The Titanic tragedy lives on

Story of great ship's sinking spans the generations

GOOD things come in small packages, and in a private home in Edmonton three youngsters have assembled their own rudimentary museum chronicling the fatal maiden voyage of the Titanic.

Ten-year-old Jack, his six-year-old brother and a friend set up their Cubbie Museum on the two big shelves in a freestanding cabinet. Arrayed is their impressive assortment of memorabilia related to the 1912 sinking of the world’s ‘safest’ ocean liner. Jack’s parents and grandmother all  foster his curiosity about the sea disaster.

The sinking of the RMS Titanic occurred on the night of 14 April through to the morning of 15 April 1912 in the north Atlantic Ocean, four days into the luxury liner’s maiden voyage.

My grandparents sailed to Canada from Sweden one week ahead of the Titanic. That close call has made my siblings especially mindful of the event and driven Bob to research details from books, magazines, newspapers and the internet.

Through a chance visit to Jack’s grandmother’s private museum in Didsbury, Alberta (doesn’t every Grandma have a private museum?), Bob learned of the Cubbie Museum.

Bob was invited to meet Jack and his brother at their home in Belgravia, and to view the boys’ museum. Belgravia is a residential area in Edmonton southwest of the University of Alberta. But until they met Bob, they weren’t aware their area is named for Belgravia in London, one of the wealthiest districts in the world (according to Wikipedia) where lived J. Bruce Ismay, chairman of the White Star Line, owners of the Titanic.

After Bob’s introductory visit to Jack’s home where he met Mom and Dad, the boys arranged for him to address their school on the topic. He gave a 23-minute-talk to an engrossed audience (Jack’s membership totals some 25 kids, both boys and girls) and has agreed to take part in a longer follow-up question and answer session.

The boys are an excited bouncing encyclopedia of Titanic trivia, including the ship’s tonnage, time it struck the iceberg, minutes that elapsed before it sank, number of lifeboats, and which ships rescued how many survivors.

Bob was able to explain why the captain called to steer the ship in a direction which would seem to head it straight for the iceberg, but because of the way rudders were constructed in those days, steering the ship for instance to the left, actually headed the ship toward the right.

Following a review of the failures that sank the Titanic with more than 1,500 lives lost, marine regulations were upgraded to enhance safety. Enough lifeboats to carry all passengers led the improvements. The ship had sailed from Southampton for New York with lifeboat capacity for less than half its passengers, (did they truly believe they might never need lifeboats for all aboard?) yet many lifeboats were launched with empty seats. Chairman Ismay took advantage of a vacant seat when no one stepped up to occupy it but was forever ostracized for saving his neck while passengers and crew were left behind to drown.

Recently Bob came to visit me and I bunked him in a room housing more than 560 issues of National Geographic. Bob soon found one issue devoted to the Titanic. Well! He could not have been happier.

Every bedtime, his light stayed on into the wee hours while he reviewed a portion of the collection. He caught his return flight tilting toward a carry-on stuffed with as many National Geographics as the bag’s handles and  Air Canada’s weight restrictions permitted. Any issues pertaining to the Titanic are destined to fill gaps on the shelves of the boys’ Cubbie Museum.

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