I lived in downtown Halifax for a few years and I loved it. I live just outside the downtown core now but when I lived downtown I felt alive. The city is vibrant with art, shopping, music and nightlife against a backdrop of a seaport city built up around the Halifax Harbor. I always felt like I had energy and I really appreciated being immersed in the downtown culture. Now, I’m a sensitive sort and by that I mean I can sense things around me. Things that maybe a lot of people don’t see or simply choose not to. I’m also very empathetic so I get a strong sense of emotion from those around me. I feel anxiety in large groups of people because the feelings are intense. So when I moved in to an apartment on Barrington Street which is one of the oldest streets that runs the length of the harbor. I started having weird dreams after I was there for a while, really intense lucid dreams. I’d often wake up confused and afraid reaching immediately for my bedside lamp. One of these nights I woke up having fallen asleep with my lamp on and when I looked to my right in the very narrow space between the wall and my bed, stood a little girl. She looked to be about 8 or so, had long brown stringy dirty hair, she wore a dirty and burned nightgown that looked from the early 1900’s and she was burned on one side of her face. I couldn’t tell if I was awake and thinking I must still be dreaming, I pinched my left arm- hard. She was still there. I reached out my hand to touch her arm and she shook her head at me “no”, it was at this point I sat up and screamed waking up my roommate.
I had learned about the Halifax Explosion all my life growing up. My grandmother had been a toddler at the time it happened and they lived about 25 -30 minutes away from the explosion; it STILL rocked her house. Now, seeing how as the explosion took place in the harbor and I was a just a stone’s toss away I decided to do a little research. One of my favorite restaurants downtown, The Henry House was only 2 blocks away; it’s a National Historic Site that has been turned in to a quaint little pub/fine dining restaurant. It’s a 2 1/2 story stone building built in 1834 and was originally owned and built for an architect mason and later housed one of the Fathers of Confederacy, William A. Henry; after Dec 6, 1917 however, I read that it had housed barracks and quarters for the generals and higher ranking officers that were assisting with rescue efforts. My building (well, where it now stood) was at that time barracks for lower ranking military assisting with the rescue effort. Seeing how as it was close to the scene of devastation, I read that it wasn’t uncommon to bring survivors back for warmth and food until they could be sent to the hospital. Our city was devastated and if you’re like me, that whole area downtown still feels like it’s under a heavy fog sometimes. The kind of fog that makes your skin tingle and the hairs on the back of your neck stand up. So many people lost their lives it’s impossible to try to find the identity of that little girl who I got the feeling died from her injuries there. I know I could pick her out in a photo if I saw one, I’ll never forget her frightened and dirty little face for as long as I live.
Live Humbly, Be Charitable, Live Graciously,
Newspaper Photo Courtesy of The Chronicle Herald, Nova Scotia. thechronicleherald.ca/novascotia/1172057-the-halifax-explosion-could-it-happen-again
Henry House Photo c. 1879. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Henry_House_(Halifax)