As Canadians remember the sinking of the Titanic a century ago this weekend, a few eyebrows may be raised when people learn about Saskatchewan’s unique connection to the great ocean liner disaster.
The province is home to the only known place in Canada to be named after the ship. The tiny community of Titanic, nestled between Duck Lake and Fort Carlton, was formally known as Mourey, until it was renamed in 1912, shortly after Titanic sank.
Mourey was the name of the community priest at the time and was also the name of the post office that was established seven months before the Titanic disaster.
“In the weeks following the sinking of that big ship, there were several dozen places across Canada that applied to have their name changed to Titanic,” said Bill Barry, author of the book People Places.
J-E Dionne was the postmaster who made the application, Barry said.
“His application to change his name to Titanic was the first one that arrived on the desk of the postmaster general in Ottawa and so it was granted.”
But there is more to the story.
Father Maurice Fiolleau with the Roman Catholic Diocese of Prince Albert, spent part of his childhood growing up in Titanic. His great uncle was a postmaster before his aunt took over the duties until the post office closed in 1967.
He explained part of the reason for changing the name was it was being confused with another community with the same name.
“The priest was Father Mourey, who was the pastor for the people that had settled in that area. He had also been a pastor in southern Saskatchewan so there was two communities by the same name in Saskatchewan … and the mail would get mixed up between the southern Saskatchewan Mourey and the one by Duck Lake.”
“The community of Mourey decided to hold a contest to rename the area,” Father Maurice said.
“It was shortly after the Titanic had sunk, in April of 1912, that they held this contest and one of the names that was submitted was Titanic - and that’s the one they chose."
The history of Titanic, Saskatchewan begins several decades before the renaming took place. The area is located on the Carlton Trail and consisted of farming families. Aside from the post office, there was a church, St. Anne of Carlton, and a school, St Jean Baptiste.
The school was closed in 1959 followed by the church four years later. Titanic disappeared from the map shortly after 1967 when the post office permanently closed.
Today you’ll find the cemetery and a grotto where the former church once stood.
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