In her new non- fiction title for young adult readers, Into the Mist: The Story of the Empress of Ireland, Anne Renaud focuses on the elegant ship from the Edwardian era that sank in the St. Lawrence River, taking over 1000 lives with it. In Renaud’s account, the wreck isn’t depicted until the second half of the book, the author taking care to first make a case for the liner’s contributions to Canadian industry and society. The Empress of Ireland was built in 1905 in Scot- land for the Canadian Pacific Railway to carry mail between Britain and Canada. At the time, Canada was seeking European immigrants to settle in the lands newly linked by the railway and the Empress of Ireland be- came an important vessel for bringing settlers into the country. Renaud’s descriptions of the tiered accommodations available to passengers – which included a barbershop, a library, and a children’s playground – illustrate the class divisions of the era. She further humanizes her story by making case studies of some of those who traveled on the ship. The many photographs and historical documents, such as advertisements and news- paper headlines, included in the book help the reader visualize the period, so that by the time the sinking is described, its tragedy seems all the more profound.
Andrea Belcham is the author of the forthcoming Food and Fellowship: Pro- jects and Recipes to Feed a Community (The Alternate Press/Life Media).