Bells may ring again for Halifax Explosion's 100th anniversary
Nearly a century ago the bells were donated in memory of people who died in the blast
Halifax is looking for a company to restore and operate the bells at Fort Needham Park in time for the 100th anniversary of the Halifax Explosion in 2017.
For decades the bells rang out as people gathered in Halifax's north end to commemorate the 1917 harbour collision between the Mont Blanc and the Imo, which resulted in an explosion that killed 2,000 people and injured 9,000 others. One of the ships was carrying munitions bound for Europe and the battlefields of the First World War.
Over time the bells have fallen into disrepair. At last year's ceremony they didn't play at all.
"They've been hit and miss," outgoing Coun. Jennifer Watts said. "It would have been inappropriate to play them."
In the 1920's Barbara Orr Thompson donated 10 bells in memory of the family members she lost in the explosion. The bells were moved to the Haifax Explosion Memorial Bell Tower in Fort Needham Park in 1985. A decade later four more bells were added to the system.
Now Halifax officials want all 14 bells restored and a modern, electronic system installed. The new system would allow the bells to chime through the day and with different sounds.
"At Christmas we can play Christmas chimes or traditional church music, so this will expand our playbook," municipal spokesman Brendan Elliott said.
Users still would be able to plug in an organ or use a laptop, Elliott said.
It's unclear how much the project will cost but he pointed out that it is specialized work.
The revamped bells are just part of the municipality's plan for the 100th anniversary of the Halifax Explosion, which also includes anniversary events, a grant program to encourage commemorative projects and landscaping at the Fort Needham Park.
The municipality's request for proposals for the bell tower work noted the hope is to provide place for the community to reflect on and remember the disaster.