Re­mem­ber­ing five men

Mon­u­ment to be un­veiled in Iona to com­mem­o­rate 100th an­niver­sary of Hal­i­fax Ex­plo­sion

Cape Breton Post - - News - BY JEREMY FRASER jeremy.fraser@cb­post.com Twit­ter: @CBPost_Jeremy

A mon­u­ment ded­i­cated to the 100th an­niver­sary of the Hal­i­fax Ex­plo­sion will be un­veiled in Iona on Friday.

The memo­rial is in mem­ory of those who lost their lives in the tragic ex­plo­sion on Dec. 6, 1917 — specif­i­cally five men from Barra, Scot­land, who had ties to Nova Sco­tia and Cape Bre­ton.

Michael MacNeil, Don­ald H. MacK­in­non, Don­ald S. MacK­in­non, Mal­colm Ma­cLean and Don­ald Camp­bell were work­ing on the SS Cu­raca, which was tied up at Pier 8 in Hal­i­fax har­bour when the SS Mont Blanc, a French cargo ship, col­lided with the Nor­we­gian SS Imo. Ap­prox­i­mately 2,000 peo­ple were killed and an­other 9,000 were in­jured.

The Barra men, between the ages of 19-25, were killed in­stantly and their bod­ies were never re­cov­ered.

John Zareski, a Chezzetcook res­i­dent and pres­i­dent of the Friends of Barra So­ci­ety, pro­posed the mon­u­ment in mem­ory of the men af­ter re­turn­ing home from a trip to Barra, Scot­land in 2015.

“Some­body at the bed and break­fast I was stay­ing at had told me there were five men from Barra who were killed in the ex­plo­sion,” said Zareski. “He told me the loss was still re­mem­bered on the is­land, so I came home and did some re­search.”

With the strong ties between the Isle of Barra and Iona, Zareski thought plac­ing a mon­u­ment in the com­mu­nity to re­mem­ber the men was im­por­tant.

“There are lots and lots of sto­ries of the Hal­i­fax Ex­plo­sion, but I think this one story has never came to light be­fore,” he said. “There are a lot of peo­ple by the name of MacNeil, MacK­in­non, Ma­cLean and

“There are lots and lots of sto­ries of the Hal­i­fax Ex­plo­sion, but I think this one story has never came to light be­fore.”

John Zareski, pres­i­dent of the Friends of Barra So­ci­ety

Camp­bell that live in Cape Bre­ton and I think they would be in­ter­ested in this project.”

The mon­u­ment will be un­veiled in Iona as part of the Clan MacNeil Day fes­tiv­i­ties.

The mon­u­ment was re­cently placed near St. Columba Church in Iona, how­ever the of­fi­cial un­veil­ing will take place on Friday at 5:45 p.m., fol­low­ing a church ser­vice as part of Clan MacNeil Day.

Along with the Iona mon­u­ment, a sec­ond memo­rial will be un­veiled in Hal­i­fax on Dec. 6.

MacNeil said the cost of the two mon­u­ments was just un­der $10,000 and the money was raised by the Friends of Barra So­ci­ety.

The money raised, over and above the mon­u­ments, will go to­wards schol­ar­ships for those want­ing to study Gaelic. As of now, the so­ci­ety has $13,000 for the schol­ar­ships.

Other events sched­uled for Clan MacNeil Day on Friday in­clude a tea and so­cial at 2 p.m., a free con­cert at 2:30 p.m., a hot buf­fet sup­per at 6:30 p.m. and a square dance at 8:30 p.m., all tak­ing place at the Christ­mas Is­land fire hall.

SUB­MIT­TED PHOTO/JOHN ZARESKI

Shown is a mon­u­ment to hon­our the 100th an­niver­sary of the 1917 Hal­i­fax Ex­plo­sion, specif­i­cally the tragic loss of five men from Barra, Scot­land, who had ties to Cape Bre­ton.

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