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Media Release
November 17, 2015
Halifax, NS

Canada’s Titanic – The Empress of Ireland

Discover the story of one of Canada’s greatest maritime disasters

Over one hundred years after the sinking of the Empress of Ireland, the Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21 presents a dramatic exhibition that will take visitors to the heart of one the greatest maritime disasters in Canada’s history. Artifacts from this once-splendid ocean liner, historical documents and eyewitness accounts will help bring to life stories of loss and rescue, despair and bravery. As well, visitors will learn the storied history of the Empress of Ireland including the role it played in immigration and the development of Canada.

Considered one of the finest ships in the Canadian Pacific Railway fleet, the Empress of Ireland carried over one hundred thousand immigrants to Canada in the early years of the 20th century. But in the early morning of May 29, 1914, on the fog-bound St. Lawrence River, the Empress was hit broadside by a coal ship, the Storstad. The ocean liner went down in less than 15 minutes. More than a thousand people lost their lives.

An adapted version of a major exhibition first developed by, and presented at the Canadian Museum of History, Canada’s Titanic – The Empress of Ireland will be shown at the Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21 in the Ralph and Rose Chiodo Gallery from November 23, 2015 to November 13, 2016. Entrance to Canada’s Titanic – The Empress of Ireland will be included in regular Museum admission prices.

An exhibition created by the Canadian Museum of History and co-presented by the Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21.

Quick Facts

  • The public opening reception for Canada’s Titanic – The Empress of Ireland will be held on November 25, 2015 at 6 p.m. where the Museum’s CEO, Marie Chapman and Curator, Dan Conlin, as well as the Canadian Museum of History’s Director General, Jean-Marc Blais will be speaking.
  • Canada’s Titanic – The Empress of Ireland features 81 rare objects from the wreck including the massive ship’s bell, whose clear tone could serve as a navigation signal in dense fog; a porthole shattered in the sinking; the ship’s wheel that steered into disaster that fateful morning; as well as a newly discovered object, pyjamas, worn by passenger John Langley as he crawled out of a porthole to survive the sinking.
  • Interpretive programing will engage visitors further by allowing them to create their own colourful propaganda posters as well as digitally explore the emotional stories of a few of the passengers onboard

Quotes

“We are proud to co-present an adapted version of this remarkable exhibition with the Canadian Museum of History. The tragic story of the Empress of Ireland provides an important window into Canada’s early 20th century immigration and emigration story. We are looking forward to welcoming all visitors to discover this largely forgotten historical event as well as to understand the history of transatlantic passenger and trade travel, and its role in developing our nation.”

- Marie Chapman, CEO of the Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21

“We are very happy that Halifax—with its long and strong maritime history—is hosting the exhibition. We are equally pleased that the exhibition was developed with the support and expertise of Pier 21. It is very fitting that this exhibition be presented in a museum that explores the theme of immigration to Canada. This theme is central to the story of The Empress of Ireland and the Empress played a significant role in Canada’s immigration history.”

- Jean-Marc Blais, Director General of the Canadian Museum of History

Media Contacts

Stéphanie Comeau
Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21
(902) 425-7770 ext. 264
scomeau@pier21.ca

Cailin MacDonald
Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21
(902) 425-7770 ext. 228
cmacdonald@pier21.ca