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Memorial service marks 106 years since the Halifax Explosion

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On Wednesday morning, Halifax commemorated the 106th anniversary of a massive explosion that shook the city.

Residents and dignitaries gathered at Fort Needham Memorial Park for the annual Halifax Explosion Memorial Service.

The explosion remains a pivotal moment in Canadian history, and a day that has shaped Halifax for more than a century.

The scars of the past are largely healed, but remain etched in memory.

“As a young boy, I didn’t hear too much about the explosion because our family didn’t talk about it. I learned later that I was named after my great uncle David who had perished in the explosion,” said David Orr, a relative of an explosion victim.

More than 1,900 people were killed on Dec. 6, 1917, with many homes and businesses flattened.

“Our then small city of some 60,000 people were put to an utterly unfair test,” said Halifax Mayor Mike Savage.

Bits of film and few photos survive to tell the tale, and now the city’s archives is asking residents to share any photos they might have.

“Much of what we've learned about what the city looked like before that, and in the immediate aftermath as well, came from photos that were donated to museums and archives ... it’s so valuable to have that evidence,” explained municipal archivist Susan McClure.

Halifax is hosting a scan-a-thon on Sunday afternoon at the Halifax Central Library to digitize pictures of life in Halifax from the past and present.

Pictures of the explosion will then be passed to the provincial collection.

“Any photos that show any time period in Halifax from anyone’s perspective are just going to be giving us this great additional perspective and fill in the gaps that are just always going to exist in archives,” said Elena Cremonese, municipal archivist.

Residents are invited to bring photographs, slides, or negatives of their neighbourhood to the library’s third-floor RBC room from noon to 4 p.m. 

For more Nova Scotia news visit our dedicated provincial page.

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