Tuesday, April 14, 2009

titanic bubbles to the surface

the maritime museum of the atlantic unveiled some nifty new bits of the titanic this morning. curator dan conlin, with whom i once had drinks in 1750s louisbourg, showed off the goods.

the joint was packed! there must have been bugger all happening in halifax today, as everyone was there - four tv cameras, radio, CP with their video, plus all the papers (me for metro). crazy.

the coolest - creepiest? - was the mortuary bag. it belonged to a crew member named edmund stone, who died on the ship and then was buried at sea. they say he sank like a .... no. i won't pun the dead.

anyway, when they recovered his body - the 41st - they gathered his personal effects and stowed them in the rough canvas bag and mailed it to his widow.

“When I hold this material, it does sometimes feel a little spooky. I just imagine this mortuary bag arriving in the mail to Mrs. Stone, and her opening this up, and this is all that’s left of her husband,” dan told me.

the bag has a big 41 written on it, and a note of its one-time contents: a rusty pocket watch, a few keys and a ticket for an item held at a pawn shop were all that remained of the 33-year-old. some fancier passengers had pockets stuffed full of diamonds, awaiting a rescue that never came.

the other nifty artifact was a rosette carved from wood from the grand staircase - you know, the one leonardo comes down so elegantly. or was that kate? i can't remember.

dan described halifax as one of five cities “locked in a grim embrace with Titanic. Belfast, where she was built, Liverpool, home of much of the crew, Southampton, where she sailed from, New York, her destination, and Halifax, the final resting place of many of her passengers and crew."

in the morning, i was at the presser for high school musical at neptune. brought to you by the same people who did plaid tidings, i wasn't super excited, shall we say. i was taping my toe midway through the first song though - show's saturday night, so i'll let you know if i grow retrogressive acne.


  1. What is really interesting and actually quite sad is going through the list of the bodies recovered and their accessories and tattoos etc. from the archives. Makes the people real.

  2. that was what struck me about the mortuary bag - it was so ordinary, and the contents so unassuming. i could picture stone setting his watch that morning, and wondered what he would make of all of us media types taking talking about in nearly 100 years later.