Posted by Kristie Wells on May 29, 2014 in Moments in Time

On this day in 1914, the ocean liner sank in Saint Lawrence River and took 1,012 lives with it, making it Canada’s worst ever maritime disaster during peacetime.ACOM_Empress

Nettie Beckstead


One of those lost was Adjutant Nettie Beckstead. Born on October 5, 1871, she dedicated her life to helping others, working with the Salvation Army for 23 years.

Nettie and 167 other Salvation Army representatives were en route to an international Salvation Army Congress in London. Sadly, only a handful survived. Weeks were spent searching for Nettie’s body, but she was never recovered.

Our research team was able to connect with Cynthia and Carolyn, who are great-great nieces of Nettie Beckstead. They came together on regarding the Beckstead family, sharing photos and more information with each other. They’ve met several times throughout the years and in 2012 journeyed together to their family memorial near Morrisburg, Ontario.

On May 25th, the pair went to the memorial for the Salvation Army representatives who lost their lives on the Empress of Ireland. The service was held at Mount Pleasant Cemetery in Toronto.

Also marking this anniversary was the trade magazine ‘MI Pro’ who featured the event [Edwardian style] on their front cover, telling the story of Albert Mullins [of Barnes & Mullins] who passed away in this tragedy.


Pick up a copy of MI Pro to read this article or check out the online version here.

It has been 100 years since this ship’s last journey, let’s take a moment of silence to remember Adjutant Nettie Beckstead, Albert Mullins and the 1,010 others who were lost in the RMS Empress of Ireland disaster. May they forever RIP.


If you would like to search for other passengers on this ship, please start here:





Kristie Wells

Kristie is Ancestry's former Head of Global Social Media and Online Customer Engagement.