The story of steamboating in the Canadian West comes to life in the voices of those aboard the vessels of the waterways of the Prairies.
Their captains were seafaring skippers who had migrated inland. Their pilots were indigenous people who could read the shoals, sandbars, and currents of Prairie waterways. Their operators were businessmen hoping to reap the benefits of commercial enterprise along the shores and banks of Canadas inland lakes and rivers. Their passengers were fur traders, adventure-seekers, and immigrants opening up the West. All of them sought their futures and fortunes aboard Prairie steamboats, decades before the railways arrived and took credit for the breakthrough.
Aboriginal people called them fire canoes, but in the latter half of the nineteenth century, their operators promoted them as Mississippi-type steamship queens delivering speedy transport, along with the latest in technology and comfort. Then, as the twentieth century dawned, steamboats and their operators adapted. They launched smaller, more tailored steamers and focused on a new economy of business and pleasure in the West. By day their steamboats chased freight, fish, lumber, iron ore, real estate, and gold-mining contracts. At night, they brought out the Edwardian finery, lights, and music to tap the pleasure-cruise market.
Published in 1912 within months of the sinking of the Titanic, this "memorial edition" of first-hand accounts by survivors, people in rescue boats, and other on-the-scene witnesses, offers heart-wrenching testimony about the great disaster, steeped in the sentiments of the day.
Surviving passengers recount heart-breaking tales of parting with loved ones, watching the great ship sink while the steadfast band played "Nearer, My God, to Thee," and floating helplessly for long hours on icy seas. The search for responsibility began amid the grief of widows and orphans aboard the rescue vessel Carpathia, with accusations of ignored warnings, reckless attempts at record-setting, and the woefully inadequate supply of lifeboats.
Enhancing the text are drawings of the ship's decks and luxurious interiors, along with numerous rare photographs of celebrity passengers, captain and crew, poignant images of survivors huddled in lifeboats, and many more striking scenes. Readers will be spellbound by the gripping, you-are-there quality of this unique volume and its remarkable vision of one of the great maritime disasters of history.
A century after it sank to the bottom of the St. Lawrence River, the ruin of the Empress of Ireland has remained one of the most devastating tragedies in maritime history. Logan Marshall's vivid and detailed reportage was the first account of the disaster and has endured as a classic chronicle of what happened that fateful night.
On May 28, 1914, the grand ocean liner, the Empress of Ireland, left Quebec on the St. Lawrence River, bound for an Atlantic crossing to Liverpool, England. At a few minutes before two o'clock on the morning of Friday, May 29, the Empress sighted the Norwegian collier, Storstad, at the same time as a heavy fog bank was descending. Despite warnings and evasive maneuvers, the Empress was struck on the starboard side by the Storstad, which penetrated its hull by twelve feet. The captain and crew had less than fifteen minutes to save their passengers before the ship slipped under the waves. Of the 1,475 aboard, 1,078 perished in a matter of minutes. It remains the worst peacetime catastrophe in Canadian history.
In addition to his unforgettable account of the sinking, Logan Marshall also presents a gripping retelling of the Titanic disaster, as well as other maritime tragedies. For decades, Marshall's account of the Empress of Ireland has remained the definitive version, comparable to Walter Lord's chronicle of the Titanic sinking, A Night to Remember.