In Halifax, Titanic memorabilia rises to prominence
Story by Mariellen Ward
Vacay.ca Senior Writer
HALIFAX, NOVA SCOTIA — On April 15, the centenary of the world’s most famous shipwreck was commemorated with much fanfare around the world. The RMS Titanic foundered about 600 kilometres off the coast of Newfoundland on April 15, 1912, and, as we were reminded earlier this month when Halifax respectfully honoured the Titanic, the Port of Halifax was the base for the recovery operations.
Consequently, along with the many centenary events, there are a lot of permanent Titanic-related exhibits and sites in Halifax that make for a fascinating visit. Tourism Nova Scotia publishes a Titanic in Nova Scotia booklet that lists 19 Titanic sites in Metro Halifax (and about six others throughout the province). Other resources list even more — from 21 to 45.
The Titanic Online
There are numerous resources available online for researching the Titanic sites in Halifax and planning your trip. The government of Nova Scotia has a Titanic site that provides a good historical overview and a summary of events, sites and other interesting information.
On the Destination Halifax Titanic site you can plan a tour of Titanic sites in Halifax with the help of an interactive map.
The Titanic in Halifax
A permanent exhibit at the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic, The Unsinkable Ship and Halifax, should be your first stop. The moving exhibit is an enduring legacy of the Titanic tragedy and the role that Halifax played. More than 50 artifacts are on display, many of them picked up as flotsam at the time of the disaster, including one of the only surviving deck chairs and a large piece of elaborately carved wood from the grand staircase. A special exhibit about Cable Ships, running until November 4, 2012, delves deeper into the Titanic-Halifax connection — as it was two cable ships that went out in the days following the tragedy to recover bodies.
The Nova Scotia Archives in downtown Halifax is the other main repository of Titanica. You can view artifacts such as coroner’s records, correspondence, old newspapers, books, diaries, passenger lists, photographs and much more when you visit. Or you can check out their virtual exhibit online. The Fatality Reports make for fascinating, and heart-breaking, reading.
Don’t miss a stop at the Bedford Institute of Oceanography. It’s across the bridge, in Dartmouth, but well worth the drive — especially if you get a guided tour of the permanent Titanic exhibit. The scientific exhibit gives you a real sense of what deep ocean life is like on and around the Titanic wreck, and the highlight is the accurate model of the front section wedged into the sediment, where it landed 100 years ago.
Other sites include churches and buildings connected to survivors, victims and the recovery operation. Halifax has the largest number of Titanic graves in the world. There are about 150 Titanic graves at three different cemeteries. The Fairview Lawn Cemetery contains 121 graves, including the Unknown Child (recently identified as Sidney Leslie Goodwin), band violinist John Law Hume and J. Dawson (an inspiration, perhaps, for the Leonardo DiCaprio character in the James Cameron film). The Titanic grave site is well-marked and many of the graves are often adorned with flowers, toys and other mementoes.
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Note: Photo courtesy of the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic and Tourism Nova Scotia