SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Special Report

April 11, 2012

Visitors drawn to town where Titanic's dead are buried

Movie, centennial, return Halifax to spotlight

(Continued)

HALIFAX, Nova Scotia —

The Five Fishermen Restaurant and Grill — housed in the building where a funeral home handled the bodies of wealthier victims such as millionaire John Jacob Astor — is offering an April menu inspired by the Titanic's first-class fare.

And the maritime museum is mounting an exhibit of pictures and stories of the 150 Titanic victims buried in Halifax graveyards — 19 in the Catholic Mount Olivet Cemetery, 10 in the Jewish Baron de Hirsch Cemetery, and 121 in non-denominational Fairview Lawn.

Among items on display in the museum's permanent collection is a Titanic deck chair given to the minister who performed services on one of the ships that recovered bodies. The most touching artifact is a pair of shoes, donated to the museum by a descendant of a Halifax police officer. They belonged to the nameless child who came to symbolize the many children who died aboard the Titanic.

In 2002, Canadian researchers identified him as a 13-month-old Finnish boy, Eino Viljami Panula. But in 2007, DNA testing determined that he was in fact a 19-month-old English boy, Sidney Leslie Goodwin, who died with his entire family, including five siblings, as they were sailing to a new life in America.

The child's headstone remains among the nameless ones at Fairview Lawn, each inscribed: "Died April 15, 1912." The bodies were numbered as they were picked up; the numbers appear on the headstones of the known and unknown victims.

That the J. Dawson buried here is not the character in the movie did not stop the flow of mourners, said cemetery tour guide Blair Beed, a Halifax historian and grandson of an undertaker's assistant at the funeral home.

"After the movie I saw fathers with their daughters standing here crying. For two or three years that lasted. Instead of spring break fathers would bring their daughters here to see J. Dawson," he said.

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