Only 465 of the ship’s 1,477 passengers and crew survived after a Norwegian ship carrying coal struck the Empress of Ireland off Rimouski,Que., and ripped open the hull.
The Canadian Pacific Railway-owned ship, now known as "Canada's Titanic," sank in only 14 minutes and still rests 45 metres below the surface.
The CPR dispatched divers soon after the disaster to salvage $150,000 in silver bullion that sank with the ship. Following that salvage mission, the exact location of the ship was lost until it was rediscovered in 1964.
The wreck has been visited by countless recreational divers and treasure hunters, but the Parks Canada expedition is the first to thoroughly study the wreck.
Expedition leader Charles Dagneau said the expedition hopes to resolve long-standing concerns about the ship’s rudder, which was suspected of not functioning correctly at the time of the accident.
Dagneau said no records of the rudder’s design exist.
"One thing in particular that we’re looking at is the rudder of the ship that was changed throughout the life of the Empress of Ireland. That's something that's not well-documented, by history, there's no plans, there's no drawing. So we're going to see how it's built,” he said.
The expedition will last until the end of July.