Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Voyages

I’ve always been drawn to boats of any kind, particularly ocean liners. My mother’s father was the captain of the Lizzie May, one of the last sailing ships in Britain, so I guess it’s in my genes. My mother told me about her sea trips with him to Ireland and France, and how he once brought her back a dog that she christened “Dandy.”
I never knew my grandfather because he died long before I was born. But we spent several months in his hometown of Connahs Quay in Wales when I was a little girl. I vividly remember the overnight train ride to Québec City, and then boarding the ship for Liverpool.
The Franconia II was a Cunard passenger ship (see postcard below) that was built in 1922 and retrofitted during the Second World War to transport troops. I think we were on one of the last trips the ship made before it was scrapped in 1955. Because of engine trouble, it took the Franconia twelve days to cross the Atlantic instead of the usual six, and a lot of people got seasick including myself.
Nana (my father’s mother) immigrated to Canada with her family over a hundred years ago, and I wished I’d asked her about their voyage while she was still alive. However, what I did discover by doing an Internet search of passenger lists was that Nana arrived via the Virginian on May 31st, 1907 as a fourteen year old. Apparently the Virginian was one of the ships that heard the distress signals from the Titanic but being 170 miles away was too far away to offer any assistance.
I can see now why people get hooked on history and genealogy. I’m sure I would too, if I just had more time. Maybe one of these days...

5 comments:

Ronna said...

Pretty cool to find out stuff like that. I had a cousin who found the actual passenger manifest for the ship my grandmother, her sisters and brothers and her mother came over on. They landed at Ellis Island and now they have a searchable website with photos of the listing (in very old fashioned handwriting) and even a photo of the ship.

martha brown said...

Big boats scare me. I could never travel on a big ship like that. I'd feel too trapped. I like little boats, like canoes and kayaks. I can't even handle the ferry ride from Maine to Nova Scotia. I'm fine on the Toronto Island ferry though. I think that it's because I feel that I can swim to shore......

wildflowr said...

I love cruise ships too. One of my great grandfathers was on a ship that sunk but he became a great hero for helping to save several of the passengers. Now that I think on it, I forget the details of the whole story but there was something romantic about it- I forget if he met his wife saving her or something like that but somehow she was involved... don't you hate it when you just can't remember the details? I need to call my family historian aunt now... or it will just bug me. Your pictures brought the story to mind (haven't thought about it for ages). thank you.

Leslie Jane Moran said...

As usual, I love the artwork that you've done with the photo. It is so special to hear the family history linked to this. Thanks for sharing.

emma said...

mom, I had no idea you crossed the atlantic on a boat. that is so cool. also, love the picture you did.