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Exploded Identity: A Saga of the Halifax Explosion

Catherine M. Mildon

Mum was determined to have the housecleaning finished by the middle of April. Just about every room had been gone over from top to bottom. Drawers had been emptied, ceilings had been whitewashed, new wall paper had been put on the kitchen, bedding and curtains blew on the line on sunny days.

Tonight Gram and Aunt Sadie arrived after supper to help Mum wash all the dishes on the pantry shelves. Cliff and I had been given the task of using Silvo to clean the silver cutlery.

Suddenly there was a crash that sounded like an explosion had taken place, either in the house or close by. After looking around, Dad went upstairs to investigate and found a large picture on the floor, surrounded by broken glass. He came to the conclusion that Mum had not placed it securely on the nail  after removing it for cleaning.

Poor Gram was frightened out of her wits and her hands trembled.

She said, “This reminds me of the fear that was created at the time of the Halifax Explosion.”

Speaking of the Halifax Explosion, Catherine M. Mildon remembers that day very well. She was four and half years old and living in Halifax with her seven siblings on the day the city was devastated by an exploding ship in the harbour. The force threw her to the floor as the windows in her home collapsed. In the days, weeks, months and years that followed, this vivid, terrifying moment and the stories of altered lives dominated the daily thoughts and conversations of her family and friends.

Years later she felt driven to record her family experiences and to study thoroughly the record of those awful days. As she wrote, she was struck by the overwhelming determination, heroism and cooperation that the unheralded citizens of Halifax demonstrated in the face of death, destruction and snowstorms.

She and her brothers and sisters were directly involved, as many small children were, in the care and clean-up, in the first week after. There was no school for many weeks so children tended to be used for many tasks.

Catherine was determined to set down the experience of her community. She read everything available, searched the archives of daily newspapers for that dramatic year and wrote the stories her family had retold and retold.

Now in her nineties with health failing, Catherine M. Mildon decided it was time to finish her work and publish it for all to read as, “Exploded Identity: A Saga of the Halifax Explosion”. The 217 pages of documentary fiction are filled with details of the men and women who worked behind the scenes, the events that happened to her family or events she heard about and her memories - such as the sloven wagons that were used to collect the wounded and dead from the streets the first few days during the terrible winter storm that followed.

For more details on purchasing the book, contact

By the way, I’ll be doing a presentation on the Hampton to St. Martins Railway and the communities of Upham, Titusville and Barnesville at the Kings County Historical Society meeting on April 22, 2006 at 2:00 p.m. at the Central Kings Rec Centre, Upham. There will also be displays of photographs. Guests are welcome. 

Query 1468
Rupert - Kerr: I am seeking information on the parents and siblings of David Crandall Rupert, who was born 1835 in Saint John, New Brunswick and married Mary Carline (Carrie) Kerr.
53 Fisher Ave. Apt 2
Fredericton, NB
Canada, E3A 4J1 

Query 1469
Jones - Fowler: Frederick Arthur Jones of Saint John, born 4 Aug 1864, died 21 Nov 1912 was married in Sussex, New Brunswick, 3 Dec 1884 to Charlotte Maria Arnold Fowler, born 9 May 1863, died 13 Nov 1932. I am trying to find their connection to the South African War (1899-1902) as Frederick Jones came into possession of Boer war related artifacts that he collected from men who had served in the war. He does not appear to have served himself. I am wondering if either one of his brothers or Mrs. Jones's brothers served in the war. Jones also owned a furniture and carpet store in Saint John on 16-18 King St. I would be interested to know who worked there with him to see if maybe he acquired these artifacts from one of his employees.
E-mail -

Query 1470
Fleet: Seeking information on James Alexander Fleet, born circa 1839 in either New Brunswick or Nova Scotia, enlisted in the 2nd Massachusetts Infantry in the United States on 23 Apr 1864. On 17 May 1864, he was transferred to the US Navy, where he remained until his discharge on 17 Aug 1865. He later migrated to Australia where he lived for some 40 years until his death on 23 Nov 1909. I have built a Memorial Website,, for all of the American Civil War veterans buried in Australia and New Zealand. I would like to compile enough validated information to add Mr. Fleet to that memorial, so he will always be remembered as a Canadian American Civil War veteran who is buried in Australia.
11 Corndale Street, Loganholme
Queensland, Australia, 4129.
New and Used Genealogical and Historical books of
New Brunswick for sale.

Ruby M. Cusack is a genealogy buff living in New Brunswick, Canada. Send your New Brunswick genealogical queries to her at:  Include your name and mailing address for the benefit of the readers of the newspaper who do not have access to E-mail but could have information to share with you. Please put "Query" followed by the surnames in your query. For more information on submitting queries, visit
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