Saturday, August 15, 2009

Disaster Prone Halifax

Michael was not very happy with our tour of Halifax. It was too long, and he was not at all happy about our last stop in Fairview Cemetery in a rather low-rent part of town. Michael refused to take pictures here. The picture below is from Google Search, and looks very much like what we saw.

Here are the graves of victims of the Titanic disaster of 1912 in Fairview Cemetery. There are 2 other cemeteries with victims, but the majority of those recovered were buried here together in a plot of land bought by White Star, the company that owned the Titanic. The tombstones are standard issue paid for by White Star. If families wanted anything extra, they had to pay for it. Most of the graves are of unknown fatalities. Some of them are crew, including one J. Dawson, a coal trimmer, who supposedly was the inspiration for Lionardo di Caprio's Jack Dawson in that movie from almost 10 years ago. All the recovery efforts for the Titanic disaster began out of Halifax. All the bodies that could be recovered, about 300, were brought here. Some were claimed by families and shipped home. The rest were buried in Halifax.
Michael considered our presence here to be an intrusion, and he may be right. The graves look very walked-upon. I get the impression that White Star's first consideration was expense. The cemetery looks to me like it was always meant for those who worried about the cost.

An even worse catastrophe befell Halifax directly in 1917. A ship collided with another ship carrying high explosive munitions for the First World War. They both caught fire in the harbor narrows. Twenty minutes later, a huge explosion devastated northern Halifax and the towns facing the harbor. Over 2000 people died. It was the biggest accidental explosion in history.

Here is a photograph of the explosion in 1917

Here is the devastation caused by the explosion in a picture taken days later.

This was all new to me. I had always known about the Texas City Disaster of 1947, a similar ship explosion that killed over 500 people, but I did not know about this one.

This is another reason why we travel, education.

1 comment:

Göran Koch-Swahne said...

Interesting stories. I had never heard about the second.