Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Rare Titanic passenger list at Royal BC Museum

The Royal BC Museum’s Titanic: The Artifact Exhibition is two artifacts richer today. Bowen Island's Don Marshall, 76, whose mother and grandmother survived the sinking of the Titanic, searched his home for the items this spring after the museum put out a call for BC connections to the ship and its passengers.
On July 4, Marshall presented the museum a pair of family treasures – a second-class passenger list and an essay titled A Personal Experience on the Titanic, written by his mother in 1914. The conservators of the museum installed the valuable items in a display case in the BC Connections Gallery.

“I and my family have chosen to loan these artifacts to the museum's exhibit because we believe that our mother would have wanted this,” said the retired dentist. “She was proud of the fact that she and her mother had survived the sinking of the Titanic and participated in many interviews over her lifetime.”

In 1912, Elizabeth (“Bessie”) Watt and her 12-year-old daughter Bertha were aboard the Titanic, en route from Scotland to Oregon to join Mr. James Watt, when the ship struck the iceberg that sent it to the ocean floor. Mother and daughter escaped in Lifeboat 9 with only the clothes on their backs – the second-class passenger list happened to be in the pocket of Bessie’s overcoat.

Two years later, Bertha (Marshall’s mother) wrote an essay about her ordeal for her high school yearbook. “About 2 o’clock, we heard the boilers burst and then (the ship) broke in two and slid into the water, leaving nothing to be seen,” she wrote. “We were then left entirely alone in the dark, except for the stars.”

Last week, a first-class passenger list sold at a Christie’s New York auction for $48,000 US. An eight-page, handwritten description of the sinking by a 16-year-old survivor earned $16,800 US at the same auction.

Created by Atlanta-based Premier Exhibitions Inc., Titanic: The Artifact Exhibition features 281 artifacts recovered from Titanic’s undersea resting place in a series of galleries that trace the life of the “unsinkable” ship. RMS Titanic Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Premier Exhibitions Inc., is the only company in the world authorized to recover artifacts from the Titanic wreck site.
Titanic: The Artifact Exhibition
will be at the Royal BC Museum in Victoria until Oct. 14, 2007.