The anniversary of the Halifax Explosion is only a few days away. December 6, 1917 was a bright, sunny morning, mild for December, with no hint of what fate had in store as people went about their morning routines. Shortly after 9:00 am Mont Blanc, on fire and abandoned by her crew, drifted into Pier 6 in Richmond and detonated.
The watch above, stopped at the time of the Explosion, is part of the collection of the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic here in Halifax. No matter how often I’ve seen it, the museum’s Explosion exhibit still makes me shiver. A nightgown stained with soot, a young boy’s schoolbag,a child’s drawing of a ship – the personal items bring a poignant sense of connection. For me, the fascination of history is that human nature always has been and always will be the same. Only the circumstances change.
The item at the museum that really gives me chills is a little china souvenir cup, about the size of a demitasse, that was found in the rubble of a home, one of the only things left intact. It has ‘Remember Me’ written on it. And so we do.
Next Sunday, December 4, from 2 to 4 pm, I’m going to be signing copies of Shattered down at the museum. If you’re in Halifax, drop by, walk through the Explosion exhibit and visit the Titanic exhibit as well. Both are well worth a visit. See you there!