Maritime Disasters: Empress of Ireland

May 2022

On 29 May 1914, the magnificent passenger liner Empress of Ireland sank in the St Lawrence River with the loss of over a thousand people. A full two years after the Titanic disaster, this was a vessel with adequate lifeboats and watertight compartments, and yet she foundered in just fourteen minutes after a collision with a Norwegian collier – ss Storstad – which punched an enormous hole into her side allowing 60,000 gallons of water in. More passengers died in this tragedy than eitherTitanic or Lusitania, both of which have featured in our Maritime Disasters series. She was one of the first two passenger liners built especially for the Canadian Pacific Line’s growing emigrant trade from Liverpool to Canada, her sister ship being the Empress of Britain and they provided a weekly service for emigrants, starting in the Spring of 1906. With so many years of service behind her the Empress of Ireland has an important position in the history of thousands of Canadians today. To find out more Dr Sam Willis spoke with Dan Conlin, curator at the Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21 in Halifax, Nova Scotia.

Category: | | |