September 1913 - Empress of Ireland
Sep. 30, 2013
When the Empress of Ireland arrived in Quebec City on September 11 at 4:15 p.m., docking manoeuvres took only 15 minutes! The process could actually be carried out even faster if port regulations did include speed limits! There were 1,573 people aboard, including 75 immigrants, members of the Salvation Army.
On September 17, Canadian Pacific announced Captain John Vernon Forster's retirement. He began working on the Empress of Ireland during the ship's fifth voyage in October 1906 at the age of 32.
Born in Sunderland in 1874 on the shores of the North Sea, he began working for Elder Dempster and Co. in 1889. In October 1898, he began sailing the St. Lawrence and carried on after the company was purchased by Canadian Pacific in 1903. He worked aboard the Lake Manitoba, the Mount Temple, and the Lake Erie, among others. He has a reputation as a capable and careful captain. To prepare young officers for their future responsibilities, they are transferred frequently, but many crew members had only ever worked under Captain Forster. The announcement of his retirement came as a surprise to many.
Captain Forster completed 84 round-trip voyages aboard the Empress of Ireland and transported close to 166,000 people. Now 39, he will pursue his career on dry land as a Canadian Pacific superintendent in Liverpool. James Turnbull will take over command of the Empress of Ireland.