Today, my siblings and I checked out the Titanic Exhibit at the Ontario Science Centre. I'm happy to report that the exhibit actually surpassed my expectations. In fact, I was impressed before I even stepped inside the exhibit because we were each given boarding passes with the names and details of people who were actually aboard Titanic. However, we weren't told whether we survived or not and wouldn't know for sure until we could check the passenger list, which was divided into two categories: the lost and the survivors.
I was a Miss Hilda Mary Slayter, aged 30. I was a second class passenger travelling alone. I was returning to Canada from England, where I had shopped for my trousseau for my upcoming marriage to Harry Lacon. Unfortunately, my $7,000 trousseau, which included a satin, opal and pearl wedding dress, was lost when the ship sank. My sister and brother were travelling first class, of course. My sister was a Miss Ethel Flora Fortune, a 28-year-old from Winnipeg. She was accompanying her entire family on a grand tour of Europe, postponing her wedding to rising Toronto banker, Crawford Gordon I. My brother was Mr. Charles Melville Hays, the 55-year-old general manager of the Grand Trunk Pacific Railway. He had travelled to England to secure financing for a second transcontinental railway in Canada. He was accompanied by his wife, Mrs. Clara Jennings Hays, his secretary, Vivian Payne, and his maid, Mary Ann Perreault. My brother seemed to think that because he had been given Japan's highest decoration, the Order of the Rising Sun, and had been offered a knighthood, he might survive. I told him none of that mattered because he was a man. Chances are he didn't survive. I knew my sister was the most likely to survive being a woman in first class, but I figured second class would have its advantages too. If I had been in third class, I would have definitely been worried.
I knew this exhibit would feature artifacts from the Titanic, but I was amazed by how much was recovered. One of the first things we saw was a bit of rope, the only rope found among the wreckage. There were also other parts of the ship, such as the main steering wheel stand (the wooden wheel had rotted away), bronze whistles from the forward funnels, some of the floor tiles from the first class dining room, one side of a bench that would have stood outside on the deck, and a megaphone Captain Smith might have used to direct the loading of the lifeboats. There were also some first and second class plates that were remarkably preserved, not to mention personal effects from passengers, such as brushes, articles of clothing like hats and gloves, and pieces of jewellery. There was even a third class toilet! Apparently, it was set to flush automatically because a number of third class passengers had never used one before! I think what shocked me the most was the currency that survived. At first, I couldn't see how paper could possibly survive, but many of the bank notes found were protected in leather wallets.
Another pleasant surprise came with the reproduction of certain areas of the ship. There was a first class corridor that I probably should have been barred from. However, the steward said he would let me pass just this once. We also got a peek at a very luxurious first class stateroom, a third class cabin that wasn't luxurious at all, and the boiler room. They even tried to recreate the night the Titanic went down. The lights were turned down in this part of the exhibit (to represent that chilly April night) and there were monitors playing a Discovery Channel documentary of the disaster. What probably affected me the most was the ice wall. It was supposed to give us an indication of how cold the water would have been that night. It was freezing when I touched it, and I could easily understand why so many passengers died of hypothermia. With the ice wall, the Discovery Channel documentary, and the various quotes and stories on the wall, I started to get pretty teary-eyed. What had been fascinating before just seemed sad and tragic. I was particularly struck by a quote they had from one woman who talked about buying two or three papers a day, hoping to find her son's name on the list of survivors, but her son was never found.
In the end, we discovered that my sister survived, though the real Ethel Flora Fortune lost her father and brother. Her stupid sister Alice had been warned by some kind of fortune teller or psychic that she should avoid travelling by sea because she would lose everything. Obviously, she didn't listen. I also managed to survive, but my brother (as I predicted) wasn't so lucky. He died on the Titanic. In fact, his secretary didn't survive either. My brother thinks this was because they were both having an affair, and the secretary (like Ida Strauss) refused to leave him. Considering that Mr. Hays was travelling with Mrs. Hays, this seemed pretty bold to me. I speculated that maybe the wife was having an affair, and my sister suggested that the maid could have been her lover. Poor maid. My brother couldn't find her on either list, so we're not sure what happened to her.
My brother and I both spent too much money at the Titanic gift shop that was conveniently located outside the exhibit. My sister was a little more restrained. She only bought a water bottle when my brother bought a t-shirt and a water bottle. I bought two books, one of which was on the exhibit itself. In fact, the book helped jog my memory when it came to writing this post.
As our ticket included the rest of the Science Centre, we checked out some other exhibits before watching the IMAX film, Titanica. The film focused on the exploration of the Titanic by the Russian submersibles, MIR 1 and MIR 2. There was also the usual background information on the disaster itself. I think I found the interviews with two of the survivors (women who had been children at the time) the most interesting part of the film. They showed Eva Hart happily gardening and serenading one of her French Bulldogs. Apparently, there had been a French Bulldog on the Titanic, and she fell in love with the breed. In the film, there were at least two or three French Bulldogs frolicking in the garden.
For some reason, a married couple brought two very young children to the film -- and sat right beside me, of course. I was able to block out the family for the most part, but I had to laugh when one of the little boys saw a battered suitcase on the bottom of the ocean and exclaimed, "Oh, a treasure chest!"
In a completely unrelated topic, I've made my very first ANIMATED icon! WOO HOO!:
You'll notice that it actually moves. This is due to ANIMATION. And I realize that some of you are probably rolling your eyes because you mastered ANIMATION when you were in kindergarten. However, this is a fairly major accomplishment for me, though, ironically, it actually took me more time to figure out screen caps than ANIMATION. Thanks to bakerybard's extremely useful PSP 7 manual, I was able to master ANIMATION quite quickly. *Rubs hands gleefully* I'm hoping to produce an ANIMATED icon with four frames this weekend. Well, when I'm not reading Harry Potter, that is.
Tee hee hee! More icons! More icons! More ANIMATED icons!