Tuesday, 14 April 2009

Anniversary







Ninety seven years ago tonight, on the night of April 14/15 1912 the supposedly unsinkable Titanic went down in the Atlantic after hitting an iceberg. Over 1500 passengers and crew went down with her.
The nearest seaport to her sinking was the port of Halifax, Nova Scotia and it was there that the retrieved dead were taken for burial. In the entrance to the harbour there is a lighthouse and a lone cottage, where the lighthouse keeper lived with his family. Seeing it you can imagine how they must have felt when the ships bearing the bodies were brought into the harbour.
The 121 lie in Fairview Cemetery in Halifax, their final resting place.
Halifax is a lovely, typical East coast settlement, with lots of wooden buildings painted in bright colours. It takes the brunt of Atlantic weather, along with Peggy's cover further down the coast.
But the sinking of the Titanic was not the only tragedy to hit this coastline. Some years ago a plane crashed into Peggy's Cove, with the loss of everybody on board. And in 1917. on December 6th there was a huge explosion in Halifax Harbour. when the French munition ship Mont Blanc,making a brief stop on her way from New York to the war in Europe ,collided with the Belgian relief ship, Imo. As the Mont Blanc reversed her engines to pull away from the collision, she created a spark with the clashing of metal and she caught fire and blew up. Almost two thousand people were killed on shore and over nine thousand were injured and large parts of Halifax were completely destroyed. The explosion happened in the narrows and the blast was carried ashore. It was the largest man-made explosion in the world before the atomic bomb,
The tragedy is commemorated by a huge memorial with a hole in the middle - if you stand and look through the hole you can see the spot where the explosion took place. Bells are regularly tolled in the harbour to commemorate the disaster.
Such a lovely, peaceful place (on a fine sunny day when I visited) but the recipient of so much tragedy, so many lives destroyed and futures ruined.
## Photographs show the narrows at the entrance to Halifax harbour - the lighthouse.
Halifax harbour and waterfront.
Fairview cemetery, Halifax and the graves of the Titanic victims - the gravestones
are built in the shape of a boat.

28 comments:

jinksy said...

Makes you wonder whether there are 'black spots' on the Earth's surface same as on roads...

Derrick said...

Hello Weaver,

So many sad remembrances for what must otherwise be a lovely spot. It is strange how Fate delivers these things and why the tragedy so often has to be multiplied. Rather like the Lockerbie disaster. Why did the aircraft have to land on the town when there were miles of open countryside surrounding it?!

Dave King said...

There was so much collateral (I suppose you could say) sadness to this event. It wasn't even JUST a disaster, and the more information that is unearthed (if that is the right term to use!) the worse it seems to get.

Red Clover said...

So interesting. I suppose where there is great suffering is also the capability for great joy...

Leenie said...

Weaver, Thanks for the information. I knew very little of the tragedies of Halifax--A beautiful place with a history of grief.

Heather said...

I had never heard of the 1917 disaster, and find such an appalling loss of life difficult to take in. I can't imagine having to try to cope with anything on that scale. Some people have too much to bear.

Poet in Residence said...

Never heard of that incredible Mont Blanc explosion before now. Curious that we always hear so often of the Titanic.
And another lovely poem. Double treat!

Reader Wil said...

An impressive history laden with sadness and tragedy! Thank you for sharing this history. You have also been all over the world, haven't you?! Yes Norway is a very beautiful country and the people are very nice and helpful. I love the country, and so did my husband.

EB said...

No, I hadn't heard of the Mont Blanc disaster before either. Shocking in itself that such an event should slip away.

Gramma Ann said...

I thought maybe I was the only one who hadn't heard of the Mont Blanc disaster, but see I'm not the only one. I learned so much today that I never knew before. Thanks for all the research and sharing with us.

willow said...

Such a horrid tragedy. Interesting and haunting, too, that the tombstones are in the shape of a ship.

Arija said...

We lived in Canada for a while and knew quite a bit about the East coast but had not heard of the major tragedy of 1917. Thank you for sharing this information.

MarmaladeRose said...

Very interesting, it seems Halifax has had more than it's fair share of disasters.

The Weaver of Grass said...

I think, when you look at the map, Jinksy the narrows are really a place waiting for an accident. I believe that as most of the town was made of wood there was just an enormous fire which spread everywhere.

The Weaver of Grass said...

Derrick, I have often thought that about Lockerbie. We live under the flight path for flights to America from Heathrow - they almost always fly over North Yorkshire - and I remember at the time of Lockerbie thinking that give or take a few minutes that could have been us. As you say - fate delivers.

The Weaver of Grass said...

Yes Dave - I think it affected us all, as I am sure the disaster in 1917 in Halifax did at the time - but of course a generation dies out and with it the emotion - all that survives in the story of it.

The Weaver of Grass said...

This is probably true, Red Clover - maybe we need one in order to thoroughly appreciate the other.

The Weaver of Grass said...

There are plenty of those about, Leenie - I wonder whether we can sense such things when we stand in a spot - they say some people can.

The Weaver of Grass said...

Heather - I suppose it was tantamount to an earthquake really - I looked at those poor people in L'Aquilla last week - how does one cope in such a situation?

The Weaver of Grass said...

Yes, poet - i suppose it was because the Titanic was British. Had I not gone to maritime Canada I would never have heard of the Halifax explosion.
Did you read totalfeckineejit's poem on my comments page - I thought it excellent.

The Weaver of Grass said...

I have always spent any spare money I might have on travelling reader wil - I aim to see as many places as I can while I am able to do so.

The Weaver of Grass said...

EB Perhaps all such disasters slip away EB. I am going to New York shortly and intend to see Ground Zero - but I feel that is already slipping away - perhaps our minds have to let go of such things and distance helps us forget too, I think.

The Weaver of Grass said...

Gramma ann - there was little research as I had been there a couple of years ago and was told of the tragedy. Halifax is a very beautiful little place - very reminiscent of Norwegian coastal towns I thought.

The Weaver of Grass said...

Willow - sadly in the churchyard there are two children buried who were never identified and whom nobody claimed - I find that very sad indeed.

The Weaver of Grass said...

Arija - you seem to have travelled about a lot. Canada is one of my favourite countries - I am going there again shortly. I particularly love the East Coast.

The Weaver of Grass said...

Yes Fiona - some places are like that aren't they? Am looking forward to your blog on Keld to Muker - if you wait a week or two all the mountain pansies and cranesbill will be out (there is an embroidery in there somewhere I always feel.)

BT said...

Such sad stories in such a peaceful looking town. That graveyard looks so sad and 2 children unclaimed. That's even worse. I presume the parents were killed.

Janice Thomson said...

Gosh I live here and have never heard of the Mont Blanc explosion. That is a tremendous loss of life for the times as well. Thanks for the info - I will research this a little more.