BRIDGEVILLE – When a local mine manager booked passage 1912 to return to North America aboard the largest ship in the world, little did he know he would never complete the journey home.
Ernst A. Sjostedt was born Sept. 9, 1852, in Hjo, Västergötland, Sweden. After obtaining his education in engineering and metallurgy, he immigrated to the United States in 1878.
He was general manager of the Pictou Charcoal Iron Company in the 1890s, which in its heyday hired around 100 men.
The company established a coal-fired furnace at Charcoal Junction, just a short distance from Bridgeville, which was served by a branch rail line leading to Sunny Brae.
The 1890 directory of iron and steel works describes the company’s facilities as a building with one stack, one Cooper-Durham stove and the end product to be pig iron for car wheels, malleable purposes and general foundry work.
“Estimated annual capacity, 8,000 net tons,” the directory read.
While in Pictou County, it was at this time Sjostedt met and married Kathleen Winslow. They had two daughters.
He was hired by the Lake Superior Steel Company in 1904 and moved to Sault Ste. Marie. He was commissioned by the Canadian government to study the practices of ore mining in Sweden in 1912.
Upon completion of his tasks, he bought a second-class ticket home for £13 aboard the RMS Titanic and boarded in Southampton, England, on Apr. 10, 1912.
When the ship struck an iceberg and sank on Apr. 15, Sjostedt was not among the survivors, nor was his body ever found or identified.
For some of those who lost their lives aboard the ill-fated ship, Halifax was their final destination. Just two days after the disaster, Halifax-based Cable Steamer Mackay-Bennett set sail with a minister, an undertaker and a cargo of ice, coffins and canvas bags. After five days at sea, her crew recovered 306 bodies, 116 of which had to be buried at sea.
Other ships were dispatched from Halifax to recover bodies, including Minia, Montmagny and Algerine. Of the 1,500 who lost their lives in the Titanic disaster, the government commissioned Canadian ships only recovered 328 bodies, most of which are buried at Halifax’s Fairview Cemetery and other cemeteries in the city.
*With files from Clyde Macdonald, John Ashton and Encyclopedia Titanica
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