Halifax residents are being invited to put a black bow on their doors to mark the anniversary of a tragic event that forever changed the city.
In 1917, the Halifax Explosion killed 2,000 people, injured 9,000 and destroyed buildings in a 2.6-kilometre radius.
As the city prepares to honour the centennial anniversary on Dec. 6, a Hydrostone Market business is offering people free kits to make the ribbons.
“It’s such an interesting part of our history,” said Susan McIntosh, the owner of Props Floral Design. “It’s such a huge story.”
The florist shop is located in the historic Hydrostone neighbourhood, which was rebuilt following the Halifax Explosion after all of the buildings were destroyed.
McIntosh says that connection with the tragedy inspired her to make the kits available this week. A few customers have already taken a kit, and shared stories from their own family history.
“I think it’s created a lot of conversation, with people coming to the store talking about things we haven’t heard before,” she said.
“Everyone has a little story about someone who we forget. There were so many people affected by the explosions.”
While the kits are free, McIntosh is accepting donations for Veith House, a community building in the north end.
The former orphanage was also rebuilt after the 1917 disaster, after the previous building was destroyed by the explosion.
When SS Mont-Blanc and the SS Imo collided in 1917 in the Halifax Harbour just a couple kilometres away from the orphanage, the matrons took the 27 children and hid in the basement.
24 of the children and three women died.
Gail Gardiner, the executive director of Veith House, says she was happy to hear of the ribbon project and honoured to receive the donations. Veith House now houses community programming, space for non-profit groups, and a children’s daycare.
“It is something that does touches us a lot,” she said.
“We are the keepers of that history and a lot of it is our role and our responsibility to kind of make sure that those children and the matrons are remembered.”