Speaker Series

Canada's Worst Maritime Disaster

Author, illustrator and historian Ian Kinder has spoken to several groups and organizations about the Empress of Ireland, her sister ship, the Empress of Britain, from their construction in 1905 to 1906, their careers and what happened on the fateful early morning hours of May 29th, 1914, to the Empress of Ireland and the aftermath of the disaster.

The Canadian Pacific Railway flag ship transatlantic liner, R.M.S. Empress of Ireland was travelling down the St. Lawrence River with 1,057 passengers. Which also included 167 Salvation Army personal who were traveling to the Third International Congress in London, England. Dropping off the pilot at Father Point the Empress of Ireland continues at full speed towards her next Port of Call Liverpool, England.


Ahead of the Empress drifts a thick fog bank across the river. On the forward mast of the Empress lookout John Carroll stands in the crows-nest and reports back to the bridge that he sees a single light of an approaching ship.


Captain Kendall master of the Empress of Ireland does the unthinkable as the other ship started to disappear into the fog. He attempted to stop his 14,191 ton ship from full speed ahead to full stop in two minutes and refuses to close the watertight doors and portholes until it was to late. 


The accident that took place between the Empress of Ireland and the Storstad was horrific. It killed more passengers than the Titanic that happened only two year previously on the North Atlantic. 

Many questions were left unanswered to this very day.

Why was there more crew saved than passengers?

Why did Captain Kendall lie how the accident took place?

For groups or organizations who are interested in a presentation on the Empress of Ireland, please contact me below. Thank you.

Why did Chief Engineer William Sampson lied at the Formal Inquiry the defective steering gear?

The wreck of the Empress of Ireland remains Canada’s worst maritime disaster in peacetime, and this year marks the 100th anniversary of the sinking.

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