Friday, 3 September 2010
It is twenty-five years ago today since they located the wreck of the Titanic on the sea bed of the Atlantic, off the coast of Nova Scotia. Even before the film glamourised it, the sinking of the Titanic in April 1912 had settled into history as a fact known by most people. Apparently they are still wrangling over who owns the wreck on the sea bed as artefacts brought up from it are much sought-after and thus money-making.
In 2003 the farmer and I went on a tour of Maritime Canada and our first stop was in the beautiful port of Halifax. It was here, in 1912, that the survivors/dead who were recovered were brought, as it was the nearest landfall. There is a surreal atmosphere in the cemetery (photograph above) where the graves are laid out in the shape of the prow of a boat, and where quite a few, including two small children, were never identified. 121 of the dead are buried there. Over 1500 died.
But that was not the only tragedy to fall on Halifax. On December 6th 1917, quite soon in fact after the Titanic disaster, the French munitions ship 'Mont Blanc' blew up in the narrows as it called for a brief stop on its way to New York with munitions for the First World War. The explosion was the largest man-made explosion in history before the advent of the atom bomb and it killed 1963 people and maimed another 9000. It also destroyed large parts of Halifax and Dartmouth.
There are still a few people alive who can remember the disaster. But Halifax remembers it regularly by tolling bells on a huge memorial. The town has been completely rebuilt. It is a beautiful place.
The third photograph shows the entrance to the harbour. It is here that the boats carrying the survivors and the dead who could be located after the Titanic disaster would dock. Because the imagery of the Titanic is so large to most of us, it is a rather solemn place to stand.
The holiday, which then toured Novia Scotia and Cape Breton Island (and Anne of Green Gables country) was one of the most wonderful holidays we have ever had - and that is saying something.
To think that the Titanic now lies on the sea bed being fought over is just ridiculous - the power of money, I suppose.