Dr. James Frederic Grant, a 1913 graduate of McGill University, was interning at the Montreal General Hospital when the chief physician suggested that some fresh sea air would be good for his health.
As a result, he was appointed ship surgeon for the Empress of Ireland, a 550-foot luxury steamer that was sailing from Quebec City to Liverpool.
But his journey on the sea tragically ended on May 29, 1914 when the Norwegian freighter, the Storstad, collided with the Empress during intense fog. Within fourteen minutes, the luxury steamer sank to the bottom of the St. Lawrence River and 1,012 of the 1,477 persons on board perished.
Dr. Grant was one of the fortunate survivors as he managed to squeeze through a porthole and escape. He was picked up by a lifeboat and brought to the Storstad, where he worked tirelessly tending to the survivors’ wounds and easing their shock.
Let us remember Dr. Grant’s heroic acts on this, the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Empress of Ireland.