Montreal - knowing full well that the steamer on board which he was travelling with his family would make shipwreck of a minute to the other, Leonard Delamont has detached its rescue jacket and gave it to his mother. Then he kissed me before embarking on the icy waters of the st. Lawrence River.
The young man, who has never been seen, is one of the 1012 people who have lost their lives in this foggy night after the R.M.S. Empress of Ireland had collided with another ship, the S.S. Storstad, off the coast of the Gaspé peninsula. In the space of 14 minutes, the ship sank.
The wreck that occurred on May 29th, 1914 is one of the most serious maritime accidents in the history of the country, but many Canadians have never really heard of.
The tragedy of the R.M.S. Empress of Ireland was not publicized as that of the luxurious Titanic, who had sunk two years earlier. But according to some experts, the approach of the centenary of the accident might change the game.
The Anniversary will be highlighted by the issuance of commemorative stamps and coins. An exhibition will be launched at the Canadian museum of history, a monument will be unveiled and ceremonies will be held at various locations in the country.
The descendants of the passengers who were on board the vessel, as the niece of Leonard Delamont, hoping that the centenary of the shipwreck will allow Canadians to learn more about the tragedy and the hundreds of victims who perished that night.
"A lot of Canadians don't know the story, and I guess I'll do one of those people if I didn't have a family relationship", said June Ivany, who hope to participate in the events this week in Rimouski, not far from the Site of the accident at sea.
Before the fatal motor vehicle collision, the steamer had played an important role in the history of Canadian immigration. Between 1906 and 1914, approximately 120 000 European immigrants have left the old continent to start a new life in Canada.
According to the federal government, about a million Canadians - so a person on about 35-has an ancestor who traveled aboard the R.M.S. Empress of Ireland. Others believe the ratio is more modest, or a person on 60.
But despite its historic importance, the sinking of the ship was overshadowed by that of transatlantic two others: the Titanic and the Lusitania, who both have done more than 1000 victims.
In 1912, the first struck an iceberg, killing approximately 1700 victims. The second was torpedoed by a German submarine in 1915. Nearly 1200 people were killed in the attack.
The sinking of the R.M.S. Empress of Ireland has certainly made the headlines in the international, but the attention of the planet has quickly directed towards another event: the first world war, which erupted a few weeks later.
Over the years, the families affected by the disaster, as the family Delamont, were eventually overshadow the subject to avoid arousing of painful memories.
"We did not talk about it during my childhood", said June Ivany, who shared the story of his family on a website dedicated to the anniversary of the tragedy.
The four members of the family of Leonard Delamont who were aboard the ship - including his mother Seraphine, to whom he gave his jacket flotation - are part of the 465 lucky who survived the shipwreck. In addition to hear the stories about the sacrifice of his uncle, Mrs. Ivany has also learned more about the painful experience of his aunt Elizabeth.
" We tore her hair while she was in the water, did she reported. She never wanted to go back in a bathtub because she was terrified of the water."
The wreck has also changed the course of the lives of the families of some of the victims. Donna Parker maintains that she wouldn't be alive had it not been for the event.
His grandfather, will Clark, has lost his first wife Lavinia and their daughter aged nine years, Nellie, in the tragedy. He had not made the trip with them since he had to stay in the house for work, according to Mrs. Parker.
Will Clark has later remarried. He had two children, eight grandchildren and several great-grandchildren.
"The thing that affects me, it's that it's a terribly tragic story, but despite this, my family would not have existed without this", stated Ms. Parker, who lives in the city of Ancaster, Ontario, and which provides She also take part in the commemorative events which will take place in Rimouski.
" This is part of our history, did she sued. I just think that these people should not be forgotten."
Chris Klausen, who owns one of the most impressive collections of artifacts of the R.M.S. Empress of Ireland, believes that history has been forgotten because the majority of the passengers who perished in the accident were part of the middle class, unlike those who took Place Aboard The Luxurious Titanic.
"Finally, there is a recognition; it will be a balm for the families", did he suggested. Some of them will turn on the side of Rimouski by duty of memory.
Events will take place in the next week at the Maritime Museum of Pointe-AU-Father, where a whole flag is dedicated to the tragedy. The Bells of the church of rimouski and the village of Sainte-Luce, situated at twenty kilometres away, ring in unison on 29 may at 1 P. M. and time at which the R.M.S. Empress of Ireland collided with the S.S. Storstad.