Halifax has a deep connection to the sea, including history’s worst maritime tragedy, the sinking of The Titanic.
When news of the disaster reached the mainland, three ships were sent out from to recover as many of the victims as possible.
It’s impossible to describe our feelings. So many headstones bearing the same date; April 15, 1912
It is not certain that each victim died on April 15th, it is assumed that due to the freezing temperatures no one could have survived that kind of exposure to the elements. Therefore, each marker bears that date.
Mr. Elliot was a member of the crew, a coal trimmer. His
epitaph reads “Each man stood at his post while all the
weaker ones went by and showed one more to all the
world how Englishmen should die.”
In all, three hundred and twenty-eight bodies were found, and of those, two hundred and nine were brought to Halifax to be claimed by relatives, or buried should no one come forward.
Three quarters of those were never spoken for and are buried in three of the city’s cemeteries, most in Fairview Lawn.
The company that owned the Titanic, The White Star Line, had land surveyor F.W. Christie design the full plot to fit into the slope of the hill.
John Law Hume, violinist in the orchestra that played as Titanic sank. All eight band members died, yet heroically continued their music until the end. Mr. Hume was 21 years old at the time of his death and was survived by his fiancée and his unborn baby.
With somber hearts we walked through the Fairview Lawn Cemetery to the gravesites of the one-hundred-twenty-one casualties and paid our respects.
Many of the headstones are marked only by numbers, as the identities of the victims remain unknown.
Ms. Henriksson was from Sweden, and was traveling with
her cousin Ellen Petterson, who also perished
If a person’s identity was discovered later their name was engraved on the side of the stone, rather than the top.
Jenny Lovisa Henriksson was simply “Number 3” until 1991. Then, through deduction and the careful notes taken at the time of the disaster, the initials on her clothing led investigators to match her name with the remaining unknown victims list.
Perhaps the most poignant was the unknown grave of a two-year-old child brought back aboard The MacKay-Bennett, one of ships sent out from Halifax to retrieve the deceased from the site of the disaster.
Just recently the boy was identified through DNA samples, but his family prefers that his gravestone remain nameless as a remembrance for all of the other unknown victims. Instead, a plaque was placed at the foot of little Sidney’s stone.
Mr. Freeman was a chief deck steward and a secretary to White Star chairman Bruce Ismay. He was survived by his wife and daughter. His
epitaph reads “He remained at his post of duty, seeking to save others. Regardless of his own life and went down with the ship.”
Mrs. Paulson and her four children were traveling to unite with their husband and father, Nils, in Chicago. Mr. Paulson worked as a tram conductor and had saved for two years to bring his family over to join him.
Mr. King was from Ireland and served as a clerk on the Titanic.
Mr. Franklin, from England, was a saloon steward aboard the ship. He married his wife, Blanche, the year before the sinking. They had a son, Alan, and their daughter was born was a few months after Mr. Franklin’s death.
Many of the victims of the 1917 Halifax Explosion are buried in Fairview Lawn as well. More about the Halifax Explosion here.
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