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Moncton man’s Halifax Explosion museum tells story of a destroyed city
A Moncton man has gathered more than 3,000 postcards documenting what Halifax looked like before and after the explosion 100 years ago.
Sandy Lays started gathering the fascinating artifacts related to the disaster 30 years ago.
"Any antique shop, any yard sale, I always check because you never know what you might pick up," Sandy says.
One of the photos depicts a community gathering with a horse-led carriage near the Halifax Morning Market just months before the worst manmade disaster in history.
Following the destruction of the city, a heavy snow storm set in early the next morning. Lays says that was the same morning his father was born. The snow was so high in Pictou County it prevented anyone from entering the house from downstairs. A doctor climbed in the second storey window to deliver his father.
“I was always tied to the explosion because of that,” says Sandy.
Years later, Sandy's daughter read a book in school on the Halifax Explosion.
"It was called Barometer Rising and she came home and said, ‘Dad you should read that book so when I read the book.’ I thought, ‘Oh my God, I just had to get more of it,’” says Sandy.
After 30 years of collecting, the 66-year-old now has a small museum in his home. But Sandy says every small remnant tells a much larger story.
Sandy had survivors sign their name inside a book, including one man who was left blinded by the explosion.
"I met them and it’s their actual signature,” says Sandy. “It's amazing to look back and say, ‘Oh I remember meeting her.’"
Sandy is unsure how much his collection would cost to replace, but he’s been told one of the items has a rivet from one of the ships that’s worth $30,000.
"I'll leave that to my daughters to decide after I pass,” he says.
For now, collecting Halifax Explosion memorabilia remains Sandy’s passion.
"When the light glitters through the crystal it brings us hope.”
With files from CTV Atlantic’s Mary Cranston.