On May 28th & 29th, 2014 Lt. Colonels Larry and Velma Martin were in Victoria, BC to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Empress of Ireland.
The Empress of Ireland was an ocean liner that was struck by the Norwegian collier SS Storstad on May 29th, 1914. She sunk in just 14 minutes in the Saint Lawrence River and of the 1,477 passengers on board, 1,012 died, including approximately 150+ members of The Salvation Army in Canada, the entire leadership contingent and all but 12 of the Canadian Staff Band perished in what is known as Canada’s worst Maritime disaster.
On Wednesday, May 28th, a dinner was coordinated to commemorate the last dinner served and to recreate the atmosphere on the last voyage. Approximately 65 people enjoyed an intimate evening of Empress of Ireland memories. In attendance were descendants from survivors of the sinking, divers who have visited the wreckage site, collectors and Empress of Ireland enthusiasts.
Lt. Col. Larry Martin offered Grace, spoke about the loss The Salvation Army felt and presided over the closing moments of the event which included a moment of silence to remember the lost. A brass band ensemble from Victoria Citadel performed hymn tunes for attending guests, songs that would have been played on the ship.
On Thursday, May 29th, The Maritime Museum officially opened their new exhibit, Canada’s Titanic – The Empress of Ireland. Opening ceremonies included a performance by Victoria Citadel’s brass band ensemble, some commemorative speeches and the unveiling of two Canada Post stamps. Lt Col. Larry Martin offered greetings at the Maritime Museum’s opening on behalf of The Salvation Army.
Canada’s Titanic – The Empress of Ireland runs until October 20, 2014.
The Empress of Ireland sinking is an important part history for both Canada and The Salvation Army – we are honoured to have been part of these events to remember those we lost.