I’m in a very Hallowe’en mood today. I’m also in Halifax. So why not write about spooky stuff in the big city? I’ve been a big fan of ghosts and spooky stories since I was a kid and I’ve never really grown out of it, so I like the strange and weird things this city has to offer.
One of the biggest parts of Halifax history is that of the Halifax Explosion. On December 6, 1917, two ships collided in the Halifax Harbour. One ship was carrying munitions and subsequently caught on fire before exploding.
All buildings and structures covering nearly 2 square kilometres along the adjacent shore were obliterated, including those in the neighbouring communities of Richmond and Dartmouth. The explosion caused a tsunami in the harbour and a pressure wave of air that snapped trees, bent iron rails, demolished buildings, grounded vessels, and carried fragments of the Mont-Blanc for kilometres. (From Wikipedia)
Until the atomic bomb, this was the largest man-made explosion in history. And there’s a Canadian Heritage Moment about Vince Coleman – a train dispatcher who returned to his post to warn an incoming train about the imminent explosion (Side Note: Canadian Heritage moments are awesome).
So, here are some cool things about living in a city that was once levelled:
The Clock at City Hall is permanently frozen at the exact time of the explosion. Looking at the clock from Duke Street, you can see the exact time that the explosion happened. My dentist is in a building across the street and one time I went in for a cleaning (I don’t like dentists, so I was a little nervous). I kept looking out the window, but the clock wouldn’t change. For a while I thought I was in a special level of hell.
There’s a Church with a haunted window. St. Paul’s Church on Argyle Street has a window with a silhouette of a man in it. There are a couple of stories regarding why the silhouette is there, but one is that an organist was playing at the church, and during the explosion his head was blown off and through the window. Apparently they replaced the glass in the window many times (they’ve since given up), but the silhouette just kept coming back.
Haunted eats anyone? The Five Fisherman restaurant on Argyle Street was once John Snow & Co. Funeral Home. Not only was this place employed for victims of the Titanic (many of the bodies were brought to this building), but it also was a location for stacking coffins after the explosion. Now it’s a restaurant (and a very popular one at that), but it’s also haunted. There are ghost sightings and things flying around, which is really cool. I haven’t eaten there, but there are stories, which I’m sure are 100% true (right?).
And while I hope that the city is never blown up again, the fact that it once was makes it just that much more interesting in my opinion.