Historian tackles sinking of Lusitania

Seven Victoria residents were among the 1,200 passengers who died on ship in 1915

Victoria historian Diana Pedersen will give her insights on the sinking of the Lusitania ocean liner on the 100-year anniversary of the First World War tragedy.

Seven Victoria residents were among the 1,200 passengers who died on the Lusitania when it was sunk by a German submarine off the coast of Ireland on May 7, 1915.

Pedersen will focus on the anti-German riots that erupted when news of the Lusitania disaster reached Victoria through a walking tour on Saturday (May 9) and Sunday (May 10).

The tours will start at the corner of Blanshard and Johnson streets, across from the Kaiserhof Hotel where the riots began, and visit sites targeted by the angry mobs that stormed through the streets pursued by hundreds of soldiers and police.

Tours start Saturday at 2 p.m. and Sunday at 10:30 a.m.

On May 17, Pedersen will lead a tour of Ross Bay Cemetery for the Old Cemeteries Society. Highlights will include the family plot of James and Laura Dunsmuir who lost their 21-year-old son and heir on the Lusitania, as well as the graves of the mayor of Victoria, the chatelaine of Government House, the editor of the Daily Colonist, the owner of a vandalized plumbing business, and the bartender of the German Club. Tour starts at 2 p.m. outside Oregano’s at Fairfield Plaza.

Ending the month will be Pedersen’s illustrated lecture for the Victoria Historical Society. Victoria and the Sinking of RMS Lusitania will examine the Lusitania?s eight-year career as viewed from Victoria, the sinking of the ship and the fates of the 14 Victoria passengers, and Victoria’s anti-German riots and their aftermath. The lecture will follow the AGM on May 28 at 7 p.m. at the James Bay New Horizons, 234 Menzies St.