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My Welsh grandparents emigrated - and narrowly avoided boarding the Titanic

Lorraine Knourek
  • Welsh roots
  • British Columbia, Canada

Proud GlobalWelsh member Lorraine Knourek is a Canadian with Welsh roots. In 1910, her grandparents Robert (Bob) Edwards and Catherine ‘Cathy’ Salisbury made the decision to leave their homes near Ruthin and emigrate to Canada. What followed next was a fateful decision which ultimately saved their lives - and meant their children and future grandchildren would be alive to tell this extraordinary tale. Lorraine and her family currently reside in Abbotsford, British Columbia.

My grandparents - one a Salisbury and the other an Edwards were born and raised on small farms close to Ruthin in the Vale of Clwyd. They met and married and decided to emigrate to Canada. They’d purchased tickets for the Titanic but it was not going to be finished in time for their departure in 1910 so they exchanged them for tickets on the Mauretania.

As they had third class tickets they were in the lower wooden bunks in the bottom of the ship and while my grandma was very seasick the whole trip, they arrived in Canada alive and well.

Returning home to find my roots

While my grandparents never returned to Wales, my Dad visited after their passing - and I also recently returned. My grandmother had given us such a complete picture of the countryside and family that when I saw their farm at Bontuchel, I felt like I had come home. Keeping in touch with our Welsh roots was something that my own Mom and Dad did - and now it’s something I’m doing too.

I’ll be returning again to Wales next year - my second time to visit - and I’m determined to learn some Welsh beyond ‘Bore da’ and ‘Diolch’. Someone on Instagram recommended ‘Say Something in Welsh’, so I’m slowly starting again and I’ll be repeating and repeating until it all sinks in.

As long as I can say a few sentences, I’ll be happy.

It’s incredible to think that my father, my sister and I and my children and grandchildren are all here due to the slow workmen from the Titanic!

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