Nova Scotia

QEH time capsule holds historic artifacts

A piece of Halifax history was unveiled Thursday at a ceremony at Citadel High School.
Newspapers from 1941 were in a time capsule found in the old Queen Elizath High School in Halifax. ((CBC))
A piece of Halifax history was unveiled Thursday at a ceremony at Citadel High School.

A time capsule from the old Queen Elizabeth High School was cracked open for the first time in 70 years. There was a lot of curiosity about the tiny old box, not much bigger than a phone book.

It was discovered last month among the debris at the QEH demolition site. It was found tucked away in the cornerstone of the old school.

QEH opened in September 1942. It closed in 2007 after 65 years of use, and Citadel High School opened nearby.

Former QEH students from the early 1940s were in attendance, including 82-year-old Wallace Matthews who was very excited for the unveiling.

"Oh yes, very much and very much like the first day I entered QEH, I'm a little anxious as well," he said.

QEH graduate Jean Brown attended the opening of the time capsule. ((CBC))
Jean Brown, who graduated from QEH in 1945, said she couldn't wait to go to the new school.

"I was in Grade 10 in '42, I was 15, I was dying to go to school," she said. "And I remember my dad teased me all summer saying, 'It's going to be turned into a hospital, there's a war on.'"

Many current high school students, including Laura Brunt, were also excited to see what the box contained.

"My grandmother, my father and my brother all graduated from Queen Elizabeth High School," she said. "So it's really exciting to be here for that part of history being opened up."

The box was carefully cut open to reveal the memories that were trapped inside.

A list of teachers' salaries for the year 1941 was in the QEH time capsule. ((CBC))
Among the artifacts were newspapers from September 1941, a Canadian nickel and a board of school commissioners report showing teachers annual salaries ranging from $1,200 to $1,500.

Fran Williams, a former QEH Head Girl, was hoping it would contain more.

"Well, I think maybe I might have thought there would be a little more than that," she said. "But it is still exciting to see it."

Today's high school students mingled with the elderly QEH grads as they read the old newspapers, dominated by headlines about the Second World War.

Students used their cell phones to capture the old images.

"I'm going to go home and show my family and [go] up and show my grandmother the pictures," Laura said. "She was really excited when I told her I was going to come and take pictures for her."

The demolition of QEH began last October but there have been numerous delays, including a dispute with a contractor. Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal hired a new contractor after dismissing Demolition Resources Ltd. in late June.

It is scheduled for completion by late September or early October