When they boarded the Titanic 100 years ago this week, none of the passengers could know they would soon be part of the most famous maritime disaster in history.

Of the 12 passengers who were headed to British Columbia on the ill-fated Titanic maiden voyage, just one arrived.

Her name was Hilda Slayter, she was 30 years old, and her dreams of fame as a professional singer had faded.

She survived the sinking and six weeks later, instead of heading to Portland as she had planned, she married a well-heeled farmer from Denman Island named Harry Lacon. A road named after him — Lacon Road — still runs along the island.

Slayter's story is on display in the main Vancouver post office, which has a display commemorating the B.C. connection to the Titanic disaster.

Canada Post, recognizing the Titanic story's universal appeal, is offering up two stamp sets on the anniversary of the voyage, which departed Southampton on April 10, 1912.

Historian Robert Gallagher said that the story is so captivating, because it affected so many.

"The importance of the Titanic is that its part of the history of the liners. And the ocean liners are what helped populate North America, in the tens of millions," Gallagher said.

Gallagher helped create a new Titanic display at the Vancouver Maritime Museum, an exhibit that features clippings from Vancouver and B.C. newspapers that covered the first hopeful words of the trip, and the grim reality of the disaster.

West Coast connections

One Titanic victim was headed right downtown, to the Winch Building on Hastings Street at Howe.

Robert Norman was an electrical engineer from Glasgow. The address of his Vancouver contact was found on his body.

Another Titanic victim once briefly stayed in Victoria and in Vancouver, and filmed a famous reel in 1907.

William Harbeck, an early movie maker, travelled the world filming cities from the front of street cars.


A partial list of items found on filmmaker William Harbeck's body. The 44 year old died on the Titanic along with a 24-year-old French travelling companion who was not his wife. (CBC)

He filmed one of those street car runs along Hastings Street in Vancouver, which is the oldest surviving footage of the city.

Five years later, Harbeck, 44, died on the Titanic along with a 24-year-old French travelling companion who was not his wife.

A man considered to be the founder of Prince Rupert, B.C., also died on the Titanic. Charles Hays ran the Grand Trunk railroad. Today, a statue dedicated to him sits in front of Prince Rupert's City Hall.


  • An earlier version of this story stated that the Titanic sank on April 12, 1912. It in fact struck an iceberg on April 14, 1912, and sank on the 15th.
    Apr 09, 2012 5:15 AM PT
With files from the CBC's Bob Nixon