I’ve had a copy of this book by journalist Alan Hustak for some time now and for some unknown reason never got into it. But after reading the story last week of the eight musicians that played as the Titanic went down, my appetite was whetted for more. Titanic: The Canadian Story was a delightful surprise. It grabbed me right from the start and flowed from one Canadian passenger to the next with an ease and pace that kept me intrigued.
With pictures of all the Canadians who were returning from Europe, their family backgrounds and financial status — mostly wealthy people in first class like Major Arthur Peuchen of Toronto, Harry Markland Molson, the Fortune family of Winnipeg, the Allisons with their two young children, and the honeymooners Bert and Vera Dick of Calgary — the characters virtually come alive. There were others on board heading for Canada from Britain, Ireland, and parts of Europe. A few were in second class but mostly in third or steerage.
Hustak has done exhaustive research and included excerpts from letters, postcards, interviews, as well as other sources of documentation, and describes the circumstances that put them on the Titanic — many were supposed to return on other ships put were switched because of a coal strike that prevented them from leaving dock — their time on shipboard, and what can be pieced together of the disaster itself and its aftermath — body retrieval, burials, tributes, attempted fraud, and mistaken identity. He includes a list of those buried in the three cemeteries in Halifax, Nova Scotia including many unidentified. He also includes a list of all the Canada-bound passengers, those lost highlighted in bold print.
This is a story well-told with a different perspective bringing new insight to the most famous disaster of the 20th century. It was a very fast read because the story just kept pulling me along with its interesting tidbits and beautiful prose. For anyone who considers themselves a Titanic “buff”, this book provides an important link to the Canadians who might have otherwise been forgotten. * * * * *