A mysterious letter in a bottle was allegedly written by a 13-year-old girl who was on board the Titanic during its tragic voyage in 1912. The letter was found in a sealed bottle buried on a beach in Hopewell Rocks along the Bay of Fundy in New Brunswick, Canada.
The letter was dated April 13, 1912 – the day before the Titanic hit an iceberg and sank – and was written in French by a 13-year-old girl named Mathilde Lefebvre. Translated to English, it read, “I am throwing this bottle into the sea in the middle of the Atlantic. We are due to arrive in New York in a few days. If anyone finds it, tell the Lefebvre family in Liévin.”
Mathilde and her family came from the French region of Liévin in Pas-de-Calais. Mathilde, her mother Marie Daumont, and three of her siblings were third-class passengers onboard the ship that was traveling from Southampton, England, to New York City. The family was among the 1,500 people who died.
According to research conducted by a team from the University of Quebec at Rimouski (UQAR), the girl, her siblings, and her mother were on their way to the United States to join up with her father Franck Lefebvre who left France with his other kids two years prior.
The researchers from UQAR analyzed the chemical compositions of the cork, bottle, paper, and ink used to write the letter, as well as studying how much the bottle would have eroded due to being in the water and eventually being buried underground.
Based on their analysis, they are confident that it is from that same time frame of the early 1900s. In an interview with Le Journal de Montreal, Manon Savard, who is an archaeologist with the team, stated, “This is for sure a very valuable document. We are sure that the paper of the letter and the bottle are materials dating from before 1912.”
Since there have previously been letters that were faked claiming to have come from the Titanic, experts were extra cautious in making sure that this one was in fact authentic. “We would all like to believe this story, but we have several questions about the authenticity of this letter,” Savard noted. One of their concerns is whether the girl’s handwriting was comparable to that of French children during that time.
Another question was whether or not it was plausible for the letter to end up on a beach in New Brunswick. “Sea currents make it highly unlikely that a floating object has drifted from the North Atlantic into the Bay of Fundy [in New Brunswick],” Savard explained, adding, “It’s not impossible, but it’s unlikely.”
Whether or not the letter is truly authentic, there are still members of the Lefebvre family living in France who have “an emotional commitment to this letter.” “It is very moving this shipwreck. Of course, the family in France is tempted to believe it. I think everyone also wants this to be true.”
Pictures of the letter can be seen here.