1912 Titanic Disaster Claims Three Westmount Quebec Citizens

 By Robert J. Galbraith for the Westmount Independent

 It was heralded as the ‘ship of dreams,’ but for three members of the Allison family of Westmount, it would turn out to be the ‘ship of death.’

By April of 1912, Hudson Joshua Creighton Allison had risen to become one of Westmount’s richest residents as a broker. Married to Bess Daniels, originally of Milwaukee, the couple had two children, two-year-old Loraine and eleven-month-old Hudson Trevor.

The young family lived at 464 Roslyn Avenue (which still stands), though as the family fortunes skyrocketed, they were having a more spacious home built on Belmont Avenue.

Apart from his stock holdings, Allison had been investing in the finest breeds of cattle and horses at the new Allison Stock Farm, near Chesterville, Ontario, an hour west of Montreal.

Life for the Allison’s of Westmount couldn’t get much better. In March of 1912, the young family of four travelled to Britain on a business trip/extended vacation. Taking an excursion to the Scottish Highlands, they purchased horses and stock for their farm. At the same time, they bought new furnishings for their Belmont home and recruited a chauffeur, a cook and two housemaids for the children.

On April 10, 1912 they boarded the White Star Line luxury passenger liner, RMS Titanic, in Southampton, for their return home.

During the evening of April 14, they sat down for what they didn’t realize would be their last dinner, with their good friends, Toronto millionaire Major Arthur Peuchen and Montrealer, Harry Markland Molson, (the richest Canadian on board).

At 11:40pm that evening, the unsinkable Titanic struck an iceberg in the North Atlantic, 375 miles south of Newfoundland. Two-and-a-half-hours later, in the wee hours of April 15th she had vanished, slipping 3,784 metres below the bone-chilling waters of the North Atlantic. Of the 2224 passengers and crew registered on the vessel, 1514 would die.

Of the four Allison family members, only young Trevor survived. The father Hudson, mother Bess and sister Loraine all perished. 

There are a few versions of what actually happened to the Allisons in the confusion following the collision with the iceberg. One is that newly-acquired nursemaid, Alice Cleaver, had grabbed young Trevor and made it into one lifeboat, while Bess and Loraine were being put into another.

Bess Allison was not aware that Trevor and the nursemaid were safe, and having second thoughts, decided to jump out of the lifeboat with her young daughter, back onto the deck of the foundering ship to try find her young son and husband. Another is that Bess was last seen tumbling into the frigid sea from a lifeboat.

Bess and Loraine’s bodies were lost at sea and never recovered. Hudson Allison’s body was found floating in the Atlantic by the rescue ship Mackay-Bennett. His remains were laid to rest in the family plot in Chesterville.

A few hours after the sinking, Trevor Allison and the nursemaid were picked alive up by the RMS Carpathia and brought to New York City.

The orphaned child was raised by his uncle and aunt, George and Lillian Allison. But the untimely shroud of premature death was not to part from the Allison family name. Trevor would meet his unfortunate end at the young age of 18, from food poisoning in 1929, while on vacation in Maine.

“The sinking of the Titanic resonates to us on so many levels,” explained Montreal author, Alan Hustak, who recently penned the book Titanic The Canadian Story, Centennial Edition. “How would we behave in a disaster? Many will say it was God’s retribution for hubris. But it remains as a part of the fabric of our lives that it endures.”         

April 15th,  2012 marks the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Royal Mail Ship Titanic.

The author would like to thank Alan Hustak and the Westmount Historical Association (westmounthistorical.org). Mr Hustak will be giving a talk on his new book at the Westmount Library on Wednesday, April 4, 2012.




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