Even after 102 years, new stories emerge of Halifax Explosion
HALIFAX -- Hundreds of people attended ceremonies marking the 102nd anniversary of the Halifax Explosion.
Those who survived the catastrophic blast in 1917 were recognized with empty chairs at the Fort Needham Park Memorial Park ceremony Friday morning. In past years those chairs would’ve been filled. But there are no longer any survivors of the blast still living.
Family members of survivors were eager to share stories they heard from their relatives growing up.
"It’s these little personal stories that we just need to pass on," said Margaret Murray, who wore a red scarf signifying her family’s connection to the explosion.
"My grandmother and aunt were standing at the window watching, and of course, when the blast happened, my grandmother lost an eye and my aunt had glass bits in her arm for the rest of her life," said Murray.
In Dartmouth, a ceremony was held at Mont Blanc Cannon Park. Phil Payzant read a portion of his grandmother’s diary entry, written a few days after the explosion.
"Every time I read it, and I’ve probably read that particular entry a dozen times now, it’s always a fairly emotional experience," said Payzant.
Historians say it’s critical for family members to continue telling these stories.
"And every year we learn new stories," said Beth Valace, of the Dartmouth Historical Society. "We’re learning more about the Mi’kmaq Community and Turtle Grove and the significant loss they had there. And that was never re-settled after the fact. So these are all really important stories we need to continue telling. And we learn new ones every year."