Halifax’s Titanic Connection for Travel Photo Thursday

Posted by on Apr 3, 2014 in Canada, Destinations, Featured, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Travel Photo Thursday | 54 comments

This week I’m taking you back to Nova Scotia, and to Halifax’s Titanic connection. Welcome to our 171st week of Travel Photo Thursday. Spring has arrived in Korea, and my plan is to get out and get some cherry blossom and magnolia shots before they are all but a beautiful memory. This a far cry from Halifax, where my poor Dad is still suffering through an unusually cold and nasty winter.

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Halifax’s role in the aftermath of the sinking of the Titanic is a sad one. Three ships from the city were involved in the grim task of recovering victims from the cold, bleak North Atlantic. Over 100 of the bodies plucked from the sea found their way to Halifax, and buried in three of the city’s cemeteries. Fairview Lawn Cemetary is the final resting place for one hundred and twenty-one of the Titanic’s casualties; more than any other cemetery in the world.


Titantic Grave Site, Fairview Lawn Cemetary


Titanic Headstones

Most of those buried here are memorialized with small, gray granite markers etched with a name and April 15, 1912; the date the Titanic sank.


Titantic Victim - Paulson


Of course, not every victim was identified. Nearly a third of the headstones contain only the date and a number unique to each body.


Unnamed Titantic Grave.jpg


Thankfully, not all of the victims remained unidentified,  and some of these families did erect larger headstones in remembrance of their loved ones.


Titanic Victim, Alma Paulson


Remember Jack Dawson?

J Dawson, Titanic


When the movie was released in 1997 fans came to believe that this was indeed Jack Dawson’s final resting place. Moviegoers showered the site with flowers and ticket stubs. Alas, dear Jack was not put to rest here. Researchers have discovered that this is the grave of Joseph Dawson, an employee in the Titanic’s boiler room.


Titanic Gravesite


One of the better known grave markers, it was erected in honor of “The Unknown Child,” whose body remains unclaimed. His burial was paid for by sailors from the cable ship that recovered his body from the disaster site, the CS MacKay-Bennett. In 2002 the child was identified as Eino Viljami Panula. However, additional forensic testing proved that identification incorrect, and the child’s true identity is Sydney Leslie Goodwin. From England, his entire family perished in the Titanic sinking.


The UnKnown Child


Titanic Graves, Fairview Lawn Cemetary , Halifax, Nova Scotia


As you can see from the photos, the Titanic victims are not forgotten. Fresh flowers and other gifts are often lovingly laid on the headstones. This was one of the most touching.



Traveler’s Tip

The cemetery is open seven days a week. I would recommend visiting during daylight hours when there isn’t a lot of snow on the ground. Admission is free, although, believe it or not, when the cemetery became a popular tourist attraction there was a suggestion that the city charge an entrance fee. City residents nipped that idea in the bud!


The star marks the location.

The star marks the location.


You can also choose a guided tour.


This is the 171st edition of Travel Photo Thursday. You can browse the archives here.

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  1. How very interesting (and sad). When I think of disasters like the Titanic I never think about the aftermath or the clean up or what happened afterwards. How sad that Halifax played such a maudlin part, but interesting to have so many graves in the cemetery telling stories of different people from around the world.

    • Hi Johanna! It is an interesting cemetery, and I think it has played a big part in giving some families closure.

  2. Such a sad place – but at least they have a “place” preserved in history where people can still go there to leave flowers and messages. How touching and sad, the “unknown child”.
    On a lighter side – I work in a suburb of Halifax but in Western Australia.

    • Hi Jill! I had no idea that there was a Halifax in Australia. I guess it’s our historical connection to the Brits. I know that there is a Halifax in England, too.

  3. How sad – but at the same time it’s lovely that there is that memorial there. I had no idea so many of the bodies were recovered, or that there was anywhere like this. It must be interesting to see all the names from all around the world, and imagine their stories.

    • Hi Molly! I agree, it is a lovely memorial and these people are still remembered a hundred years later.

  4. So sad and beautiful at the same time. On a different note, I am really jealous about the cherry blossoms. I would love to witness them one day.

