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HMS Titanic

By Halifax Expert: Andy, USA, March 2012

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The year 2012 marks the 100th anniversary of the infamous sinking of the ill-fated HMS Titanic. And the historic city of Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada has a particular connection. The ocean liner left Southampton, England on April 10, 1912 intending to arrive in New York City on five days later. As we now all know too well, in the late evening of April 11th, it encountered an icefield in the north Atlantic. (Icebergs are quite common in the north Atlantic shipping lanes at that time of the year.) And in early hours of April 12th, that grand ship sank off the coast of Newfoundland (another Canadian province northeast of Nova Scotia).

The owners of the Titanic, the White Star Lines, had offices in St. John's Newfoundland (the closest port to the site of the tragedy). However, ice in the harbour of St. john's, Newfoundland prevented any recovery ships from leaving that port. So, the White Star Lines had to call on ships in Halifax, the next closest port city, where they also had offices. (Halifax is roughly 500 kilometres from where the Titanic sank.)

And because of that, the historic city of Halifax is the resting place of 150 Titanic victims who lay buried in three different cemeteries. Twenty one victims were buried in Halifax Roman Catholic Mt. Olivet Cemetery. And there are ten victims at the Jewish Baron de Hirsch Cemetery. But, Halifax's Fairview Cemetery (in the city's north end) is the most visited site. Here, 120 victims (both passengers and crew members lay buried in four rows. Among the many victims buried there are; John Dawson (the lead character in James Cameron's movie, Jack Dawson, was modeled on this 19 year old Southampton resident), Luigi Gatti, the manager of the Titanic first class restaurant and many others. And there are many other compelling stories of the passengers and crew buried there.

In April specifically and throughout the year, Halifax will mark its tragic connection with many related activities; talks, dinners, tours and the like.

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