|Major Doreen Sturge shares the Scripture reading
|Norm sings a solo
|Wreathes are laid
|Major Max Sturge speaks to the crowd
|Wendy and her Dad
|The Memorial for the Empress of Ireland
|My grandfather’s name listed as officers buried elsewhere
Yesterday afternoon Salvationists gathered at the Mount Pleasant Cemetery to remember those who lost their lives on the Empress of Ireland as well as Officers who have been Promoted to Glory since this same meeting last year. Majors Max and Doreen Sturge led the service with other participants including a solo by Wendy’s Dad.
It was well done and Max had a fascinating story to tell of one of the coal stokers who worked on that ship – who had also been a coal stoker on the Titanic and had survived. He later went on to get a job on the ill-fated Lusitania. He survived that as well according to Max’s research.
Part way through the service I could see some clouds pushing in and, as they had suggested the possibility of thunder showers, I went to get our big umbrella from the van. As I did a group of golf carts went by – a tour group it became apparent, who stopped down from our gathering. I heard the tour operator tell the tourists that they were witnessing a historic gathering. He knew that this gathering had been going on each May for 98 years, and he explained about the Empress of Ireland and the significance to Canada and the Salvation Army.
Indeed it was significant to The Salvation Army with the loss of most of the senior leadership and the Canadian Staff Band. 167 people in total in that group.
I was interested in the tour operators struggle to define what we were doing.. “this celebration or gathering, whatever it might be called has gone on since…”
Yes it is a celebration of sorts. A celebration that life on this earth is not the end. A celebration of God’s promise for Heaven. A celebration of the fact that God has been faithful to The Salvation Army and today we continue to make a difference for the Kingdom of God’s sake.
Here is yesterday’s report by Mike Filey in The Toronto Sun:
Cemetery last port of call ; Victims of sea tragedies memorialized at
Mount Pleasant gravesite
Sun May 27 2012
Byline: MIKE FILEY
Column: The Way We Were
Illustrations: 2 photos ; The caskets of 16 Salvation Army victims of the RMS Empress of Ireland marine disaster
are laid to rest in Mount Pleasant Cemetery on June 6, 1914. The total number of “Sally Ann” victims would
increase to 167, many of them members of the Army’s Canadian Staff Band. ; ; Toronto businessman Alfred
Clarke’s monument, below, in Mount Pleasant Cemetery. Note the reference to his being a victim of the sinking of
Last month in recognition of the 100th
anniversary of the April 15, 1912, sinking
of the White Star Line’s RMS Titanic with
the loss of more than 1,500 lives, TV
stations, newspapers, magazines and
Internet sites worldwide featured all kinds
of stories about the tragic event.
For my part, I devoted my April 15 Sunday
Sun column (100 years to the day!) to the
three Canadian survivors, Mary and Ethel
Gordon and Maj. Arthur Peuchen, who
now “lie at rest” in Toronto’s beautiful
Mount Pleasant Cemetery.
While the world was shaken by an accident
that the experts were sure just couldn’t
hap-p en, another enormous marine disaster
occurred a little more than two years later,
when on May 29, 1914, the Canadian
Pacific’s Atlantic steamer RMS Empress of
Ireland, bound for Liverpool from the Port
of Quebec City with 1,012 passengers and
crew, was rammed by the Norwegian coal
freighter SS Storstad in the St. Lawrence
River not far from the town of Rimouski.
The Empress sank in less than 14 minutes.
Of the 842 passengers, 167 were members
of the Salvation Army on their way to an
International Conference in London early
Many of those 167 were from Toronto.
Two years after the disaster an
awe-inspiring memorial to their memory
was erected in Mount Pleasant Cemetery.
As has taken place on the Sunday closest to
May 29 every year since the sinking, a
special service will again be held at the
memorial. This year’s will begin at 3 p.m.
and, of course, the public is invited.
As if these two marine disasters in such a
short span of time weren’t enough, a third
sinking of a large passenger ship was to
rattle the world’s ocean-crossing public less
than a year later, when the Cunard liner
RMS Lusitania was torpedoed by a
German submarine off Ireland’s southern
coast. This time 1,198 on board died. Of
those, 76 Canadians lost their lives.