Several first-hand accounts of how Cape Breton Island assisted victims of the Halifax Explosion can be found inside Cape Breton University’s Beaton Institute.
The photographs, documents and other materials reveal that islanders could also feel the impact following the explosion.
“A large stone church some distance from the explosion resembles the ruins of an old castle.,” one letter reads. “Every window and clock face in the city was blown out. Bodies still lay buried under the debris of the wrecked houses.”
Many of the accounts focus on what Cape Breton sent to Halifax post-explosion.
“(Cape Bretoners) because of the proximity would have had relatives and connections to Halifax, and immediately it was reported in the newspaper that lots of people contributed to the relief effort – especially trades people travelled up after the explosion to help,” says archivist Jane Arnold.
Arnold says many Cape Bretoners aren’t fully aware of the role the island played following the Halifax Explosion.
“Even through social media we've put out some pictures through the Beaton Institutes Facebook page and they were some of the most engaging posts that we created,” says Arnold. “It resonated with people who are primarily located in Cape Breton or have a connection. It is a story that goes beyond Halifax."
Arnold says the horrible tragedy is an important part of Maritime history, and one that will be forever linked with Cape Breton.
With files from CTV Atlantic’s Kyle Moore.