HALIFAX – It was a day that forever changed the city and its people.
On December 6, 1917, SS Mont Blonc —; a French cargo ship fully loaded with explosives —; collided with the Norwegian vessel SS Imo in Halifax Harbour.
The resulting explosion killed 2,000 people, wounded another 9,000 and left half of the city’s population homeless.
WATCH: Historical footage of #HalifaxExplosion, which happened 98 years ago on this date. #Halifax pic.twitter老域名购买/q9N1IYwfyF
— Rebecca Lau (@RebeccaLau) December 6, 2015
To mark the 98th anniversary of the tragedy, a memorial service was held at Fort Needham Memorial Park Sunday morning.
Halifax Explosion survivor recalls tragedy
Among the attendees was Cecilia Coolen, who was just 10 days old and in her cradle when the explosion hit.
“They didn’t have cribs in those days, they had cradles so it wasn’t too high,” she said.
“In the explosion, the cradle was thrown outside and I was against the wall. I didn’t appear to be hurt but I didn’t walk until I was three.”
Coolen says her father was one of 45 men who were working on the Halifax waterfront at the time of the explosion. Eight survived the tragedy, leading the parish priest to call them the “lucky eight.”
“[My mother] was so afraid that dad was killed that day because a lot of men on the waterfront were killed,” Coolen said.
“When he came home she almost fainted. She didn’t expect to see him again. It must have been very emotional for them.”
Marking a somber anniversary
In the days following the explosion, the city of Boston provided assistance by sending medical staff and supplies.
Each year, Halifax sends Boston a tree to say thank you and Mayor Mike Savage was in Boston last week for the annual lighting of that tree.
Savage says Boston mayor Marty Walsh has expressed an interest in visiting Halifax in two years to mark the tragedy’s 100th anniversary.
“It’s obviously a sad occasion but it’s also the story of a community that refuses to be knocked down,” Savage said.
“Those people stay in our hearts. They always will and we commemorate them with great reverence today.”