RMS Titanic. Part Two

Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada

May 2022 Part 2

As I enter the perimeter of Fairlawn cemetery, I see two ladies standing close together, one has got her arms folded and she is rocking back on the heels of her boots, the other has on a hat with ear flaps snugged down tight trying to shield herself from the morning chill. Something about the way they were just standing there is a bit curious and as I draw closer to them I call out a greeting, “Good morning, do you have any idea which direction the Titanic graves are?” The one lady unfolds her arms and points down the path. I nod in thanks, and I am just about to walk by when the other lady halts me in my tracks by adding, “Did you know the gravesite is designed in the shape of the bow of the Titanic?” They have my full attention now. “Wow! No, I did not.” I’m guessing they are custodians of the place and I shouldn’t miss an opportunity to learn something “What else can you tell me?” I ask.

It turns out the ladies are tour guides and they are waiting for a bus full of people that have signed up for guided walking tour of Fairlawn cemetery. I get the feeling they want to practice their repertoire on me before the group arrives and I welcome the information. I get three excellent facts I wasn’t aware of and I’m super happy for the info. Just then a bus pulls up to the curb making all three of us turn our heads to watch, as the doors push open and the driver steps down.. The ladies say they have to go meet their clients. I nod and add, “Thank you so much, ladies I hope you have a wonderful tour.” They walk towards the bus and I walk down the path.

The pathway up to the Grave sites.

Stopping at the information plaque, I read that Mr. James McGrady’s body was the last recovered. His headstone is given the number 330, as all those recovered were given a number until they could be identified. The ship The Algerine retrieved his remains from the water in mid-May nearly a month after the Titanic went down. That gruesome thought makes me pinch my lips and wring my hands. I find him quickly, a few headstones in from the bottom of the middle row. #330

To the right of Harold Reynolds is James McGrady, #330. His was the last body recovered in May of 1912.

The second tidbit of info the ladies told me was that even though Titanic director James Cameron professes the characters Rose and Jack were not based on real people, there was a Joseph Dawson on the Titanic and he is buried right here at Fairlawn Cemetery on the outside line of graves.

I continue walking up the middle row, stopping to read each headstone. I can hear muffled voices of the tour group but they are far away. The ladies had said there are quite a few famous people buried at Fairlawn and their tour would be starting at the other end near the mass graves from the Halifax Explosion. They always finish at the Titanic site. I will have plenty of time here by myself.

I come across the headstone of Ernest Edwards Samuel Freeman, a chief deck steward. I read about him at the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic on my post RMS Titanic, Part 1. The plaque at the front states his headstone was dedicated by J. Bruce Ismay, the son of founder of the White Star Line. Ismay survived the sinking, but Ernest, who is said to have been a favourite employee, did not. The dedication says he remained at his post seeking to save others regardless of his own life and went down with the ship.

Stopping at the tip of all the graves, I can now see that they are indeed laid out in the shape of the bow of a boat. I silently thank the ladies for telling me this, I wouldn’t have noticed the design on my own.

The third piece of information I’d received from the ladies was that the first grave had been erected in the memory of an unknown child whose remains were recovered after the disaster to the Titanic April 15th, 1912. In 2007 DNA finally identified the child as the son of Frederick and Augusta Goodwin. They had booked passage on a small steamer ship but when it was delayed they were given passage on the Titanic. All eight members of the family perished. There are toys left on this stone and an updated plaque added to the bottom finally giving him his name back: Sidney Leslie Goodwin September 9th, 1910 to April 15th 1912

About halfway down on the first row, I stop. “Ah there you are, J. Dawson.” Once again the tour guides’ golden nugget is revealed. “Well James Cameron, what do you have to say about this?” The deceased’s name was actually Joseph Dawson but for tombstone tourist and Titanic devotees, this is a must-see plot. “How haven’t I heard about this grave before today?” I mutter to myself as I snap a few photos. I see the tour group gathered not far away. I have about five more minutes before they will descend upon this area.

I stand silent looking out over the graves. It took less than three hours from the time it struck the iceberg for the ship to sink below the waves. It feels like an unfinished story, yet in my mind’s ear I can hear the voices of those standing out on the deck, in the cold night air, startled from bed, or pulled from a lounge. Gathering in small groups uttering words of pure disbelief, “It must be a drill this ship can’t be sinking.” Watching as some passengers are helped into lifesboats in the middle of the Atlantic in the dark.

In my post yesterday, I mentally pretended I was a cagey second-class passenger that drank and danced and cajoled her way into a lifeboat but in truth, I would have been so frightened, hoping a ship would come to save us before we went under. I can’t put myself in those final moments. It is easier to imagine I was one of the 705 people saved by the Carpathian, than be in the alternate world where I am one of 1500 others that are ripping doors off their hinges for something to float on. Dying in the frigid water alone and scared, long before the Carpathian arrives. Left behind for the MacKay-Bennett to find. It’s too sad. The movie version is the closest I ever want to get to what happened.

I may never come back to this site, it feels frozen in time. Stone after stone marked April 15th, 1912. I let it sink in that these aren’t the people who made it into lifeboats, these are the people who went in the water- either jumped in or got sucked under or never made it topside. For 111 years now people have carried out a pilgrimage to this place. No matter how long I stay, or how many others visit after me, the story is the same-they will never get rescued.

Fairlawn Cemetery

3720 Windsor St, Halifax, NS


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39 thoughts on “RMS Titanic. Part Two

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  1. I wouldn’t have caught that it looked like the bow of ship. I never considered what happened to the bodies after the ship went down. I didn’t know that some of them had been retrieved. And I certainly didn’t know that they were buried in Halifax. You have written two pieces of this terrible catastrophe that are both moving and informative.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you Laura, I appreciate your comments. It means the world to me. I just my shoulder replaced, and doubt I’ll be able to return to work as a fitness leader for the military, I don’t think I’m quite ready to retire I’m still a young 55 years old. So ive been seriously considering shifting to just being a writer. I feel I’ve honed my skills enough that I can do it.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m coming around very well get my staples out Monday then start physio. Thanks for reading. I enjoyed writing these posts. I could pour my emotions into it.


  2. Another well done write! I really liked how you merged the two parts together. This episode of history has maintained such a long interest from people. I hope your shoulder injury recovery goes well.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, Anita you are my hero. You’ve been everywhere. I’m glad you remembered this place. It’s a solemn spot to remember. I would have loved to visit there today.


    1. Hi my fellow bluenoser. I’m trying to learn Spanish, I’ve been planning a trip to Peru for 6 years. I prepared had everything booked then the pandemic. Going to go last year and the political demonstration. Now not sure when I’ll get there but my Spanish should be good eventually. Cheers

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh thank you so much. I really tried to place myself on the Titanic, it’s a hard thinking images. Going from excitement to disbelief, then to hopeful, it’s the acceptance of ones circumstance that was hard to create. I appreciate you read them both through. Thank you

      Liked by 1 person

  3. How fascinating, definitely new information for me – I have not visited that location, but the added info from the kind ladies is a definite bonus. Sad to think back to what that disaster entailed.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I found your statement the two lovers of the movie might never have really existed. Perhaps another movie should be made from a more accurate historical perspective.

    Liked by 1 person

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