    • Hi Denise, The blossoms are lovely, and I hope you get to see them one of these days!

  5. How hauntingly sad, particularly the unknown child, but amazing that people still leave fresh flowers and notes after more than a century.

    • Hi Phoebe! Yes, it is heartwarming that people are still remembering a hundred years later.

  6. I love that people still visit and leave notes and flowers…it’s a nice memorial and way to pay tribute to those lost.

    • Hi Jess! I was surprised at the flowers and gifts, and touched.

  7. I’m a Titanic fanatic. We visited this graveyard last August!

    • Hi Jackie! You probably visited the museum as well. They have a great Titanic exhibit.

  8. Such a poignant story and I can well imagine how real the Titanic disaster must feel when one walks around the cemetery. Can’t help but think too of the Swiss Air disaster further down the coast. There the link to the passengers was completely “coincidental” and probably so for Halifax’s link to the Titanic. I assume the Titanic was headed to Halifax but probably most passengers were headed inland; many to a new life presumably. Makes one think of how a lot of our forebears got to this great country and the risks and total commitment a lot of them made. Thanks for the thought provoking post.

    • Hi Leigh,

      Actually, I don’t think the Titanic (like the Swiss Air fight) would have ever had a link to Halifax. I’ve read that it was heading to New York.

      Last summer I visited the Swiss Air memorial that is close to Peggy’s Cove. Did you visit when you were at Paggy’s?

  9. Hi Nancie, I didn’t realize that Halifax played a big role in the recovery of Titanic’s victim and that there’s such cemetery for them. I also had no idea that there were that much body recovered. It’s good of the city to give them proper burial places. I’m touched that after all these years, they are still loved and remembered.

  10. I didn\’t know there was such a strong connection to Halifax and the Titanic. What a somber reminder of that tragedy. It\’s heartwarming to know they are remembered and the locals make it a point to honor them.What a beautiful tribute!

  11. Oh what a moving post, Nancie. Wonder if something similar will mark the recent Malaysian flight. It is Friday morning in Greece – I guess I made the linkup rather late (love these new timezones) I will read others links later today – it is good to ‘be back’ among you all.

    • Hi Jackie! Good to see you here. I’m sure you must be enjoying Greece! I hope something is done to commemorate the recent crash. Nova Scotia has also erected memorials for the Swiss Air tragedy.

  12. that’s crazy that they ended up all the way in Halifax, Canada. I wonder how they knew that some of the unidentified bodies came from the Titanic wreck, though…? just because of the timing, I guess…

    Your photos truly captured the sorrow of that night. Beautiful…

    -Maria Alexandra

    • Hi Maria! The Titanic sunk off of the coast of Newfoundland. The Halifax ships responded to a request for help.

  13. It is lovely that there is a cemetery for the people lost on the ship. Joseph benefiting from a film made many years later is a weird twist. It is nice that he gets lots of flowers whatever the reason.

    • Hi Jan! It’s like a cult following 🙂

  14. This is a beautiful tribute to those who died in the Titanic. The photos simple but moving. Well done.

    • Hi Marcello! Thank you. I am glad you liked it 🙂

  15. Somber and uplifting at the same time. I’m surprised to read that there was an unknown child and the sailor’s kindness. Makes me wonder about those aboard the Malaysian flight. Hopefully, they’ll think of an appropriate to honor them so their families have something to hold on to, so to speak.

    • Hi Marcia…It’s always interesting how people respond to tragedy. Many of the Titanic victims were simply “swallowed” by the ocean. I’d like to think that those who were found gave some closure to all involved.

  16. Hi Nancie, I never even knew that a cemetery existed for the Titanic and even if, I would not have expected it in Halifax. But I guess it makes sense when the rescue ships actually came from there. What a great place to visit, even if it must be quite sad and eerie to walk around. Luckily they didn’t decide to charge for the visit, that would have seemed quite inappropriate…

    • Hi Dennis! Thanks for linking up to Travel Photo Thursday.
      I think the suggestion to charge admission to the Titanic graves came from a city councillor. The public immediately went into uproar mode, and that idea never surfaced again! 🙂

  17. That’s quite a modern looking graveyard – a little like some of the Commonwealth War Graves I’ve seen. I knew that the victims were buried in Halifax, but I’d not seen the graveyard until now

    • Hi Lis…It’s still a “working” graveyard. Halifax has strong British roots, so that’s probably why the British influence.

