City nails new Halifax Explosion memorial

Video tour: No boring plaques among Needham park 100th anniversary additions.

Designer John deWolf at Fort Needham Memorial Park. - NOAH WIDMEYER
Noah Widmeyer
Designer John deWolf at Fort Needham Memorial Park.
When Haligonians gather December 6 at Fort Needham Memorial Park to remember the blast that devastated the city 100 years ago, they will find some informative architecture has been added to the grounds around the old bell tower monument. The new commemorative elements don’t take the form of strenuous plaques droning on about the Imo, the Mont Blanc and the snow storm that exacerbated the damage, but instead feature brief, thoughtful designs. This is memorial as graceful public art.

Among the recent HX 100 installations are a staircase that reads “Richmond’—the name of the community the explosion destroyed—when you’re facing up it from the bottom, and Vince Coleman’s last Morse code message cut into corten steel (reminiscent of a ship’s hull). Details are intricately placed throughout the park, a nice alternative to a tribute bench. Although there are some new benches, complete with hidden facts related to the explosion itself.

The HRM invested $2.7 million to revitalize the site, hiring Ekistics Planning & Design to develop the look. John deWolf, a designer and Halifax native who has worked on signage projects for Disney, Chicago Park District, Yale University and Parks Canada, was part of the creative team. In this video he gives a guided tour of some of Needham’s changes.

Support The Coast

At a time when the city needs local coverage more than ever, we’re asking for your help to support independent journalism. We are committed as always to providing free access to readers, particularly as we confront the impact of COVID-19 in Halifax and beyond.

Read more about the work we do here, or consider making a donation. Thank you for your support!

Comments (0)

Add a comment

Add a Comment

Poll

For a couple weeks at this time of year, the blooming cherry trees on Park Avenue make for the ultimate photo backdrop in the city. But what’s the most photogenic location year-round in HRM?

Get more Halifax

The Coast Daily email newsletter is your extra dose of the city Monday through Friday. Sign up and go deep on Halifax.