Why I drew The Empress Of Ireland Deck Plans
It started in 1992. A very good friend of mine had an old, faded drawing of the Empress of Ireland and it was impossible at that time to find anyone selling the drawing or who knew about the sinking of the Empress. So, I decided to take the challenge and put my artistic skills to work. I remember saying to my friend, "It won't take me long to draw this; I figure a week, no more."
A year later the drawing and text were complete. In addition to drawing the Rigging Plan, I had to make sure the historical information was correct as well.
Three years later I decided to draw the deck plans and I began by securing permission from the copyright owners. The original drawings had been made in 1906 and, with the passage of ninety-odd years, the ink had faded and many of the lines had blurred together. I had obviously learned little from my previous experience with the Rigging Plan, figuring I could draw the Boat and Upper Promenade Decks within a week, since these were the smallest of all the deck plans. In the end, it took a month, working every day for ten to twelve hours.
The larger decks, such as Shelter, Upper, Main and Lower, took the most time to draw, in view of the amount of detail involved. Next came the placing of the names on the various parts of the ship. Finally I added a short story chronology on each deck plan, so readers can follow from deck to deck some of the events that took place after Storstad collided with the Empress of Ireland on May 29, 1914.
When I met David Zeni he was doing research on the Empress of Ireland and asked if I would be interested in putting my drawings into his upcoming book. David had asked if it were possible to put the cabin numbers into all the staterooms throughout the vessel. That way, anyone reading David's book could locate some of the passengers he describes who were aboard that fateful night.
Since my drawings had been drawn to a larger scale there was plenty of room to place the cabin numbers within each cabin on the following six decks: Upper and Lower Promenade Deck, Shelter, Upper, Main and Lower. Once this had been done, the drawings were sent to the publishers in England. The publishers removed the short story chronology on each deck plan and reduced the drawings to fit into David's book. The final product is nothing short of fantastic: sharp and clear.
About The Author
Long before Ian and Penny met, Ian was fascinated from an early age with anything that had to do with the oceans. His family on his father’s side were mainly seafarers; his father and most of his uncles had gone to sea in World War II. Ian grew up hearing countless stories by his father of merchant convoys, the ships he’d sailed on, and the ones that didn't make it after a U-boat encounter.
Growing up and watching shows like Sea Hunt, Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea and movies like 20,000 Leagues under the Sea, or reading undersea adventure novels by Jules Verne and Clive Cussler fed Ian’s imagination even further.
In the early ‘80s Ian decided to take a scuba diving course that was given by the YMCA in Westmount, Quebec. This opened up a whole new world to explore and one day, back in 1989, he was introduced to a old, yellowed drawing of the R.M.S. Empress of Ireland. It inspired him to redraw all nine deck plans and, with that, he started to investigate and research the story behind the Empress.
Ian’s drawings have been shown or mentioned in books like Forgotten Empress by David Zeni (published in Britain, Canada and Germany), and Derek Grout’s Empress of Ireland: The Story of an Edwardian Liner, published in Britain. They have also been featured in documentary films such as Journey to Oblivion -- The Empress of Ireland Story (Merlin Films), The History Channel’s Deep Sea Detectives, Sinking on the St. Lawrence, and magazines such as Skin Diver, Wreck Diver, Titanic Commentator Titanic Historical Society Inc., Atlantic Daily Bulletin, and Journal of the British Titanic Society. The drawings are sold through various dive shops such as Expertise Maritime DIVETECK Inc. in Ste-Luce-sur-Mer, Québec, and Dan’s Scuba in St. Catherine’s, Ontario, as well as Musée de la Mer in Rimouski, Quebec, Musée Maritime Bernier in L’Islet-sur-Mer, and other maritime-oriented museums in Canada and elsewhere.
Ian became a NAUI Instructor (National Association of Underwater Instructors) in 1992 and has taught Open Water Scuba Diving since 1994, starting at Montreal’s McGill University, and now gives private classes.
His love for investigating and diving on known and unknown shipwrecks has led him on numerous journeys up and down the Atlantic coast of Canada, from Prince Edward Island to Cape Breton, to the Great Lakes and the Caribbean.
Penny was introduced to scuba diving at the age of thirteen by her two older brothers. She spent much of her early scuba career diving out of Tobermory, Ontario, on Lake Huron. Later she was fortunate to be able to go diving in the Carolina s and in Florida with an instructor friend. She has a wide range of experience—caves, night dives, wrecks.
Penny and Ian have been together for several years and were married last year on top of a glacier in Alaska. When they first met, Ian quickly realized how much scuba experience she had, and that she shared his passion for shipwreck diving. Penny has happily joined Ian in several dives in places such as Mexico, the Bahamas, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and many local sites closer to home. Penny recently became an advanced diver, and enjoys assisting Ian with his Open Water scuba courses; presently she is working toward becoming a Dive Master.
Currently both are living happily together in Stoney Creek overlooking Lake Ontario, Canada.
We hope you enjoy this website.
Ian and Penny