Old Mill Heritage bids farewell to the Empress of Ireland exhibit this weekend

This weekend marks your last chance to tour the Empress of Ireland exhibit at the Old Mill Heritage Centre.

KAGAWONG—According to the proverb, “all good things must come to an end.” Such is the case for the Empress of Ireland exhibit at the Old Mill Heritage Centre in Kagawong. Visitors have until the Thanksgiving long weekend to view the artifacts from the wreck of the Empress of Ireland. Curator Rick Nelson says after that, the items will be crated and returned to the owners.

Known as Canada’s Titanic, the Empress of Ireland was an ocean liner that sank in the early morning hours of May 29, 1914. The ship foundered in less than 15 minutes following a collision in thick fog with the Norwegian collier Storstad near the mouth of the Saint Lawrence River. Over 1,000 souls lost their lives in what is still considered the worst peacetime maritime disaster in Canadian history.

Over the years salvage operations to the wreck, which lies about 130 feet below the surface, recovered numerous items from the ship’s interior that eventually ended up in the hands of private collectors and museums.

In 2021 Mr. Nelson was able to work out a deal with the Canadian Museum of History in Gatineau, Quebec, and a private collector from Montreal (Guy D’Astous) to display their artifacts in Kagawong. The museum there combined the two separate collections into one large exhibit featuring close to 100 artifacts from the wreck.

Mr. Nelson said he will be sad to see the exhibition decommissioned following its two-year display at the Old Mill Heritage Centre. “The empress exhibit had a good run, and our museum committee is grateful to have had the chance to share this epic story with the public.”

The Old Mill Heritage Centre in Kagawong remains open until Thanksgiving from Wednesday to Sunday from 10 am to 5 pm.