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Titanic centennial

Canadians share Titanic tales: valour, duty, heartbreak and serendipity Add to ...

Kenneth Capstick, Belleville, Ont.

My grandfather, William Livington, worked on the cable ship Mackay-Bennett which retrieved some of the bodies of the Titanic and brought them to Halifax. It had quite an impact on him. He talked about how calm the sea was and how eerie it was to see all the bodies and objects from the ship just floating around. My grandmother also had a deck chair from Titanic on her verandah for many years when they lived in Halifax, although I’m not sure what exactly happened to it now.

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Heather Graham, Toronto, Ont

My great grandmother’s brother Hudson J.C. Allison, his wife Bess and their children Lorraine, just shy of 3 years old, and Hudson Trevor, 11 months, were all aboard the Titanic as first class passengers. He lived in Canada, working in Montreal as a junior member of brokerage firm, but had sailed to England for business. Like many others, they had altered travel plans to instead sail back on the Titanic. After the Titanic struck the iceberg, Bess was unwilling to get into a lifeboat because she couldn’t find her son. Unbeknownst to the family, Hudson Trevor was already on a lifeboat with his nurse, Alice Cleaver. By the time the rest of the family realized it, there were no lifeboats left for them. Hudson Trevor survived, but the rest of the family perished, and only Mr. Allison’s body was recovered. Of the 29 children in first class, all were saved except for Lorraine. In memory of our relative Hudson J.C. Allison, we named our eight-month-old son Hudson.

wedding photo of Hudson J.C. Allison and his wife Bess with coins found in his suit. Together with their children Lorraine and Hudson Trevor were all aboard the Titanic as first class passengers. He lived in Canada but had sailed to England for business. Like many others, they had altered travel plans to sail back with on the Titanic. After the Titanic struck the iceberg, Bess was unwilling to get into a lifeboat because she couldn't find her son Hudson Trevor. Unbeknownst to the family, Hudson Trevor was already on a lifeboat with his nurse Alice Cleaver. By the time, the family realized it, there were no lifeboats left for them. All three perished, and only Hudson Allison's body was recovered.



Keri Lambert, Stow, Ohio but originally from London, Ont.

My granny's uncle was Reginald Lee, one of the lookouts who was on the crow’s nest on the Titanic and spotted the iceberg. He was asked to get in one of the first lifeboats, but refused because he still wanted to help more people. So he finally got aboard captain lifeboat 13 and survived the sinking. He later testified at the inquiry about the sinking. I now have a four-year-old son Reginald (Reggie) Lee Lambert named in his honour.

Helen Sanderson, Toronto, Ont.

My grandfather Anthony (Artie) Wood Frost was selected by Harland and Wolff, the company that built the Titanic in Belfast, to be one of the nine individuals on the Guarantee Group of the Titanic. These men were to record and report on the performance of the ship’s maiden voyage. He was an engineer fitter and worked closely with the Titanic crew to familiarize them with their newly bought ship. At the time of the disaster he was last seen heading down the steps of the engine room. There were no survivors of the Guarantee Group, as they would have considered it to be their duty to remain with their ship. My grandfather left behind his wife and four children in Belfast. The thing that’s sad is that serving on the Titanic was considered such a honour and the jobs were given only to the best young men with bright futures with the company. Anyway, the widows were given a very compensation after the disaster, so my grandmother opened a bed and breakfast and I moved to Canada in the 1970s. I still have a rivet from the Titanic and will be returning to Belfast for the Centennial celebrations this weekend with the rest of my family.

Richard Dean, Nelson, B.C.

My paternal grandfather, Horace John Dean, was the First Officer on the Carpathia, the ship that rescued the survivors from the Titanic. The captain of the ship was asleep at the time the S.O.S. message came in and my grandfather believed the validity of the message the radio operator got and went to wake up the captain. He received one of the 12 Titanic medals that were handed out to the captain, officers and crew of the Carpathia for their work. He died before I was born, but it’s a piece of family history that we have all heard, and one of my relatives in England still has the medal.

Douglas Bellamy, Mississauga, Ont.

My mother’s aunt Ada and her husband George Swane were booked on the Titanic. They were planning to immigrate to start a new life in the New World. But something came up at the last moment and they couldn’t make it. But they were still listed on a copy of the ship's manifest, because I picked up a book in the library in the 1960s and they were reported as missing from the Titanic. In fact, Ada and George went on to book passage on a subsequent crossing and spent 11 years performing all over North America and the Hotel Winnipeg with George on the piano and Ada singing. Ada related these tales faithfully each Christmas during the 1960s to her grand niece and nephews until she died.

Graham Murphy, Halifax, NS.

My former boss, John Snow is a fourth generation funeral director of Snow & Company Undertakers in Halifax. The company had the gruesome task of retrieving bodies, preparring them for burial at sea or bringing them back to Halifax. In the end, from the site, helped to process the 209 bodies were recovered to Halifax, most of which were taken to the Mayflower Curling Club -- set up as a temporary morgue because it was the largest refrigerated building in town. In the weeks that followed, Snow and Company, assisted by other funeral homes, buried some 150 bodies in three Halifax cemeteries. The last Titanic burials took place June 6, 1912. The funeral home is the oldest in the province. The original building is now home to the Five Fishermen restaurant, but the company still exists as part of the Dignity Memorial network of funeral homes.

Shirley Pettit, Sarnia, Ont.

My mother, and her parents and brother, decided to immigrate from England to Canada. They were booked on third class tickets on the Titanic, but for some reason, they got delayed and only came into the harbour to see the ship sailing away. Now my mother was only four or five years old at the time, but she told us of remembering her father being very cross with his wife and was acting like it was her fault they missed the boat. It was only after they made the crossing on another ship that they learned about what happened. Good thing too because they were third class ticket holders. Had they not missed the ship, I probably wouldn’t be here!

Leslie Dadlani, Toronto

My great-grandfather, William Bond, 40, was a third-class bedroom steward on the Titanic. To appease his wife, Eliza, 30 and the mother of his nine children, he took a job with the White Star Line after being away too long on ships heading to the Mediterranean. He promised Eliza that the position on the prestigious Titanic meant he would only be gone a fortnight (two weeks, round trip) and therefore would be able to be a more attentive husband and father.

His body was never recovered, but I am in possession of the original certificate of the “supposed death of a seaman” issued by the General Register and Record Officer of Shipping and Seamen in Tower Hill, London, England, on June 20, 1912. The certificate provides the ship's last co-ordinates of Lat 41.16N, Long 50.14W.

After the tragedy and as compensation for her loss, the White Star Line gave Eliza and her children free passage to North America. When she landed in Boston, she married a Canadian and together they raised my grandmother and her siblings in Canada.

As told to Tamara Baluja. The interviews have been edited and condensed.

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