Lac-Mégantic remembers: 1 year later

Commemoration activities to mark the one year anniversary of the train derailment that killed 47 people and destroyed much of Lac-Mégantic’s downtown began at noon on Saturday.

Somber, respectful, and solemn activities planned

Several events planned this weekend to remember the 47 lives lost in last year's tragic train derailment 3:00

Commemoration activities to mark the one year anniversary of the train derailment that killed 47 people and destroyed much of the downtown core of Lac-Mégantic, Que. began at noon on Saturday.

The town said it wants to mark the day in a sombre, respectful, and solemn way.

The main activities are a nighttime walk through part of the new downtown, and two masses at the Saint-Agnès Church on Laval Street.  

The first mass will be presided by local priest Father Steve Lemay at midnight on Sunday.  

He said he wants to try and comfort the population, but he said it's very difficult to prepare the ceremony.

"It’s hard to commemorate what happened when we are still living this tragedy every day," he says. “Our two feet are still in it.”

After the midnight mass, people will be able to participate in an event coined “the walk of the stars.”  At the exact time the runaway train barrelled into town on July 6, people will begin a kilometre-long circuit through the new downtown.  

People can walk all night long if they want to.

Bishop: struck by “deep suffering”

The second mass, set to be held at 11 a.m. ET on Sunday, will be more formal with an honour guard and many dignitaries set to attend.

Father Steve Lemay, right, will preside the midnight mass at Lac-Megantic's Saint-Agnès Church.

Father Lemay asked the Bishop of Sherbrooke, Luc Cyr, to preside so he can spend the mass closer to his congregation.

“I need the time to mark the anniversary with those who are dear to me, with my community,” says Father Lemay.

Bishop Cyr met with people in the community to prepare for the mass. He said he’s struck by how deeply they are still suffering.

About 410 police officers, firefighters and ambulance personnel who helped in the days after the derailment will make up the honour guard.  

Premier Philippe Couillard as well as Canada's Governor General David Johnston and his wife Sharon Johnston will attend.

A town spokesperson said Pauline Marois, who was premier last July, is in Europe.  

A new memorial to the 47 people who died in the Lac-Megantic disaster will be unveiled Sunday afternoon. (Marika Wheeler/CBC)

After the mass a new memorial to the victims will be unveiled.

Other activities to represent the polluted water, air and earth are also planned. They include stocking Lake Mégantic with fish, releasing butterflies and planting a new garden near the local sports centre.

About the Author

Marika Wheeler

CBC Quebec's travelling journalist

Based in Quebec City, Marika travels across the province telling the stories of people who live and work in la belle province for CBC Radio One and