The R.M.S. Empress of Ireland Community

The Empress of Ireland and the Lethbridge Connection

David Clausen was one of those people who could legitimately say “the report of my death are greatly exaggerated’. The 30th, of May 1914 the Lethbridge Herald reported him as deceased even though David Clausen did not actually die until many years later.


Clausen was one of the 10 people from Lethbridge who sailed on the Empress of Ireland on May 28th, 1914. The other nine all perished when the ship sank the following day; David Clausen was the lone survivor. The residence of Lethbridge learned of his survival via telegram David sent to his friends in Lethbridge and reported in the June 1st 1914 Lethbridge Herald.


Among the dead were nine people from Lethbridge: Brigadier John Hunter, Jessie Tulloch Hunter, Grace Hunter, Stewart Hunter, Elizabeth Kitley, Joe Cresswell, Fanny Cresswell, William J. Giles and Emma Hammer. David Clausen was the only Lethbridge survivor and one of the only 465 persons who made it off the ship that day.


Being on a ship that sank may have made David Clausen more than nervous about sailing, but it was not the case and did not stop him from sailing. When Clausen booked passage in 1946 to Sweden, the Lethbridge Herald took the opportunity to write about him and his Empress of Ireland experience.


The title of the Article was “Going to Sweden David Clausen Hopes for Better Sailing” David Clausen first came to Lethbridge from Sweden in 1910. In 1914 he planned to return to Sweden for a visit and for his brother’s funeral. His trip was of course interrupted by the Empress of Ireland sinking.


Clausen had stated that during the disaster he “himself” spent an anxious time helping to load the lifeboats, as the Empress of Ireland prepared for its death plunge he jumped into the chilly waters of the river and swam around a few moments before climbing into one of the life boats. Clausen was able to continue to Sweden although he lost all of his baggage and arrived in time to attend his brother’s funeral.


As a result of the WW1, Clausen remained in Sweden until 1917 then he returned to Lethbridge with his new Swedish wife. The couple remains in Lethbridge until 1919 when they moved to Daysland. In 1930 the family returned to Lethbridge were David Clausen remained until his death. He worked as a carpenter throughout his career.

Carl David Clausen died in Lethbridge, Alberta, on 26 December, 1969, allegedly 84 years old. The gravestone says he was born 1884. His wife was a Hildur Amanda Clausen. He was a carpenter and was born in Piteå, Sweden. A Karl David (no last name) was registered as having been born in Piteå on 30 December, 1884, to Nils Johan and Elsa Margareta (nee Lidström) Claesén. His wife was born in Jävrebyn (Hildur Amalia Höglund, 29 July 1893 – 1974). He had travelled on the Empress of Ireland, his point of origin being listed as Lethbridge, Alberta, and his destination Gothenburg, Sweden

David Clausen

Belinda Crowson Lethbridge, Alberta and Peter Engberg-Klarström. Copyright 2017

Anyone with further information on David Clausen, please contact Ian Kinder at