Titanic tragedy hits close to home

Two Salmon Arm researchers raise awareness of the community’s connection to sinking of the Titanic

R.H. Fortune in front of his new house after losing relatives in the sinking of the Titanic. Photo is by Rex Lingford. The date on the licence plate is 1914.

R.H. Fortune in front of his new house after losing relatives in the sinking of the Titanic. Photo is by Rex Lingford. The date on the licence plate is 1914.

Unaware, two Salmon Arm researchers shared a mission last week to raise awareness of the community’s connection to an event that took place a hundred years ago in the North Atlantic Ocean. The date was April 15, 1912. Two relatives of Salmon Arm residents Mr. and Mrs. R.H. Fortune, were lost when the Titanic sank on its maiden voyage. One researcher came looking for proof. The other was asking if anyone was going to leak the story.

Both researchers were drawn by the 100th anniversary of the tragedy. Jean Jamieson, widow of history buff Rollie Jamieson, came into the archives for a visit. She told us about the home she lived in fifty-six years ago, its original owner, and the family affected by the tragedy. Jean lived in the special Arts and Crafts house constructed two and a half months after the Titanic sank. She described the house, located in the current Appleyard subdivision, as fit for a millionaire, “but had burned down some time ago, probably in the early sixties.”

Don Booth, son of A.D. Booth and grandson of the first Bank of Hamilton manager John Cousins Booth, was also interested. He did his research online and called in his question. “Is anyone doing anything about the connection Salmon Arm has to the sinking of the Titanic?” He knew all about the Fortune misfortune.

The family of R.H. Fortune was wealthy by Salmon Arm standards. The patriarch, Mark Fortune, was the son of a farmer, and a self-made man. Fortune was drawn to real estate speculation, spending several years in California before moving to Winnipeg. The official Titanic website says he had a bank account that matched his family name.

Mark Fortune married Mary McDougald in Manitoba and the couple had six children: Robert, Clara, Ethel Flora, Alice Elizabeth, Mabel and Charles Alexander.

Robert Fortune, the eldest son, made his way to Salmon Arm, marrying Olua (Alma) Bernadine Larson in Kamloops in 1906.The couple purchased Pat Owens’ place on Lakeshore Road in Salmon Arm. In December, Mr. W. Mason was contracted to build the foundation for a new home named Lake View. The white house with a stylish upper-floor dormers and veranda facing Shuswap Lake still stands. Described by the late Herb Turner as an Eaton’s catalogue or “package” house, the structure was probably delivered unassembled by CP Rail.

The Observer chronicles Salmon Arm events that kept Robert Fortune occupied. In 1910, he began shipping apples and won awards at the Canadian National Exhibition in Toronto. He hired strawberry pickers and sold jam. Sports minded, he sponsored at least one turkey shoot near the CPR tracks. Like his father, Robert dabbled in local real estate. Just a week after he subdivided the Lake View property, he got terrible news. His family was on the Titanic and the dead were unconfirmed.

Robert Fortune’s extended family was known to local residents; the father had visited the winter before the ill-fated holiday and younger brother Charles had been here playing cricket the year before.

The story goes that, in 1912, all but two of the children went to Europe on a family vacation. For whatever reason, Robert and Alma Fortune and Robert’s sister Clara didn’t take up the invitation. Returning to Canada, Mark Fortune booked first class cabins C-23-25-27. Each ticket cost £263.

One hundred years later, we can only imagine the terror of the passengers when the Titanic hit the iceberg. The women of the family were ushered into lifeboat 10. According to the website, one of the Fortune daughters gave her purse to her brother, Charles, for safe keeping and asked him to “look after father.”

The Salmon Arm Observer carried the news of the tragedy on the front page.

Titanic Disaster Felt Here, read the headline April 25, 1912.

“Their many friends in the district will sympathise with Mr. and Mrs. RH Fortune in their bereavement. Mr. Fortune losing his father and brother in the Titanic disaster. At first it was supposed that one sister had also perished, but personal messages sent to friends in Winnipeg are to the effect that the mother and three sisters were taken off the doomed ship in the [tenth] boat.”

Luckily for them, the Fortune women survived. The bodies of Mark and Charles Fortune were never recovered.

For more information, visit the website: http://www.encyclopedia-titanica.org/titanic_passenger_list/.


Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Youth from Vernon, Kelowna, Penticton and the Kootenays were able to dig into two evenings of online learning and connection through United Way Southern Interior B.C.’s <CODE>anagan program. (Submitted)<code> </code>
CODEanagan gives youth a chance to learn about technology

The youth, aged 12 to 21, built their own WordPress sites and developed blogging ideas

A rainbow shining on Kelowna General Hospital on May 12, 2020 International Nurses Day. (Steve Wensley - Prime Light Media)
New COVID cases trending down in Interior Health

24 new cases reported Thursday, Feb. 25, death at Kelowna General Hospital

A concept drawing released by the District of Sicamous shows plans for the replacement of the recently demolished Beach Park washroom facilities. (District of Sicamous image)
Province gets behind new washroom, concession for Sicamous Beach Park

New facility will be sloped, covered with grass, for public seating

A 2018 geotechnical review identified portions of Lakeshore Road between 10th and 20th Avenue at medium to high risk of catastrophic failure. (File photo)
Engineering work awarded in ongoing effort to stabilize busy Salmon Arm road

City of Salmon Arm awards preliminary design engineering for section of Lakeshore Road

Ranchero Deep Creek firefighters respond to a blaze involving two adjacent structures at a property off of Deep Creek Road on Sunday, Feb. 21. The buildings were believed to have been used as part of a cannabis growing operation, and RCMP are investigating. (Sean Coubrough/CSRD photo)
Ranchero Deep Creek firefighters respond to a blaze involving two adjacent structures at a property off of Deep Creek Road on Sunday, Feb. 21. The buildings were believed to have been used as part of a cannabis growing operation, and RCMP are investigating. (Sean Coubrough/CSRD photo)
Update: Fire at North Okanagan-Shuswap cannabis grow operation not suspicious

Ranchero-Deep Creek firefighters find two structures ablaze on property

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates B.C.’s COVID-19 situation at the B.C. legislature. (B.C. government)
B.C. reports 10 additional deaths, 395 new COVID-19 cases

The majority of new coronavirus infections were in the Fraser Health region

Cory Mills, Eric Blackmore and A.J. Jensen, all 20, drown in the Sooke River in February 2020. (Contributed photos)
Coroner confirms ‘puddle jumping’ in 2020 drowning deaths of 3 B.C. men

Cory Mills, Eric Blackmore and A.J. Jensen pulled into raging river driving through nearby flooding

Castlegar doctor Megan Taylor contracted COVID-19 in November. This photo was taken before the pandemic. Photo: Submitted
Kootenay doctor shares experience contracting COVID-19

Castlegar doctor shares her COVID experience

The booklet roots present day activism in the history of racist policies, arguing the history must be acknowledged in order to change. (CCPA)
New resource dives into 150 years of racist policy in B.C.

Racist history must be acknowledged in order to change, authors say

Agatha Mary Clarissa Miller, before she knew she would change literature. Photo Wikipedia
And Then There Were None

What book knocked your booties off when you were young?

A webinar on dealing with dementia will be held Wednesday, March 10, 2021 (Submitted)
Webinar on dementia scheduled for March 10

Okanagan residents invited to event on legal issues surrounding dementia

The BC SPCA is offering many chances for school-aged kids to learn about animal welfare and other animal topics. Pictured here is Keith, a three-month-old kitten seen on Nov. 4, 2020 at the Chilliwack SPCA. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
From pets to wildlife, BC SPCA offers animal education programs geared to youth

BC SPCA offering virtual spring break camps, workshops and school presentations

Nanaimo-raised singer Allison Crowe with director Zack Snyder on the set of ‘Man of Steel’ in 2011. Crowe performs a cover of Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah in the upcoming director’s cut of ‘Justice League.’ (Photo courtesy Clay Enos)
B.C. musician records song for upcoming ‘Justice League’ film

Allison Crowe’s close connection to director led to rendition of Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah

Migrant farm workers transplant jalapeno sprouts from trucks into the tilted soil at a farm. (Marcus Yam/Los Angeles Times)
‘They’re afraid’: Coalition sounds alarm over COVID vaccines for B.C.’s migrant workers

Though health ministry says anyone can get vaccinated, critics say barriers are keeping migrants from their dose

Most Read