Hon. Terry M. Mercer (Deputy Leader of the Senate Liberals):
Honourable senators, tomorrow, December 6, will mark the one hundredth anniversary of the Halifax explosion, the deadly blast that killed 2,000 people, injured 9,000 and left 25,000 Haligonians homeless.
The largest man-made explosion prior to those produced by nuclear weapons, the blast caused massive devastation to the city, especially to the North End and surrounding neighbourhoods.
While the destruction was horrible, the aid was swift, especially from the City of Boston, who sent first responders and supplies as quickly as they could.
Indeed, Nova Scotia continues to send a Christmas tree to thank them for their support when Halifax needed it most.
This year, the tree was particularly impressive to honour the one hundredth anniversary — a 53-foot white spruce donated by Bob and Marion Campbell of Blues Mills, Inverness County, Cape Breton. It was lit in front of over 20,000 people in the Boston Common last Thursday evening.
Premier Stephen McNeil was joined by Boston Mayor Martin Walsh and Halifax Mayor Michael Savage to also unveil a new monument on the Boston Common to honour this important anniversary of the explosion and the special relationship the two cities share.
Tomorrow, I will be attending a Halifax Explosion one hundredth anniversary memorial service at Fort Needham Memorial Park. This is just blocks away from where I grew up and where my grandmother saved the lives of two of my uncles and herself, paving the way for the future birth of my father, and indeed me.
Growing up in the North End, I can tell you that many lives were touched in some way by the Halifax Explosion. I remember as a child my great-grandmother lived with us, and many of her friends who came to visit were missing an eye or, in many cases, two eyes — they were blinded by the explosion. I’m sure Senator McInnis can tell similar stories as well.
We honour their memory and also the efforts of those who did so much to bring the city back from such terrible ruin.
Thank you, honourable senators.