9368 | Fragment
This artefact belongs to: © New Brunswick Museum
Keys to History
New Brunswickers exhibited a healthy curiosity for international affairs in the early 20th century. The eruption of Mount Pelée that devoured St. Pierre, Martinique, attracted worldwide attention in May 1902. Approximately 29,000 people died in the catastrophe. The acquisition of this tablet fragment by an unidentified New Brunswick sea captain in 1904 suggests the great interest of New Brunswickers in the tragedy. While the golden age of shipbuilding and shipping had by this time ended, sea captains and sailors who still worked in the industry continued the long-standing tradition of returning home with souvenirs of their voyages around the world.
Another prominent overseas affair that caught the attention of New Brunswick in the early years of the new century was the drama of the Russo-Japanese War. Throughout 1904, the province's newspapers often featured front-page coverage of the war. The articles, filled with thrilling details of each land and sea battle, might have been describing a sporting event.
Also receiving plenty of attention in the newspapers of 1904 was the tragic accidental sinking of the General Slocum in New York City harbour on June 15. Saint John's Daily Telegraph reported the desperate rescue efforts, and over the following days and weeks kept a tally of the identities of the hundreds who perished. The paper also covered the deaths of those who committed suicide as a result of the trauma of the tragedy.
This fragment, part of a bishop's memorial tablet from the cathedral in St. Pierre, Martinique, survived a colossal volcanic eruption in May 1902.
Mount Pelée, on the Caribbean island of Martinique, erupted in May 1902, devastating the city of St. Pierre, situated on its lower slopes.
In 1904, two years after the volcano erupted, this tablet fragment was recovered from the ruins of St. Pierre by an unidentified New Brunswick ship's captain.
In 1905, James Manchester, President of the Bank of New Brunswick, gave the artifact to the Natural History Society of New Brunswick, a forerunner of the New Brunswick Museum.