Abbotsford man to attend ceremony for Canada’s worst maritime disaster

Bruce Ivany's grandfather survived the sinking of the Empress of Ireland in 1914, but three family members perished.

Bruce Ivany's grandfather Ernie Green

Bruce Ivany's grandfather Ernie Green

An Abbotsford man will attend a ceremony in Victoria on Thursday to mark the 100th anniversary of “Canada’s Titanic” – the sinking of the RMS Empress of Ireland on May 29, 1914.

Bruce Ivany (in photo at left) will cut the ribbon to open an exhibit at the Maritime Museum of B.C. that will feature artifacts from the ship.

More than 1,000 people drowned when the Empress of Ireland, an ocean liner, sank after it collided with the Norwegian coal freighter the SS Storstad in the Saint Lawrence River.

This was Canada’s worst maritime disaster.

Only 465 passengers survived the collision, and one of them was Ivany’s grandfather, Ernie Green, who was 19 years old at the time. Green lost his mother, father and sister in the tragedy.

Ivany said his grandfather survived because he was an excellent swimmer.

He committed himself to a lifetime of religious service after surviving the wreck, going on to become a Salvation Army officer/pastor. His two daughters, one of whom is Ivany’s mom, also became Salvation Army officer pastors.

Ivany spent 34 years in the public school system, finishing as assistant superintendent in Abbotsford.

He is currently a professor in the school of education at Trinity Western University and has been a lifelong member of the Salvation Army.

Two of his siblings will be participating in 100th anniversary events in Rimouski, Quebec, site of the sinking.