  18. I didn’t realize this cemetery was in Halifax. Must have been very poignant to visit~

    • Hi Irene! I’m from Halifax, so not the first time I have visited. However, it’s always a thoughtful visit, and interesting to see how people continue to honor the graves.

  19. That Paulson family tombstone is so sad. As a mom, one of my fears is having to usher my kids through a disaster that we won’t survive. I’m glad to know that people still visit these graves and pay tribute to the victims. I read an article recently wondering if Perth was going to do for the missing Malaysian airlines flight what Halifax had to do for the Titanic — be the central recovery place for all those poor, lost lives.

    • Hi Michele. I can’t imagine anything worse than trying to survive a disaster, and when we travel a lot we are definitely at an increased risk. Good chance that Perth will be involved.

  20. That’s quite a piece of history, Nancie, and is well documented in your fine series of images. So long ago, but it’s saddening to see the young ages on that tombstone.

  21. I have heard a lot about that place. It just breaks my heart that there are still some without a name.

  22. I think a visit to the Titanic Grave Site in Halifax would be both interesting and sobering. I’m impressed with how maintained the cemetery looks in your photos.

    • Hi Donna. They do maintain the graves, and especially since the Titanic movie put Halifax and the cemetery on the map. I was still living in Halifax when the movie was released, and people were amazed at the interest it stirred up about Halifax. Some even suggested that the cemetery should be charging admission! Thankfully, that never happened!

  23. Such a poignant reminder of tragedy, and surprising to see the notes and cards that are still left. Very touching.

    • Hi Betsy. The graves receive a lot of visitors, both in groups and alone. There are still people looking for the identities of the unknown. Every once in a while someone identifies one of them.

  24. What an interesting post. I had no idea. To be frank, I never thought about what became of the bodies of the hundreds who died when the Titanic sank. Thank you for this information, told so well. I would love to visit the cemetery one day.

    • Hi Donna. Thanks! If you ever get to Halifax, be sure not to miss it.

  25. This was for me fascinating reading. I did live in Halifax for a while a long time ago while in the Canadian Navy but I never knew about the Titanic connection despite my strong interest in the story. Your posting gives me another great reason to head back to the Atlantic provinces sooner rather than later.

    • Hi Denis. Haligonians have always talked about the Titanic and our role in the disaster. However, interest never really peaked until the movie was released. All of a sudden the outside world was fascinated with Halifax’s role in the disaster. When you do get back to Halifax, be sure to visit the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic as well. They have a lot of interesting Titanic artifacts.

  26. What a fascinating and yet grim place to visit. I love that people still visit this place to commemorate this tragic event.

    • Hi Noel. Researchers are still trying to identify the unknown, and every once in a while they are successful.

  27. Saw the cemetery on a grey day a few years ago, very moving experience.

    • Hi! I’ve been there on a few gray days (my biological mother is buried in the cemetery), and a cloudy/gray day makes for a very different atmosphere.

  28. I didn’t get to the Titanic grave site when I was in Halifax, but it was there that I first learned of the connection. I had dinner at the Five Fishermen which was a morgue for the bodies recovered from the Titanic. It was very eerie to think of that while dining.

    • Hi Cathy. That’s right! I’ve eaten a few meals at the Five Fisherman. Thankfully, have never seen a ghost! 🙂

  29. Only well bred Canadians would nip the idea of charging for admission to the cemetery in the bud. Many other places in the world would happily do so. It seems a little ghoulish at times, but I find historical cemeteries fascinating and have been known to “haunt” them on my travels.

    • Hi Suzanne. I love cemeteries, and always spend time in them during my travels. Yes, was so glad that we never started charging admission. That would have been awful. 🙂


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