Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Halifax honors100th anniversary of Titanic sinking

When I went on my Great Big Canadian Train Adventure in 2009, I traveled aboard VIA Rail from Halifax to Vancouver. And although I visited Pier 21, the Canadian Museum of Immigration, I missed the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic. Located on the Halifax waterfront, the museum is commemorating the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the RMS Titanic, which is being acknowledged around the world on April 15, 2012.

On the Titanic's maiden voyage from Southampton, England she hit an iceberg in the North Atlantic on the night of April 14, 1912. Less than three hours later, the ship was lying at the bottom of the ocean. A total of 1,518 people lost their lives out of the 2,228 passengers and crew on board. Shortly after the Titanic sank, White Star Line ordered cable ships based in Halifax to begin recovery of the bodies of the victims. Of the 209 bodies brought back to Halifax, 150 were put to rest at the city's three local cemeteries:
  • Fairview Lawn Cemetery - Corner of Windsor and Kempt Road
  • Baron de Hirsch Cemetery - Located in the Fairview Lawn Cemetery
  • Mount Olivet Cemetery - Mumford Road near entrance opposite of Mayfield Street
The Martime of the Pacific's permanent exhibit, Titanic: The Unsinkable Ship and Halifax, includes the largest collection of wooden Titanic artifacts in the world. From April 12-Oct. 31, visitors will also be able to discover the role that Halifax cable ships and their crews played in the Titanic recovery effort via the cable ship exhibit at the museum. Diaries of crew members and mementos from their experiences will be on display. Other exhibits, programs and special events at the museum include:
  • An Earnest Price | 150 Grave Stories: Opens April 3 and displays the 150 tombstones in a haunting installation by photographer Andrew Danson Danuskevsky, who has gathered the Titanic victims buried in Halifax together in an artistic manner.
  • Cable Ships | Connecting Halifax to Titanic and the World: Opens April 12 and focuses on the Halifax connection to the Titanic and how wireless communications played a significant role in the science and technology of the times.
  • The Gathering: Saturday, April 14, 7:30-9:30 PM. Hosted by actor George Jordan, this free public event at the waterfront side of the museum honors Halifax's role in the recovery operation. A candle-lit procession will wend its way from the museum to join the Titanic Eve - Night of the Bells event in the Grand Parade Square.
  • Titanic Eve - Night of the Bells: Saturday, April 14, 9:30 PM to 12:30 AM at the Grand Parade Square. Hosted by Canadian icon Gordon Pinsent, the free event includes interpretive presentations and live performances. A moment of silence will be held at 12:27 AM when the last wireless messages were received from the Titanic (the Cape Race Wireless station logged message times in Eastern Standard Time, an hour earlier than Atlantic Time). Flares will be ignited to symbolize the ship's call for help.
  • Titanic Spiritual Ceremony: Sunday, April 15, 3-4:30 PM at Fairview Lawn Cemetery. A free, public, interfaith memorial service in remembrance of the lives lost and of the 121 Titanic victims buried at the cemetery.
Elsewhere in and around Halifax are events at the Bedford Institute of Oceanography in Dartmouth. Visitors will be able to view an exhibit that portrays what the Titanic looks like today as it lies on the ocean floor. A Titanic 100 Year Experience Tour will be offered twice daily by Ambassatours from June 1-October 15. Tickets for the 75-minute bus tour are $28.

Photo of the RMS Titanic courtesy RMS Titanic, Inc.

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