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Titanic

*... as far as the eye could see, the ocean was strewn with wreckage and debris with bodies bobbing up and down in the cold sea.

* Arminias Wiseman aboard the Mackay-Bennett arriving at the site of the Titanic sinking

 

Shortly after the Titanic sank, the White Star Line chartered four Canadian vessels; two Halifax-based cable ships, the MacKay-Bennett and the Minia, a Canadian Government vessel Montmagny and a St. John's based Bowring vessel, Algerine. There were 328 bodies recovered, with 309 being returned to Halifax; the badly damaged, or deteriorated bodies were buried at sea. Of the 119 buried at sea, about 60 were unidentified at the time and 49 remain unidentified. Once victims were returned to Halifax, a temporary morgue was set up in the Mayflower Curling Rink near the northwest corner of Agricola and McCully Streets. From here, identified bodies were shipped out to families' or interred in Halifax according to families' wishes. The bodies were handled by Halifax undertakers Snow and Company, assisted by 40 embalmers from all over the Maritimes. About 55 bodies were claimed by relatives.The Halifax Deputy Registrar of Deaths, John Henry Barnstead, supervised the handling of victims with all personal effects kept in small canvas bags, numbered to match the body number assigned at sea. Careful records of the artifacts were kept and can be inspected today at the Public Archives of Nova Scotia. J. H. Barnstead's son, Arthur S., was to be appointed head of the Mortuary Committee 5 1/2 years later after the devastating Explosion in Halifax Harbour when Halifax and Dartmouth had ten times as many victims to deal with. Ultimately 150 Titanic victims were buried in Halifax in ceremonies from May 3 to June 12, 1912. Nineteen are in the Mount Olivet Catholic Cemetery, ten are in the Baron de Hirsch Jewish Cemetery and 121 are in the Fairview Lawn Cemetery. Of these, 42 remain unidentified. In 1929-30 the White Star Steamship Company placed a $7,500 deposit with the Royal Trust Company of Canada for the care of the graves. The City of Halifax assumed this perpetual responsibility when the Fairview Cemetery Company Limited went out of business in 1944. Royal Trust is presently negotiating to transfer the remaining trust fund monies to Halifax to maintain the Fairview graves and has transferred proportionate amounts to maintain the Catholic and Jewish cemeteries' Titanic graves. Over the years, the concrete coping holding the black granite headstones has settled and frost-cracked and the Municipality is now considering significant repairs to maintain the integrity of this international heritage site. Funds have been proposed for a future civic capital budget to begin this work. Advice has been obtained how to effect the repairs without compromising the simple beauty and tranquillity of the site.

    - Main part of text by Alan Ruffman, March 1998
    - Some excerpts by the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic

For More Information, please contact:

    Civic Support Program "Gifts for Parks"
    c/o Stephen King, Manager
    Parks & Natural Services
    Halifax Regional Municipality
    P.O. Box 1749
    Halifax, Nova Scotia
    B3J 3A5
    Telephone: (902) 490-4894
    Fax (902) 490-4890

Map of Fairview Lawn Cemetery

Photo tours of the sites