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Empress of Ireland - The Porthole

by Dan Conlin, Curator

Time 0:01:17


This creepy shattered porthole is the first thing that visitors to our exhibit, Empress of Ireland: Canada’s Titanic, see as they come through the door. It’s a shattered porthole from the actual ship, RMS Empress of Ireland. It—Actually the glass broke as the ship sank and settled on the bottom of the Saint Lawrence River. It’s a compelling object; it’s also a very rare one. This was a high-tech porthole for 1914 when the disaster happened. It has an automatic sort of flotation shut device on it, made by the Thomas Utley Company of Liverpool. And it’s one of only five known Utley portholes in the world. It’s also, as you can see, displayed in a really arresting manner. Our partners at the Canadian Museum of History created this wonderful case that has a simulated muddy seabed of the Saint Lawrence River, so it looks like it’s actually resting on the site of the wreck. So it greets visitors as they come through the door. And we’re enhancing that with a ripple-y, watery light effect as you come through to give you a sense of the melancholy tragedy of a ship wreck and the trauma of the Empress of Ireland. So it’s an appropriate welcoming object to our exhibit, Empress of Ireland: Canada’s Titanic.

Return to our Empress of Ireland video gallery. →