Hundreds gather at Fort Needham to remember Halifax Explosion
Published Thursday, December 6, 2018 4:19PM AST
Last Updated Thursday, December 6, 2018 10:21PM AST
Thursday morning, hundreds gathered at Fort Needham Memorial Park to remember those who lost their lives in the Halifax Explosion on Dec. 6, 1917.
The memorial in the city’s north end stands to remember the worst disaster in Canadian history and those who lost their lives because of it.
Each year, on this day, people gather and take a moment to remember.
“The luckiest victims only got to suffer the bitter stinging pleasure of iodine, the unluckiest lucky get to perish, by the bliss of morphine,” said poet George Elliott Clarke.
The Halifax Explosion happened at 9:04 a.m. 101 years ago.
Two ships collided in the harbour and sparked a massive blast that destroyed the north end of the city and claimed almost 2,000 lives. The blast was felt as far away as Charlottetown.
“As a family we always remembered,” said Marilyn Davidson Elliott. She says it's now up to her to relay what her father went through.
“He was looking out the window, as many were, and when the explosion occurred the glass blew into his face and destroyed his eyes, they couldn't be saved,” Davidson Elliott said. “He was the youngest survivor to lose both eyes to the explosion.”
He was two-and-a-half years old.
Among the crowd, you don't have to look far to find another with a connection to the explosion.
Donalda Mosher is also the daughter of a survivor.
“They lived on Barrington Street facing the harbor and the glass blew in,” Mosher said. “He didn't lose his eye, he lost the sight, but he could never see out of that eye.”
The loss was hard to comprehend at a time when Halifax was still a young city.
In addition to the dead, 9,000 were injured and 25,000 were left homeless.
Mayor Mike Savage took time to remember someone who didn't survive that day, but whose actions saved many others.
“Vincent Coleman stayed behind, knowing what was going to happen, is etched here in Morse code, he sent out this message: ‘Hold up the train, ammunition ship, fire in the harbour. Making for Pier 6, and will explode. I guess this will be my last message. Goodbye boys.’”
It’s a message people here say should never be forgotten to ensure that future generations remember to stop and take a moment, at 9:04 on Dec. 6.
With files from CTV Atlantic’s Laura Brown.