Remembering five men
Monument to be unveiled in Iona to commemorate 100th anniversary of Halifax Explosion
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.
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.