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Publication: (Toronto Star) add link
Issue: 13 April 2012
Title: Titanic memories from Canadians
Web Link: link

Titanic memories from Canadians

By Bill Taylor Columnist

Titanic survivors with a connection to Canada were a mixed bag of infants to autocrats, with an equally mixed bag of stories as they disembarked in New York from the rescue ship Carpathia.

Largely taken from contemporary accounts, these are some of them:

Clara Hays , 52, was returning home to Montreal with her daughter, Orian Davidson, 27, their husbands and a maid, Annie Perreault, 33. The two men died in the disaster and Davidson?s husband?s body was never found.

The family was well-connected and travelling as guests of White Star line managing director Bruce Ismay, who also survived the sinking.

Asked if she planned to claim damages from the line, Hays replied, ?When one is a guest, one does not sue one?s host.?

She died in 1955 and is buried in Montreal with her husband, whose body was recovered. Davidson died in Calgary in 1979.

Perreault, born in Saint-Majorique, Que., may not have returned to Canada with her employer. She was married in Trenton, N.J. in December 1912, and died in 1968, aged 90, in northern California.

Elizabeth and Madeleine Mellinger were mother and daughter en route to Vermont, where Elizabeth, 41, was to work as an au pair (although the term had not yet been coined) for a wealthy family. Her husband left her when she was expecting Madeleine, 13.

After surviving the Titanic, the two returned to England, but emigrated to Canada in 1915. Madeleine married Welland banker David Mann. In 1974, she told the Toronto Star of shivering in a drifting, half-empty lifeboat and hearing cries for help: ?They told me the people in the water were singing, but I knew they were screaming.?

Elizabeth died in 1962 and her daughter in 1976. Both are interred in Welland.

Swiss-born Emma Bliss was a stewardess on the Titanic. She seems to have lied about her age when she signed on, saying she was 40. When she died in 1959, her death certificate indicated she?d knocked off five years.

Bliss settled here after the disaster, and, in 1939, attended a survivors? reunion dinner at the Royal York Hotel along with Elizabeth Mellinger and Madeleine Mann. She?s buried in Toronto?s Prospect Cemetery.

Trevor Allison couldn?t tell his own tale. He was only 11 months old when he left the Carpathia, in the arms of Major Arthur Peuchen.

Peuchen was a friend of Trevor?s parents, Hudson and Bess Allison, who died in the shipwreck along with the child?s nurse, Alice Cleaver. The family came from Chesterville, Ont., near Ottawa.

Trevor was born in Montreal, but baptized in England during a family business trip. Raised by an aunt and uncle, he died in Maine of ptomaine poisoning. He was 18.

His father?s body was recovered from the ocean and the two lie side-by-side in a Chesterville cemetery.

Arthur Peuchen became a controversial figure after the disaster, which was his 40th Atlantic crossing.

A few days shy of his 53rd birthday when the ship went down, he was born and raised in Montreal, but had homes in Toronto and on Lake Simcoe. He was a wealthy man.

After the sinking, he was loud in his criticism of the Titanic?s commander and crew. This backfired when it was rumoured that he lied about his prowess as a yachtsman to gain access to a lifeboat.

Peuchen died in 1929 and is buried in Mount Pleasant Cemetery. In 1987, his wallet, containing cards and street-car tickets, was recovered from the ocean bed.

Mary Howard , 27, was a laundry worker coming to join her brother, Ernest, in Toronto, where she hoped to work as a nanny. She reportedly stayed instead with two sisters in upstate New York.

She died in 1958 and is buried in Medina, N.Y., not far from the Canadian border.

Albert and Vera Dick were married on May 31, 1911, the day the Titanic was launched.

Born in Winnipeg, he was 31 when the ship sank. Vera, born in Calgary, was almost 18. They were returning with furniture for their new home in Calgary.

One story has it that Vera ?saved? Albert by clinging to him as she was about to get into a lifeboat. He was pushed in with her. But his reputation suffered at home and there was gossip that he?d dressed as a woman to escape.

He died in 1970 and she in 1973. Both are buried in Banff.

Hélène Baxter , the wife of a wealthy Montrealer, was returning with her son, Quigg, and daughter, Mary Douglas, from a European vacation.

Quigg saw his mother and sister into a lifeboat and handed his mother a silver brandy flask to help keep her warm. Among her last words to him were a scolding for his drinking habits. His body was never found.

Douglas told reporters she heard shots fired during the loading of the lifeboats: ?We could hear revolver shots all over. We heard that several people had been shot.?

Baxter died in 1923 and is buried in Montreal. Douglas moved to California several years later and died there in 1954, a nephew said, ?surrounded by mothballs and memories.?

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