Magnificent Glass Screen
from Canadian Pacific Lines 1961-Built
SS EMPRESS OF CANADA
First Class Mayfair Room
All Original Vintage CP Materials
Mahogany Framework, Nickel Panes, Etched Glass Windows
Four Mahogany Framed Sections, Each Measuring 83.75 by 52 Inches
Each Individual Glass Pane Measures 23 by 26 inches
Every Other Pane Engraved With An Etching Of Canadian Flora
Twelve Etched Panes in All
Total Dimensions of Ensemble: 208 by 83.75 inches (17.3 by 6.98 feet)
When Royal Olympic Cruises magnificent SS APOLLON was sold to Indian shipbreakers and arrived at Alang in late 2003 as the APOLLO, a shudder rumbled through the hearts of vintage ship enthusiasts. The lovely liner was the final flagship of the once mighty Canadian Pacific Lines transatlantic service, and when she debuted as the EMPRESS OF CANADA in 1961, she was part of the last wave of British ocean liners that would also include Orient Lines ORIANA, P&O Lines CANBERRA, Union-Castle Lines WINDSOR and TRANSVAAL CASTLEs and Shaw Savills NORTHERN STAR. She was built during a transitional period between the more traditional post war stylings and the mid-1960s streamlined modern. The result was a pleasingly sleek profile and a spacious and modern ambiance with fittings in rich woodwork, etched glass, nickel and brass.
Canadian Pacific, like all the other established shipping lines, fell victim to the boon in air travel. By the late 1960s, the EMPRESSES were losing huge amounts of money and their cruise programs in the off season were not strong enough to absorb the negative financial impact. In 1971, the EMPRESS OF CANADA was laid up and in 1972, she was bought by fledgling Carnival Cruises who renamed her MARDI GRAS. Their empire was built on this ship, which was put into service virtually unchanged, save for a new funnel paint scheme based on CPs final logo. The deck names, Empress, Main, etc. remained unchanged (and later served as the nomenclature for their vast fleet of newbuildings).
MARDI GRAS stayed with Carnival until 1993, remaining structurally unchanged, retaining most of her CP fixtures, beautiful paneling, and British atmosphere. Of course, some of the fine woodwork was painted black or purple while the carpeting and soft fittings were done up in neon-bright hues, but underneath all of the Farcusian excess, the heart of an EMPRESS still pounded. Well, maybe except for the dining room, which got a neo-New Orleans brothel treatment in the ships latter Carnival years.
Nan Elsan did the etched glass in the ballroom panels (all sold shortly after the container with these panels arrived), and may have been responsible for these beautiful creations, but this cannot be confirmed in any of the research documents I have thus far had access to.
For stability, each section sits upside down as they were designed with flared tops. They are massively heavy and required five men to move from the container to their resting place. It speaks volumes for their construction and quality that they survived the removal process in India and shipping to California. I had hoped to see these preserved by Carnival, perhaps in their corporate offices or with just the glasswork featured on a newbuild (since the mahogany frames would not pass new SOLAS muster), but Carnival had absolutely no interest. In ten or twenty years, someone there will realize what a sad mistake they have made. But I dont have that much time, so now they are available.