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Anderson finds Titanic connection on China cruise

After a lifetime of studying and preserving high-end passenger train cars, Garry Anderson called it a career with the Canadian Museum of Rail Travel in 2013.

Now retired, he has the time to make all the trips he's planned over the years.

One of the latest trips includes an upcoming trip to China in April, which is a group event organized through Uniglobe Direct Travel.

Though he's no longer involved with the Rail Museum, his interest in heritage preservation hasn't waned.

The group trip includes a trans-Pacific voyage on the 'Millennium' cruise ship, which features some interesting historical preservation, as well as a personal connection to his family heritage, according to Anderson.

His grandmother was scheduled to sail on the Titanic for the return voyage from New York back to Southampton en route to Europe, however, that didn't happen after the ship struck an iceberg and sank in April 1912.

The Titanic had a sister ship, the Olympic, which was finished a year earlier and sailed until 1935 before being scrapped in 1937. The Olympic featured the 'A la Carte Restaurant' which had wood paneling preserved after the ship's demolition, and is now a part of the Millennium cruise ship — the same vessel that will carry the Uniglobe travel group across the Pacific Ocean to China.

"I found a reference to an Olympic restaurant — which is a heritage restaurant in the ship — specially placed with panels from the A la Carte restaurant of the Olympic, which is the sister ship of the Titanic, built a year earlier in 1911," said Anderson.

"My interest stems from the fact that my grandmother — my mother's mother — was 18 at the time and her parents were scheduled to take the Titanic back on it's return maiden voyage..."

After the Olympic was scrapped in 1937, a hotel bought the wood panels and used them for decades until the construction of the Millennium cruise ship in the late 1990s.

"They're absolutely spectacular panels," said Anderson. "French walnut, in many ways similar to some of the cars we have with inlays, figuring, pearls. It's a spectacular thing and it brings back the memories of what we had to do to restore the cars at the Canadian Museum of Rail Travel."

The project to incorporate the panels into the heritage restaurant are reminiscent of the work Anderson did with the Royal Alexandra Hall.

"The Royal Alexandra Hall was more similar because the contents weren't damaged, they just needed to be provided a new shell," he said. "In the Olympic restaurant A la Carte's case, the panels were already in good condition, coming right out of the ship and into the hotel. It didn't suffer the ravages of time, they weren't exposed to sun, rain or ups and downs of weather, so they were in as good of condition as could be expected right from the end days of the ship, which was about 25 years of use."

The trip to China, which is a group event, includes a river cruise before a return trip from Shanghai back to Vancouver on the Millennium ship. There will be an information session on the trip on Wednesday, Sept. 3. Contact Kathy Holmes at kathy@uniglobedirect.com for more information on the group tour.

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