This ship, the first of three to carry the name, was built by Fairfield
Shipbuilding and Engineering Co. at Glasgow. Launched in 1920, she was
the first significant addition to Canadian Pacific's fleet after the
disruption caused by World War I. She left Falmouth on her maiden
voyage, to Vancouver by way of Suez and Hong Kong, on 5 May 1922. From
Vancouver, she entered Canadian Pacific's transpacific service to Japan,
China and Hong Kong.
In 1924, Empress of Canada made Canadian Pacific's first Round-the-world
cruise, out of New York. In 1928, she returned to her builder to have
her double reduction turbine engines replaced by single reduction
turbines. This increased her service speed from 18 knots to 21 knots.
After this work was completed, she made one roundtrip from Southampton
to Québec before returning to Vancouver via New York and the Panama
In November 1939, after 200 Pacific crossings, Empress of Canada was
requisitioned for trooping. On 1 March 1943, she left Durban with about
1800 people on board, including 400 Italian prisoners of war and 200
Poles who had been released by the Soviet Union after Germany invaded.
On the night of 13-14 March 1943, she was torpedoed twice by the Italian
submarine Leonardo da Vinci about 400 miles (640 km) south of Cape
Palmas and sank within 20 minutes after the second attack. There were
392 fatalities: 340 passengers, including a majority of the Italian
prisoners, 44 crew and 8 gunners. The survivors were taken to Freetown
and, from there, resumed their trip to England on