Hundreds gather to mark 95th anniversary of Halifax Explosion
Published Thursday, December 6, 2012 6:22PM AST
Last Updated Thursday, December 6, 2012 9:07PM AST
Hundreds gathered in Halifax Thursday to mark the 95th anniversary of the Halifax Explosion.
On Dec. 6, 1917, a French cargo ship full of explosives collided with a Norwegian ship in the narrows of the Halifax Harbour.
The collision sparked a fire which led to the most powerful manmade explosion before the atomic bomb.
More than 2,000 people were killed and 9,000 were injured, or left homeless, while much of the city was left in ruins.
It’s a disaster that forever changed the face of Halifax.
“I remember eating my breakfast at the time, and the windows all came at me from the side of my house,” says survivor George Simm.
“My mother just got through braiding my sister’s hair and sending her off to school and we were just, we weren’t dressed for the day,” recalls survivor Kathleen MacDonald. “My mother just had her housedress on.”
Among the first responders were Halifax firefighters, who rushed to the harbour in an ill-fated effort to put out the flames.
“We appreciate people coming out today,” says Chris Camp of Halifax Regional Fire. “It has been 95 years, and you know, over time memories fade and sometimes people forget things. Fortunately, it’s not fading.”
While the disaster is best known as the Halifax Explosion, the city of Dartmouth also suffered significant damage in the blast.
An entire Mi’kmaq community on the Dartmouth side was completely destroyed.
In the days that followed the disaster, people came from near and far to provide aid, including Judith Tabler’s grandfather, who was on the first train from Boston.
“My grandfather was one of the surgeons who came up,” says Tabler, who is visiting Halifax from Virginia.
“I think he was the chief surgeon on the first train. All my life I’ve heard about it and we thought we would finally make it up here, 95 years later.”
Nearly a century later, much has changed, but little has been forgotten.
“It’s something that I think should be remember because they’re our forefathers and they went through something very tragic and terrible,” says Ray Edmonds, the son of a survivor.