Halifax Explosion committee to decide on contents of new time capsule

A new time capsule for the 100th anniversary of the Halifax Explosion will replace one hidden away in 1985.

New time capsule for 100th anniversary of the disaster to replace one hidden away in 1985

The Norwegian steamship Imo is beached on the Dartmouth shore after the 1917 Halifax Explosion. Its collision with the French munitions ship Mont-Blanc sparked the fire that set off the explosion. (Nova Scotia Archives & Record Management/Canadian Press)

What message does Halifax want to send to the future?

The advisory committee for the 100th anniversary of the Halifax Explosion will tackle that question during a public meeting this week about what to put in a new time capsule tied to the event.

The capsule will replace one that was encased in 1985 at the memorial monument in Fort Needham Park. The park overlooks where the Norwegian steamship Imo, which carried Belgian relief supplies, collided with the French munitions ship Mont-Blanc on Dec. 6, 1917, sparking the fire that set off the explosion, killing about 2,000 and injuring 10,000 more.

The time capsule from 1985 will be opened this year.

The Halifax Explosion memorial at Fort Needham Park is the site of the 1985 time capsule. (Jeorge Sadi/CBC)

The committee already has a list of items in mind for a new time capsule, but is open to any suggestions that might be brought up at a meeting next Thursday at 3 p.m. at the Leeds Street campus of the Nova Scotia Community College.

"All ideas are on the table as long as we meet the guidelines with regards to preservation," said committee chair Craig Walkington.

Dozens of suggested items

Among the ideas that will be considered on Thursday:

  • A program from the 100th anniversary event program.
  • A coin.
  • A stamp.
  • A poem by Nova Scotia-born poet George Elliott Clarke.
  • Official letters from the mayor, the premier, the prime minister and the Queen.
  • A bibliography of Halifax Explosion publications.
  • A catalogue of contemporary works of art specific to the explosion.
  • A map of areas damaged by the explosion.
  • Explosion artifacts.
  • A local restaurant menu.
  • A grocery receipt from 2017, along with copies of 1985 and 1917 receipts.

In all, there are 24 line items on the agenda about the time capsule's contents.

The Halifax Explosion time capsule, encased in the Fort Needham Park memorial, will be replaced for the 100th anniversary. (Jeorge Sadi/CBC)

"We felt that we needed to set those parameters first so we would be able to arrive at a list of potential items to go in more quickly, and also to ensure that we wouldn't run into a situation where we get so many requests to put in items that we run out of room because there is a limited space for this time capsule," Walkington said.

The items need to reflect the anniversary event's principles — guidelines such as being educational and respectful — and also follow conservation guidelines so that the items inside aren't ruined before their scheduled retrieval in 2067.

Walkington said the time capsule will be secreted away after the 100th anniversary event has taken place, to allow items such as newspaper articles about the ceremonies to be placed inside.

After Thursday's meeting, the committee will begin finalizing the list of time capsule contents and work with city staff to make sure it's suitable, he said. 

Lt. Victor Magnus had his camera at the ready in the aftermath of the Halifax Explosion. (Victor Magnus)