The White Star Line contracted four vessels to search for bodies in the immediate aftermath of the sinking. In eight weeks the steamers Mackay-Bennett, Minia, Montmagny and Algerine recovered 328 bodies. In total 209 bodies were returned to Halifax. The return of each ship was awaited with expectation and trepidation, and on its arrival the ship was met by muted crowds, anxious for news of family members or friends, and curious onlookers. The sense of collective mourning and sadness in Halifax was overwhelming.
The Mackay-Bennett, as the first vessel to reach the search area, recovered 306 bodies of which 116 bodies were buried at sea. These were reportedly the most badly decomposed and damaged of the bodies. The Minia recovered only 17 bodies, of which two were buried at sea. The Montmagny recovered four bodies, one of which was buried at sea. She briefly returned to Louisbourg in Nova Scotia and, before resuming her search, the three bodies were taken off and transported to Halifax.
The Algerine recovered only one body, that of Saloon Steward James McGrady. McGrady's body, assigned identification number 330, was the last body recovered during the official recovery effort. Another five bodies were recovered by other ships and all were buried at sea. The Ilford and Ottawa each recovered a single body. The Oceanic, which encountered the Titanic's Collapsible 'A' lifeboat adrift in the North Atlantic, recovered three bodies found in the lifeboat.
To deal with the bodies a temporary morgue was set up at the Mayflower Curling Rink. Only 59 bodies were repatriated to loved ones, with the remaining bodies buried between 3 May and 12 June 1912 at the Fairview Lawn, Baron de Hirsch and Mount Olivet cemeteries.
The graves of the 19 Titanic victims interred at the Mount Olivet Catholic Cemetery in Halifax occupy a small plot within the cemetery. The graves are spaced out over two lines of nine and ten graves. Each of the graves is marked with a small black-granite headstone, paid for by the White Star Line, with a bevelled top. Inscribed into the top of each headstone in sans-serif capital letters is the inscription 'Died April 15, 1912' and the number assigned to the victim when their body was recovered from the sea.
Of the 19 bodies, five - two men and three women - remain unidentified. For those positively identified, the victim's name was also inscribed into the top of the grave. The victims were identified to be of the Catholic faith, either through positive identification or through personal effects found on the body.
The graves, although small in number, represent a cross-section of those travelling aboard the Titanic. Maurice Emile Victor Debreucq was just 18 years old when he joined the Titanic at Southampton as an assistant waiter in the First Class à la carte restaurant. The Titanic was his first job at sea. Maurice died in the sinking and his body was assigned the identification number 244 when he was recovered from the sea.
39 year old Irish third-class passenger Margaret Rice was travelling with her five children Albert, George Hugh, Eric, Arthur and Eugene Francis, all aged between two and ten years old. They all died in the sinking. The bodies of Margaret's five children if recovered, were not identified.