This year, Halifax, the capital of Nova Scotia will commemorate the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic, one of the greatest marine tragedies in history. Concerts, museum shows, special tours and culinary experiences will honor Halifax's Titanic connections in many touching ways that embrace the province's history and culture.
The Titanic's tragic story has captured the imagination of the world and spawned 1,000 books, 17 movies, hundreds of documentaries and millions of magazine and newspaper articles. It was April 14, 1912 when the RMS Titanic, sailing on her maiden voyage with 1,300 passengers and 900 crew members, struck an iceberg in the north Atlantic. In less than three hours, the "unsinkable ship," the pride of the White Star Line, went down in the icy waters. The Cunard Line's Carpathia was the first to arrive at the scene rescuing 700 passengers.
At first, White Star Line executives believed the Titanic would be able to sail to Halifax, the closest major port. Later, the company dispatched four Canadian vessels to look for the victims including two vessels based in Halifax, the Mackay Bennett and the Minia. Halifax's most moving connection with the tragedy would come during the aftermath as the
final resting place of many of the passengers.
There are more than 20 sites related to the Titanic in the capital and throughout the province. On the waterfront, The Maritime Museum of the Atlantic has the world's largest collection of wooden artifacts from the ship. From April 12 to November 4, the Museum will present a special exhibition, "Cable Ships: Connecting Halifax to The Titanic and the World." A photo installation by Andrew Danson Danuskevsky, "An Earnest Price: 150 Grave Stories," will run from April 3 through June. And on the evening of April 14, 2012, a real time account of the Titanic's fate will unfold via the Museum's Twitter account through the same wireless messages received 100 years earlier. http://museum.gov.ns.ca/mmanew/en/home/default.aspx
Groundbreaking research on the Titanic wreck conducted by the Geological Survey of Canada will be on display at the Bedford Institute of Technology which celebrates its 50th anniversary next year. On January 12, BIO geophysicist and Titanic expert Steve Blasco will explain what scientists have learned from examining the remains of the ship. For the
anniversary on April 15 and on Mondays to Fridays from May thought August, visitors can view an exhibit of what the Titanic looks like today lying on the ocean floor. www.bio.gc.ca/tours-visites-eng.htm
The Nova Scotia Archives contain a virtual exhibit of the Titanic with photos, passenger lists, fatality reports and British magazines of the time. Next year the Archives will host Titanic "open-house" days for those visitors interested in seeing these records and learning more about the ship's connection to Halifax. www.gov.ns.ca/nsarm/virtual/titanic
From June 1 to mid October, Ambassatours Gray Line will offer a "Titanic 100 Year" Tour which will include visits to several of the city's Titanic sites including the Fairview Lawn Cemetery where guides recount heart-rending stories about the 121 passengers buried here, bearing witness to the range of cultures and social classes on board the great liner. (www.ambassatours.com/atlantic-canada-tours/all-atlantic-canada). Dtours Visitor and Convention Services will also offer Titanic-themed tours.
Other Titanic stops include Canada's oldest Protestant church, Saint Paul's where a memorial service was held for the victims on April 21, 1912. Another is St. George's Round Church where the crew of the Mackay-Bennett held a service for the "unknown child" (later identified as English toddler Sidney Goodwin).
The 2012 production of the Royal Nova Scotia International Tattoo will include a special salute to the Titanic. This indoor spectacle featuring 2,000 world-class Canadian and international military and civilian performers will take place July 1 to 8. www.nstattoo.ca
Over the years Halifax authors have produced a number of works about the ship, and two new books are due out in 2012. John Boileau's Halifax & Titanic will come out in March and Children of the Titanic by Christine Welldon will debut in April.
For more information about Halifax and the Titanic, visit www.destinationhalifax.com/titanic and for information about Nova Scotia, go to www.novascotia.com.