Ray Johnson is one of Newfoundland and Labrador’s best-known musicians, but few know that Johnson is also passionate about Titanic history.
During breaks on the tour with Buddy Wasisname and the other slaughterers, Johnson patiently posed on a huge model of the large ship, complete with electric lights, tiny lifeboats, and miniature passengers.Now, to coincide with the anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic off the coast of Newfoundland, Johnson has finally pulled the curtain back on his model and shown it to the world.
At two sold-out shows this week at Route 66 Diner & Pub in Carbonear, Johnson and a few special guests took the audience on a Titanic history lesson, with the model ship as the show’s centerpiece.
“When I started modeling I said, ‘Is anyone going to see her? “Said Johnson. “And it occurred to me that maybe I could do a presentation or two. And that is why it is happening now. It took 12 years to publish it. “
Johnson teamed up with Pauline Yetman, owner of Route 66 Diner & Pub, a 1950s-style restaurant decorated with classic cars and paintings by Elvis Presley and Marilyn Monroe – not the kind of theme that screams “Titanic.” But for shows, Yetman turned the restaurant into a dinner theater, with decor to match the show’s glamorous subject matter.
“As you can see by all the black curtains around, Elvis Presley left the building,” Yetman said. “So we had to reinvent the building, reinvent downstairs to make it the dining room of the Titanic. “
The first show took place on Wednesday, when guests enjoyed the meal that was served to Second Class passengers on the Titanic the day before the sinking. Thursday – 109th anniversary of the sinking – the first class meal was on the menu.
Johnson started working on his model 12 years ago. Along the way, he amassed so much information about the Titanic that he decided to write a book about it: The Titanic: a disaster that shouldn’t have been, published by Downhome.
Watch a clip of the shows and see Johnson’s model for yourself by clicking on the video above.
Learn more about CBC Newfoundland and Labrador