Spend a few hours with the experts at Halifax Tour Guys, and you’ll discover everything there is related to the Titanic disaster found locally in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Off our most recent Holland America Line cruise to Canada/New England onboard the Veendam, we decided to further explore the Titanic story in the historic port-of-call.
To this day, little else captivates the imagination of cruise passengers quite like the “unsinkable” ship that sank – White Star Line’s then fresh from the shipyard Titanic. After all, modern cruisers have robust safety regulations that emerged as a result of the ship’s demise to be grateful for. Titanic left from Southampton for New York, but her story inevitably ended in Halifax instead.
As an established maritime community, Halifax had the infrastructure necessary to carry out the macabre recovery of the bodies left behind from the disaster. One such passenger hoped to be among those was George Wright, a prominent Haligonian businessman, but his body was never found. His former residence, however, is still situated among other Georgian and Victorian style homes from the time.
Returning to Canada for her wedding, 2nd class passenger Hilda Slayter blessedly survived and, in fact, the home where she was born remains to this day as St. Paul’s parish offices. Curiously, her former house sits immediately adjacent to The Five Fishermen Restaurant, once Snow’s Funeral Home, put in charge of many of the recovered bodies.
Services for the deceased were performed at various local churches of different religions and denominations, and the majority of the bodies were then buried locally across three cemeteries – a Catholic one, Jewish one, and non-denominational one. The latter, Fairview Lawn Cemetery alone is the resting place of 121 victims, including unknown ones since named thanks to improved deduction and new DNA evidence.
The lives lost will forever remind future generations of the human magnitude of the disaster, but wreck-wood recovered from the Titanic soon after her sinking will continue to highlight the grandeur that the ship itself once was. Sure, there have been plenty of artifacts recovered from the wreck since her rusting hulk was discovered in 1985.
However, fragile relics, like a fully intact deck chair and first class bathroom cabinet displayed at the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic, convey what the ocean liner was actually like in 1912. Like a watch frozen in time, these artifacts paint a picture of life onboard like none other.
The most impressive piece is an expansive hand-carved wooden panel that once crowned a first class lounge doorway. Upon close inspection, original carpenter marks and a beautiful varnished surface preserve the ship’s memory, while only ragged edges, fractured seams and recessed mounting holes tell the story of a remnant likely torn from the ship as it violently broke apart on the ocean surface.
Of course, Halifax, Nova Scotia offers far more than just Titanic history. However, it’s certainly one of the most fascinating aspects of this port that is worthy of your time, and the Halifax Tour Guys will provide a wonderful excursion no matter what your focus is in the Canadian city.
For more information on the Veendam, visit Holland America Line‘s website here.
HEADER IMAGE SOURCE: JASON LEPPERT