A Forgotten Tragedy
The SS Princess Sophia leaving Victoria, loaded with troops bound for the front in the Great War. Image source: BC Maritime Museum Archives.
On 25 October 1918, the S.S. Princess Sophia, a Canadian Pacific Railway liner, sank into the Pacific ocean. All passengers and crew perished. Of some 353 deaths, approximately thirty were Victoria residents.
Front page of the Daily Colonist. Published 27 October 1918.
The sinking of the Princess Sophia has been heralded as one of the worst maritime disasters in Pacific Coast memory, yet the tragic event has not been remembered by the public of Victoria. Some might argue that we cannot expect public memory to keep all tragic events alive, especially when they occurred some ninety-six years ago. However, maritime disasters such as the Titanic remain fresh in our minds. Even 102 years after its sinking, we commemorate the Titanic in media, films, and popular museum exhibits, regardless of whether or not its sinking directly affected us or our ancestors.
This site is a micro-historical look at the sinking of the S.S. Sophia. Our purpose is to not only present the facts, but also to engage public memory in an investigation of why this event has been buried in the annals of history, lost to all but those who search for it. Through a critical look at the cultural context of the war-time era – a period where the citizens of Victoria faced loss on two main fronts: the Great War and the Spanish influenza – we hope to understand why the Sophia disaster has been submerged in memory.