A Halifax Explosion survivor’s battle to rebuild her life
Irene Boymook, or Reenie as she's known to her family and friends, was named after her grandmother. She's said to have the same sense of humour as her namesake, and the same smile.
But 100 years ago, her grandmother fought through the hardest day of her life.
“A little after 9 a.m. her boss came over to her and he said, ‘Good morning Irene,’ and when he said that there was a ‘shhhhh,’ a very loud sound like that,” Boymook says.
“Then she looked around and there was all this blood, and people cut and screaming. So she thought, ‘I've got to find my sister Annie.’”
Annie and Irene worked at the old sugar refinery along the waterfront. The building was demolished by the explosion.
A young Irene searched the building for her sister, finding her injured by the glass shards from the windows. Irene then dragged her sister all the way home to the north end.
“It's eerie. That's all it is. It's eerie,” says Boymook. “On a cold day, to drag her sister back, I mean she didn't have a winter coat on or anything. They just went.”
The sisters were immortalized on one of the iconic postcards from the day. Irene looking stoic, and Annie bandaged and bruised.
“I feel that my grandmother, she had integrity. She was smart. She had to survive,” says Boymook.
Something she was able to do. In the years that followed she would look after her sister Annie, but it wouldn't last. Annie died of her injuries five years after the blast.
Irene would go on to marry, have kids and grandkids. She would rarely talk about that terrible day.
“It just feels like she's here. Like Annie and nanny are here.”
With files from CTV Atlantic’s Emily Baron Cadloff.