Empress of Ireland

This page is intended to provide information for divers and non-divers interested in learning about
the R.M.S. Empress of Ireland.

 

This is the last known photo of the Empress of Ireland on May 28, 1914 as she left Quebec City only a few hours before she would sink following a collision with the collier Storstad in fourteen minutes in one of the greatest tragedies in maritime history with 1012 lives lost. 

 

The cause of the collision was debated passionately then and will not doubt be in dispute for many more years to come.  While the Storstad was held accountable in the court of inquiry, the nature of the collision suggested that miscommunication between both ships while in fog or immediately prior to entering fog, resulted in the disaster.  Click here to see one interpretation of what may have happened based on each version.  

 

Today, she lies on her starboard side, at an angle of approximately 60 degrees in nearly 150 feet of water in the St. Lawrence river off Point-au-Pere (Father Point).

 

Read Empress of Ireland: An Essay, written by Heather Knowles and David Caldwell, a fusion of past dive reports and the history of the ship.

 

Links

There are many  websites and resources for those interested in learning more about the Empress.  Here are some of the better ones we have found that provide useful and interesting information.

 

The Empress of Ireland

- Ian Kindler's website on the Empress of Ireland, which includes photos, video, stories, deck plans and memorials.

 

Sea View Imaging

- Dan Lindsay's website about the Empress of Ireland which has numerous links to related websites.  This site has information on diving, history, passengers and crew, as well as the project to save Empress artifacts from being removed from Canada and sold to individual buyers.

 

Musee de la Mer

- The museum at Point au Pere which houses many artifacts from the Empress.  A truly an impressive collection of artifacts, the museum pays tribute to many of the Empress divers and their contributions. As of 2002, a complete set of  deck plans could be purchased from the museum for about $30 US.  Several books and videos can also be purchased here. 

 

Northern Atlantic Dive Expeditions - Empress of Ireland Expeditions 2002-2006

- Dive reports, photos and information for past and planned expeditions to the wreck conducted by Northern Atlantic Dive Expeditions.  This section contains photos of the local area and underwater photos of the wreck.  NADE is the host of this Empress of Ireland information webpage.

 

Side Scan Sonar Images

- Side scan sonar images taken by the Canadian Navy Route Survey Office in Halifax using the Klein System 5000.

 

Tidal Information

- Tide predictions for Point-au-Pere station can be found here.

 

Lodging:

There are numerous hotels, motels and B&Bs in the Rimouski and Saint Luce areas.  We recommend the following:

 

Hotel L'Empress

- A local hotel in Rimouski decorated to the theme of the Empress of Ireland.  There is a nice restaurant within the hotel.  Rooms are neat, clean and new.  Friendly staff (some English spoken).  Summer rates as of 2006 were $89-120/night CAD plus tax depending on room.  Call 1-888-724-6944 to make a reservation.  Be specific that the Hotel Empress is where you would like to stay, as there are a number of hotels owned by the same group.

 

Empress of Ireland reading:

These books are available at the above linked sites or on Amazon.com.  There are many books on the Empress but these are three of the best books on the topic available.  Additional books will be added to the list as they are read and reviewed.

 

Empress of Ireland, Story of an Edwardian Liner by Derek Grout

- This book covers high level details about the Empress and CPR, including many statistics and data about the ship, the operations, staff, etc.  There is also a large section on the Inquiry and night of the sinking, including numerous first hand accounts from survivors.  Not a lot of photos but excellent information with exquisite detail.  This book is widely available, for about $20 US.

 

Forgotten Empress by David Zeni

- Probably one of the most comprehensive and well written books on the Empress available.  The book covers the early days of the Canadian Pacific Railways and the construction of the Empress through the disaster and subsequent salvage efforts in the months following the sinking.  Actual excerpts of the inquest are included as well as a small fold out set of deck plans.  Many pictures and color photos of the wreck and diver recovered artifacts.  This book retails for ~$30 US.

 

Fourteen Minutes by James Croall

- This book covers the harrowing night of May 29, 1914  with great detail.  The story is primarily based on first hand accounts from survivors and provides an excellent analysis of the collision.  A little bit of an easier read than Zeni's book as it is not as technical.  This book is out of print and hard to find but well worth it.  Used copies can be found on Amazon but expect to pay $50-100 US for a decent hardcover version.

 

Empress of Ireland Video:

Several videos have been released.

Journey to Oblivion: The Empress of Ireland Story

- A video documentary on the sinking with a good segment of underwater footage.  Recently released in English, this video can be purchased from the Musee de la Mer.  This documentary is well done and is worth purchasing.

 

Dany St Cyr released a video that is a compilation of underwater footage from the exterior of the wreck to the inner most reaches where few have been.  An excellent video for anyone planning to dive the Empress as it will give a good idea of the dive conditions and particularly interesting things to see.  See the link to his website above for contact information and availability.  The video can also be purchased through the Musee de la Mer.

 

For information about diving the Empress or if you have corrections, additions or suggestions about this page, email us at info@northernatlanticdive.com.  We are interested in hearing from you!

 

Last updated: November 18, 2012

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Northern Atlantic Dive Expeditions, Inc.  All Rights Reserved.