Lusitania Legacy

The crowd of 600 invited guests and thousands of spectators cheered as the great ship slid into the waters of the Clyde on June 7th, 1906. She had been commissioned by Cunard, built at the John Brown and Company shipyards, and christened the Lusitania. For a brief time she was the largest ship on the seas. 1.


One man in the crowd may not have been cheering: my grandfather James Rankin Angus. He knew the employment he had so recently secured as a joiner would soon be over. On September 7th, 1907, her outfitting completed, the Lusitania would make her maiden voyage to New York. 2.


In November of the same year, my grandfather set sail on the Sicilian for Quebec City.3. What led him to immigrate? It is unlikely that he could not have found work at John Brown or any other shipyard. Ship-building on the Clyde was at its height and no doubt James had acquired significant skills working on the luxurious Lusitania. Had his time in the Royal Marines developed a wander-lust? Two of his eight years in the navy were spent in “service afloat”. 4. Or was it the example of his older brothers, one who immigrated to Australia and another to Malaysia? 5.


James was born on October 17th, 1878 in Patrick where the Kelvin River enters the Clyde .He was one of ten children born to David Angus, a shoemaker, and his wife Anne Rankin.6.  Originally the village had been a milling centre but the growth of the Clyde-side ship building industry in the 1800’s led to Patrick’s rapid expansion. Hundreds of multi-story tenement buildings were erected to house the flood of workers. When my grandfather left Patrick it was rough, dirty and crowded, far from the trendy area of Glasgow it is today. 7. He would miss only his family.


There is no record of James’ early years in Quebec City. He came to Canada a Presbyterian and a Freemason 8.  so one can only assume he found employment contacts and a social life through his church and his Masonic Lodge. In 1912 he opened the Angus Book and Stationary Store 9. , a business that thrived until 1935 when the Depression led to its demise. 10. James ended his career working for the provincial government. He never owned a car but walked to and from work with his head held high and his back ram-rod straight. A proud man. 11.


James married Jean Jamison Brodie, the daughter of a wealthy Quebec City flour merchant, in 1911 12.  and fathered three sons. All three enlisted when World War II broke out and served their country overseas. His first born died in the skies over Germany in 1943. 13. The remaining two returned to marry and give him the grandchildren he so dearly loved.


For eight years the Lusitania sailed the Atlantic until she was sunk by a German U-Boat on May 7th, 1915 off the coast of Ireland with the loss of more than a thousand lives.14. James gave his wife a tin box of sweets with a commemorative photo of the ship on the lid, the ship that had ultimately led him to her and a life in Canada. The cherished tin remained on her desk for as long as they lived in their home.15. My grandparents’ marriage spanned fifty-three years.16. Today their descendants number thirty-four, an enduring legacy.




  3. com, UK, Outward Passenger Lists, 1890-1960
  4. Certificate of the Service of James Rankin Angus (#9151), Royal Marines, 1906 – on file with writer
  5. Family letters – on file with writer
  6. Birth certificate James Rankin Angus; census records 1871, 1881, 1891 – on file with writer
  8. Masonic Records – on file with writer
  9. City Directory, Quebec City 1912 – first listing of bookstore
  10. City Directory, Quebec City, 1935 – final listing of bookstore
  11. Personal memory and observation
  12. Quebec Chronicle Telegraph clipping June, 1911 – on file with writer
  13. RCAF Service Records of Colin Brodie Angus and Bomber Command Service Bar (awarded 2013) – on file with writer
  15. Personal memory and observation
  16. Death certificate James Rankin Angus – on file with writer

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