic. What dreadful desths


Glad you stopped by. For anyone who stumbled here, don't be shy to say 'hi' and let me know you've visited!