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Dr. Dianne Strong
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  • Santa Rita, GU
  • United States
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  • Mike Gawel
  • Marilyn Marsh
  • Robert F. Kay

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I'm interested in
Diving, Culture, Sight Seeing, Flora & Fauna, Ocean Sports
I've visited/lived in/or would like to learn about
Viti Levu, Rakiraki, Yasawa
Tell us a bit about yourself, your profession, reason for visiting, etc
I visited Fiji for 15 days in July and am returning for 10 days in August. I was fascinated that Suva's first mayor, C.J. Marks, drowned in the sinking of the Empress of Ireland in Quebec in 1914. I dove the Empress in 1970, 1971, 1972 and 2008. I would like to research him more.

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Comment Wall (6 comments)

At 9:05am on August 6, 2011, Robert F. Kay said…

Bula Dr. Dianne,


That is fascinating stuff about CJ.  I know nothing about Mr. Marks but am aware that there was a Jewish community in Fiji and in fact there is a Jewish Cemetery outside of Suva. Would be very interested if you could share any research about the former Mayor.  If you could blog about what you've uncovered I would really like to see it on the site.  If you have any photos of the Empress of Ireland from your dives, that would be great to see as well.  vinaka

At 1:18pm on August 6, 2011, Dr. Dianne Strong said…

Bula vinaku, Robert!

I just checked the deceased passenger list in what I consider the Bible of Empress books; David Zeni's Forgotten Empress (Halsgrove, United Kingdom, 1998). Lost from First Class, where 36 lucky travelers were rescued: Mr. J. Gabriel Marks and Mrs. Marks. Because the ship sank in 14 minutes in 33 degree water, outbound from Quebec City with passengers not given emergency drills and 2nd and 3rd class exits locked, 1,050 souls perished.

From the internet ( I found:

Until 1910 the New South Wales branch of the company was responsible for Colonial affairs in Fiji. In that year Henry Marks and Company became Colonial agents in Fiji. Morris Hedstrom Ltd took over as managing agents in Fiji on 25 January 1929, and the New Zealand branch assumed authority over Colonial's interests in 1938.

Further research revealed that Henry Marks Ltd. appears to be a retail store chain in Canada, based in Montreal. Wikipedia (thanks to your tie-in with the Jewish community) states that at the age of 20, Henry Mark was the first Jew to settle in Fiji in 1881.


At 1:19pm on August 6, 2011, Dr. Dianne Strong said…


On June 23, 2011, the Fiji Museum in its series on the history of Suva street names posted the following

MARKS ST.    -   (Central Suva)

Gabriel Jacob Marks (1870-1914), first mayor of Suva (earlier the official was called Warden). Marks and his wife were drowned in the St. Lawrence River when the S.S. Empress of Ireland sank on 23rd May, 1914. The deaths were announced in the Fiji Times on 2nd June, and flags from Government House, the foreign consulates, and various businesses were flown at half-mast. Victoria Park, the recreation reserve, was the scene of an entertainment each year on Empire Day, to which Mr. and Mrs. Gabriel Marks invited all European children and provided them with refreshments and soft drinks' (McHugh).

Sir Henry Marks (1861-1937), Warden of Suva 1892, 1893, and 1902. Born in Melbourne, Sir Henry arrived in Fiji in 1881 and established himself as a commission agent and an export and import trader, an enterprise that grew into Messrs. Henry Marks & Company Ltd. While Warden in 1902, he organized a drive for funds to build Queen Victoria Memorial Hall, which became Town Hall. 

At 12:26pm on November 5, 2011, Marilyn Marsh said…

Bula Tai Di !

I'm delighted to have found you here too!  - and very jealous that you have spent so much time in Fiji - my aim is to do the same once I'm retired (but I'll do it without the diving - especially the shark dives - just snorkelling for me). I was interested in your visit to Koia, I have been past there when we caught the local boat from Taveuni to Buca Bay, and we stopped to offload passengers - so you are one up on me there.  You must have noticed a difference in customs there from the usual Fijian - or have they adopted all Fijian ways?  Maybe you could put the Lau Group on your "to-do" list (I've got some photos on my page here) - no diving set-up that I know of but snorkelling in the north of Vanua Balavu was marvellous.  Hard to get to these days with the stopping of some air services, so you need to allow plenty of time.  They have a very strong Tongan influence, different from what we know in mainland Fiji.

We've just got back from our annual visit - only the Yasawas this time, 5 days at Octopus for Terry and me, followed by 11 days at Blue Lagoon with our whole family, so I was very involved with being Grandma.

I'm on Facebook too, so if you add me to your friends I could see your pictures that way.   


Tai Marilyn

At 5:47pm on November 5, 2011, Marilyn Marsh said…
Will go to Facebook soon.  I'm just working on a report on the Yasawas for this site - updating what Rob has on here for Octopus and adding info about transportation and Blue Lagoon.  Looking forward to seeing your pictures!
At 5:48pm on November 5, 2011, Marilyn Marsh said…
Will go to Facebook soon.  I'm just working on a report on the Yasawas for this site - updating what Rob has on here for Octopus and adding info about transportation and Blue Lagoon.  Looking forward to seeing your pictures!

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