SS Empress of Ireland Monument
Plot R, Lot 21
Mount Pleasant Cemetery, Toronto
Early in the morning of May 29, 1914, the Canadian Pacific ocean liner Empress of Ireland was struck by a Norwegian coal boat and in less than fifteen minutes the huge vessel disappeared beneath the cold waters of the St. Lawrence River. Aboard the Empress were 1,477 passengers and crew members. When the final death toll was calculated, it was discovered that only 450 passengers had survived the disaster. Of the 1,207 who has died, 840 were passengers, 33 more than the number of passengers who had perished on the ill-fated Titanic a little more than 25 months earlier.
On board the Empress of Ireland when she sailed from Quebec City on May 28, were 192 Salvation Army personnel on their way to the Army’s World Congress in London, England. One hundred and sixty-seven Salvationists would never get there. In addition to the Salvationists from Toronto who were lost, 24 Torontonians also drowned. The few Salvation Army victims that were found after the disaster were returned to Toronto and a moving service was held in the old Mutual Street Arena on June 6. Following the service, a massive funeral cortège wound its way through crowd-lined streets to Mount Pleasant Cemetery where 16 victims were interred in the Salvation Army plot. Over the following weeks, the bodies of another six Salvation Army victims were found and buried in the plot, for a total of 22. In 1916, an impressive monument designed by Salvation Army Major Gideon Miller, sculpted by Emanuel Hahn and dedicated to those Salvationists who lost their lives, was unveiled. Every year since the disaster, the Army holds a special service of remembrance, latterly on the Sunday closest to that awful May 29.
The Salvation Army has a number of plots in Mount Pleasant Cemetery. The first recorded burial in any of the many Salvation Army plots occurred on May 26, 1885 when Mrs. Emily Constable, who died on February 22, 1885 and was originally interred in a special section of Plot M that had been purchased for the Army by William Gooderham, of Gooderham Worts fame, was re-interred in Plot R, Lots 23 and 24. There are approximately 750 Salvation Army officers interred in the five Salvation Army plots in Mount Pleasant Cemetery.
Mount Pleasant Cemetery: An Illustrated Guide
Second Edition Revised and Expanded