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Empress of Ireland - The Bridge

by Dan Conlin, Curator

Time 0:01:13


We have a special case in the exhibit Empress of Ireland: Canada’s Titanic that features objects from the bridge of the ship Empress of Ireland. These are the control devices that allow the officers to safely navigate the ship. They’re on loan to us from the Canadian Museum of History, the Quebec Maritime Museum, and the Royal Alberta Museum. And they’re the ship’s helm, the engine room telegraph that controlled the speed, the telemotor that the helm was mounted on, the compass and then communication devices: a Marconi intercom and the voice tube. All these instruments—classic nautical pieces of hardware—allowed the officers on the bridge to control everything that went on in the ship: its speed, its direction, and hopefully, safely navigate it. And it’s these objects that the officers of Empress used that night to desperately control the ship and avoid collision from an oncoming coal ship that they knew was closing in on them in the fog. And a helm was turned, orders were sent to the engine room, desperately hoping to avoid tragedy, and in the end, unsuccessfully avoiding tragedy. So brought together, they’re a really compelling look at sort of the decision-making and the responsibility of the officers on the bridge that very fateful night in 1914 when [the] Empress of Ireland sank.

Return to our Empress of Ireland video gallery. →