Disasters Across Canada (Amazing Stories)
- Softcover126 pages
The unpredictable forces of nature have long been the cause of terrible disasters on sea and land, and in the air. Other disasters have been the result of human error. But all disasters have one thing in common - the tragic loss of life, bravery in the face of danger, and heroic rescue attempts. This collection tells the stories of some of Canada's worst disasters and, as a result, some of the country's most daring rescues.
Beyond its harbours, some would argue, the St. Lawrence River is no place for Sunday sailors. The river's currents clash constantly as outflow from the Great Lakes struggles against incoming frigid tides from the North Atlantic. Its dark, deceptive surface cloaks lurking rocks and is often battened by bone-chilling, blinding fog lasting days or, sometimes, only a few minutes. Despite these hazards, the St. Lawrence River's shipping lanes are among the busiest in North America, crowded with the commerce of the world's nations. In 1914, the SS Storstad was part of this commerce. Inbound from Nova Scotia, she was an unspectacular workaday collier ship carrying 9000 tons of coal consigned for Montreal. The 3600-ton Storstad churned resolutely through the water on a tight schedule driven by the demands of the steel industry's blazing Bessemers and coal furnaces in homes across Canada. The captain and crew expected the trip to be uneventful, as routine as a hundred others that had preceded it. By 1:30 a.m., the Storstad's captain, Thomas Andersen, had retired to his cabin. He left orders with his veteran helmsman, First Officer Alfred Tuftenes, to wake him if anything untoward occurred or, barring that, when the Storstad arrived off Father Point, Quebec, to take aboard a pilot. The night sky was clear, the river smooth, the wind no more than a light breeze. Then First Officer Tuftenes spotted the lights of another ship about 9.5 kilometres away and manoeuvred to pass it. It appeared to Tuftenes that the unknown ship did the same. Suddenly a fog bank closed vision, sealing the Storstad into the night. However, given what he'd seen, Tuftenes was confident the ships would safely pass each other. The voyage remained routine. Twenty minutes later, Tuftenes was horrified to see the unmistakable lights of a massive passenger liner looming out of the fog 30 metres dead ahead. One of the greatest Canadian marine disasters of all time was about to happen.
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