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RMS Titanic

story Maureen Scott ABOVE RMS Titanic departing Southampton
April 10, 1912

 

When James Cameron’s film Titanic returns to theatres on April 4 in 3D, it will commemorate the 100th Anniversary of the sinking of the world’s most famous ship - RMS Titanic. The official date is Sunday April 15, 2012.

Events are planned in Belfast (where the Titanic was built), in Southampton, England (where she set sail on her maiden voyage) and in Halifax (where many Titanic victims are buried). There will be a real-time re-enactment of the wireless messages sent from the site of the sinking to Cape Race, Newfoundland. The world can tune in via internet.

Considered unsinkable, the RMS Titanic set out for New York on April 10, 1912. Four days later, at 11; 40 p.m. the Titanic hit an iceberg, 590 miles off the coast of Newfoundland and sank in the icy waters of the Atlantic at 2:20 a.m.

Of the 2,208 passengers and crew on board 1,503 lives were lost. The rescue ship Carpathia recovered 712 passengers from the lifeboats. Since Halifax was the closest major port, two cable ships and a lighthouse supply boat were dispatched to aid in the gruelling task of recovery. Halifax has several Titanic sites including the Fairview Lawn Cemetery where over 100 victims are buried.
Bow of the Titanic
The famous bow of the Titanic at 12,600 feet (2.33 miles down).
The ship’s location was unknown until Dr. Robert Ballard
and a team of scientists found her in 1985.


 
Deck Chair from the Titanic
A deck chair is preserved behind glass at the
Maritime Museum of the Atlantic in Halifax, Nova Scotia


There are many events and exhibits to mark the anniversary. Nova Scotia Archives has a virtual Titanic exhibit. From April to June, The Maritime Museum of the Atlantic will showcase Cable Ships: Connecting Halifax to Titanic and the World. Titanic 100, a group dedicated to the preservation of Titanic history, will host a film festival and “A Wake and Commemoration” - details at www.titanic100.ca/.

For updates on Titanic events visit www.novascotia.com/titanic or www.destinationhalifax.com/titanic. In Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, The Bedford Institute of Oceanography offers an exhibit narrated by Bio geophysicist Steve Blasco, who served as the chief scientist on the joint Canada, U.S. and Russian expedition for the IMAX film Titanica.

Cape Race near St. John’s, Newfoundland was the closest land point to the Titanic, where the Marconi station received messages from Titanic passengers, including the distress call. “Cape Race was the communication hub, the 911 of the day,” explains Larry Daley, (nicknamed “The Titanic Guy” because he was the Canadian logistics specialist on the 3D film Ghosts of the Abyss) and is also the Co-Director of Receiving Titanic, a non profit volunteer group organizing commemorative events. “On April 14 and 15, we will feature a real-time account using the same wireless messages sent from the Titanic to Cape Race, which will be carried live on television and via internet to the world. James Cameron, is our Ambassador for the Cape Race events and he will do a live call-in that night.”

 The messages will be sent from the Titanic site by the MS Balmoral, which is hosting the sold out 12-day Titanic 100th Anniversary Memorial Cruise from Southampton, England. With 1,309 paying passengers on board (the exact number that boarded the Titanic), The Balmoral will follow the same route, stopping where the wreck lies for a memorial service at 2:20 a.m. on April 15. The Balmoral will be met there by the Azamara Journey from New York with passengers travelling on the Titanic 100th Anniversary Cruise. At press time, the cruise was almost sold out with prices ranging from $4,900 to $14,850 USD per person, based on double occupancy.



 
Larry Daley’s company Titanic Expeditions Newfoundland offers The Ultimate Titanic Exploration Tour which includes a helicopter tour over Iceberg Alley and a dive in a 3-person submarine to the Titanic wreck, at a cost of “about $100,000 per person” (titanicexpeditions.com).

Kensington Tours/Horizon & Company have a15-day Cruise aboard a real expedition vessel with a submersible craft to take passengers on a two-and-a half-mile descent to the wreck of the Titanic. Despite the price tag of $66, 257 USD per person for submarine riders, Senior Sales Consultant Olivia Pazkowski of Toronto says most of their scheduled cruise/dive dates in July and August are already sold out.

“People who book this expedition are bucket list-ers, one hundred percent,” says Olivia. “This is for the person who wants to do everything once, or for someone who has lost an ancestor on the Titanic, for extreme divers or history buffs. This is not a luxury trip. This is an expedition ship with an educational element. Yes, we have book-ended the expedition with good food and events, but this is all about the once-in-a-lifetime experience.” For information, visit www.kensingtontours.com or www.horizon-co.com.

Closer to home, members of The Canadian Titanic Society (www.canadian-titanic-society.com) in Simcoe, Ontario are planning events to commemorate the anniversary, including showing off their 20-foot model/float replica of the Titanic. One event posted on their website is The Titanic 100th Anniversary Voyage on Saturday April 14 at the new Dunnville Arena, presented by Haldimand Art Works. Each “passenger” (costumes encouraged) will receive a boarding pass and new identity and documentation providing them with information as to their final outcome. The RMS Titanic Second Class Dinner is included and passengers can have their photo taken on the Grand Staircase with “Captain Smith.”

If anyone is an expert on Titanic passengers, it is renowned, award-winning Canadian author Hugh Brewster who has written several books on the Titanic including Inside the Titanic, 882 Amazing Answers to Your Questions About the Titanic, I Am Canada, Deadly Voyage and his new release RMS Titanic: Gilded Lives on a Fatal Voyage. Brewster was the editorial director and publisher of Madison Press Books, where he was responsible for the bestselling Titanic books, Ballard’s The Discovery of the Titanic and Titanic: an Illustrated History.

Gilded Lives (Harper Collins) gives us a rare look into the lives of the rich and famous on board, including colourful characters like Margaret Brown (The Unsinkable Molly Brown), millionaire John Jacob Astor and his teenage wife, and Major Archibald Butt (a military aide at the White House). “Harry Molson, of the Molson brewing family was seen taking off his socks and shoes and was said to have tried to swim, but likely succumbed to hypothermia,” says Hugh. “One of my favourite passengers was Lady Duff Gordon, the world’s most famous couturiere who pioneered sexy lingerie. She and her sister, novelist Eilnor Glyn, grew up in Guelph and their home, Summerhill, still stands today.”

 Hugh says Titanic mania is going to hit a fevered pitch. He mentions the Titanic exhibits in Las Vegas, Branson, Missouri and in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. Hugh will be the guest speaker at the Titanic Memorial Convention hosted by The Titanic Historical Society and Museum in Massachusetts. He will soon embark on a speaking tour sharing his expertise of Titanic history and on July 14th he will present Unsinkable! The Titanic in Words, Music and Song at the Elora Festival.

However, on the eve of the 100th anniversary, Hugh will listen to the live internet re-enactment, broadcast via submarine, and bow his head in remembrance of those who lost their lives on April 15, 1912.  GL



Hugh Brewster
RMS Titanic
Gilded Lives On A Fatal Voyage
by Hugh Brewster,
published by Collins Canada

It will be available March 20, 2012