It was one of the biggest human disasters of the twentieth century. This weekend marks the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic. It was a tragedy that had an impact not only on world history, but also local history.

Hugh Brewster, author of “Gilded Lives, Fatal Voyage: The Titanic’s First Class Passengers and Their World” let 570 News know that there were in fact local passengers on the ship.

One of the most famous passengers on board the Titanic, was Lady Duff Gordon. Born Lucy Christiana Sutherland, Lady Duff Gordon was born in England, but raised in Guelph with her sister who later became famous novelist Elinor Glyn, pioneer for the modern Bodice Rippers. Their father, Douglas Sutherland was a civil engineer in Guelph, but after he died, their mother remarried and the girls were moved back to England in 1871.

After a failed marriage, Brewster let us know that Lady Duff Gordon became a seamstress. “She said ‘well I’m going to have to become a seamstress because I can sew’. Because in Guelph in the 1860′s you had to make your own clothes.” Eventually she opened her own fashion house in London, England, and it eventually grew so that she had salons in Paris, New York and Chicago as well. Brewster said that her fame, was more than many of today’s designers put together. “You put Vera Wang, Karl Lagerfeld, every fashion designer today that you can think of into one person and they wouldn’t come close to how famous Lady Duff Gordon was. She invented the fashion show.”

The designer was the first to use model’s instead of mannequins to show off her work, and thought of them walking the runway with live music to an audience. She also coined the term “Chic”. Everyone from royalty, like Queen Mary, to chorus girls in the theatre wore her designs.

She later remarried Sir Cosmo Duff-Gordon, and it was with him and her secretary that she travelled on the Titanic when she needed to attend business for her salon in New York. Lucy Duff Gordon, her husband and her secretary were given spots on the first lifeboat, which could hold forty people, but only took twelve. Rumours swirled around saying that Sir Cosmo paid the crew members on the lifeboat to not return to help the drowning passengers, and it ruined his reputation in the tabloids and papers, though it hardly touched Lady Duff Gordon’s reputation and her fashion company continued to florish.

Then there was Thomson Beattie, a man from Fergus, who was another first class passenger on the Titanic. A successful businessman, who had moved to Winnipeg when his father died, he had been travelling when one of his companions, Hugo Ross got sick. “So Thomson Beattie wrote his mother in Fergus, saying ‘Dont worry, we’re coming home sooner than expected on an unsinkable boat.’” Brewster informed 570 News of the irony. He also told us that when the Titanic hit the ice berg, Beattie’s bed ridden friend who was still sick from his trip said “Well, it will take more than an iceberg to get me out of my bed.” And that was the last we heard of Hugo Ross.

“Now Thomson Beattie, interestingly, was the last body recovered from the Titanic disaster.” Brewster informed us, it was a title Beattie probably could have lived without. Beattie was unfortunately in a life boat that a wave had soaked, and was one of the many passengers that died of hypothermia. When the still-alive passengers were rescued, the life boat with Thomson Beattie and two other bodies was simply pushed away. “And so he drifted in this swamped boat for a month, and was rescued by a passing ship several hundred miles away from where the disaster happened.”

Beattie was buried at sea by the ship that found him, but in the family plot in Fergus, there’s a memorial on the Beattie family tombstone that reads “Thomson Beattie 1875 – 1912 drowned at sea, Titanic Disaster” and on the other side, is a memorial for his brother, who died in Passchendaele, four years later in World War I. “What a lot of history in one family.” Brewster pointed out.