Port of departure
Passengers arrive all morning and the Titanic sets sail on her maiden voyage at noon on April 10, 1912.
Site of collision
On the night of April 14, 1912 lookout Frederick Fleet spotted an iceberg dead ahead. The iceberg ruptured the starboard (right) hull and the Titanic began to fill with water.
The wreck of the Titanic rests to the south west of the collision site in two main pieces 600 feet apart.
Nearest major port
Halifax was the closest major seaport with rail connections. It was the base for ships searching for, and recovering bodies of, Titanic victims. Three ships were dispatched from Halifax: Mackay-Bennett, Minia and Montmagny. Along with the Algerine from Saint John's, Newfoundland, these ships found and returned almost all of the victims left by the Titanic.
Original destination of
The Titanic was scheduled to arrive in New York on Wednesday April 17, 1912.
Known for its natural beauty and the hospitality of its people, Nova Scotia is a founding province of Canada. It is a peninsula, bounded by the Bay of Fundy on the west, the sea with the Gulf of St. Lawrence and Northumberland Strait on the north, and the Atlantic Ocean on the south and east.
Nova Scotia is the most populous province in Atlantic Canada. Many North Americans trace their roots back to Nova Scotia. The capital city, Halifax, was founded in 1749. Today, Halifax is a major port city with a Canadian Navy base, container shipping ports, and a thriving cruise ship business.
The city has been affected by many major disasters. The two most famous are the 1912 sinking of the Titanic and the 1917 Halifax Explosion. In recent years, the Swiss Air 111 disaster has also had an impact on the city and province. The 9/11 tragedy found Halifax a caring host city for many displaced air travelers.
The Titanic, one of the most splendid and luxurious passenger steamships ever built, was launched in Belfast in 1912. Her maiden voyage left Southampton on April 10, 1912. Stopping at Belfast, she left for New York with 2,223 passengers on board.
The ship was equipped with some of the most modern technologies of her day. Her passengers lived in opulence while onboard. Her undoing, however, was an iceberg which she hit at 11:40 pm on April 14, 1912.
By 2:20 am on April 15, 1912 the Titanic had sunk into the icy waters of the North Atlantic. More than any other marine disaster, the sinking of the Titanic encapsulates the drama, horror, heartbreak, and heroism of a shipwreck. Most of the 706 survivors were taken to New York on the Carpathia.
All of the dead were brought to Halifax, Nova Scotia, from where the recovery ships had been launched to aid in the effort to find and retrieve the victims. On that fateful night 1,517 of her passengers were killed as a result of the sinking.
Halifax was the major port closest to the area in which the Titanic sank. It was chosen both because of it's proximity to the disaster, but also because it was a smaller port, with less media outlets, and a more easily controlled population. The bodies of the dead could be dealt with in a more private and dignified manner.
Within hours of the sinking of the Titanic, The White Star Line chartered ships from the Commercial Cable Company and Western Union of Halifax to search for victims of the sinking. In regular duties, these cable ships were used to repair the underwater telegraph linking North America and Europe. Their crews were accustomed to working in adverse conditions in the cold and windy North Atlantic. The CS Mackay-Bennett, the CS Minia, as well as Canadian Government Lighthouse supply ship the SS Montmagny participated in the recovery efforts.
The first cable ship, the CS Mackay-Bennett left on April 17. It was assumed to have been well prepared, carrying 100 coffins, 100 tons of ice, an undertaker, and a chaplain. Coffins and other supplies ran out as the CS Mackay-Bennett struggled to cope with the overwhelming number of bodies found in the icy seas.
The recovery ship returned to the port of Halifax on May 6, 1912 having recovered 306 bodies of which 106 were buried at sea at the site of the wreckage. When the CS Mackay-Bennett returned to the port of Halifax on April 30, 1912, church bells rang as she entered the harbor, while local undertakers with their hearses were drawn up at the dockside to receive the dead.
The CS Minia left the port of Halifax on April 22, 1912 to relieve the CS Mackay-Bennett. Among her supplies, the CS Minia was loaded with 150 coffins and twenty tons of ice. Bad weather hampered her recovery efforts, but she managed to pick up fifteen bodies of which two were buried at sea. The CS Minia returned to the port of Halifax on May 6, 1912.
The SS Montmagny, a Marine and Fisheries vessel, also searched for victims of the Titanic. She recovered only four bodies, one of which was buried at sea.
The last vessel to recover a body was the SS Algerine. It picked up one body which was off loaded to the SS Florizel which returned to Halifax. This last body was buried in Fairview Cemetery on June 12, 1912.
Prior to burial, the bodies were taken to the Mayflower Curling Rink, which had been turned into a temporary morgue. There, 149 victims of the Titanic were prepared for burial in Halifax graveyards, or to be returned to their homes. Among the unsung heroes of the terrible tragedy were the clergymen, undertakers, coffin-makers, and gravediggers whose tireless efforts tried to bring quiet dignity to the grim situation.
Relatives and friends of the deceased flocked to the city to identify and claim the remains of their loved ones. Some bodies were prepared for transport to their homes, among them the well known American millionaire John Jacob Astor IV. Memorial church services and funerals were held throughout the city. Unfortunately, many could not afford to pay to take their relatives home.
An unexpected legacy of the sinking of the Titanic was the system of body identification which proved invaluable in 1917 when the city was devastated by the Halifax Explosion.
Halifax is home to many places of interest for the Titanic including the Fairview Cemetery, which holds the largest number of graves of Titanic victims of any place in the world.
Listed below are some of the major sites associated with the RMS Titanic and its sinking. Scroll to the bottom of the page there is a map marking where each location is in Halifax and Dartmouth.
The Maritime Museum of the Atlantic houses a world class exhibit of Titanic artifacts. The exhibit includes a deck chair from the Titanic, shoes from the "unknown" child (now identified), a first-class bathroom cabinet, and part of the carved balustrade from the first class lounge. The museum also houses the world's largest collection of wooden objects (wreckwood) from the Titanic. The wood was salvaged by the crews of the recovery vessels during the retrieval of bodies from the North Atlantic.
BIO, Canada's largest centre for oceanography, is home to the Geological Survey of Canada (GSC). This group performed the first tests on the steel plating of the Titanic and did research on the rusticle bacteria which grow on her remains. BIO's excellent display includes a model of the Titanic as she lies on the ocean floor, and photographs from the 1991 dive to the wreck.
One of Halifax's most prominent men, millionaire George Wright, was a victim of the sinking of the Titanic. In his will he bequeathed his beautiful home to the Local Council of Women, who maintain and periodically open it to the public.
The facade of this four-story brick office building remains the same as when the agents of the White Star Line worked to arrange burials and help identify passengers and crew of the ill-fated Titanic.
150 victims of the Titanic tragedy are buried in Halifax; more than in any other place in the world. White Star Lines deposited $7,500 into a Royal Trust account for the perpetual care of the graves of Titanic victims buried in Halifax cemeteries. The cemetary locations are as follows:
121 victims are buried here, the largest such burial in the world. The headstones are arranged in the shape of a ship's bow. The city of Halifax paid for the burials with the exception of one little boy. His plight had so touched the crew of the Mackay-Bennett that they paid his burial expenses themselves. Other passengers, including the secretary to the president of the White Star Lines, as well as some of the crew members and passengers of the Titanic are buried here.
Nineteen Titanic victims are buried near the entrance to the cemetery.
There are ten Titanic graves here, most unidentified. Among them is the grave of the fugitive Michel Navratil.