N.S. aboriginal band drafting plan to rebuild community destroyed in Halifax Explosion

HALIFAX -- A Nova Scotia aboriginal band is drafting ambitious plans to rebuild a community on the site of a Mi'kmaq village that was obliterated by the Halifax Explosion nearly a century ago.

See Full Article

Black-and-white photos taken at the turn of the last century show a collection of wigwams close to the shoreline at the narrowest part of Halifax harbour.

The Mi'kmaq called it Turtle Grove.

Some of the descendants of those who lived there, members of the Millbrook First Nation, want to develop the site to include a mix of residential and commercial properties.

The band, which is no stranger to commercial success, has tentative plans to build a boardwalk, marina, ferry terminal and residential units with office and retail space, some of which would be made available to band members.

About 900 members live on the existing reserve in the Truro area, an hour's drive north of Halifax. Another 900 live off the reserve, many of them in the Halifax area.

"That would be reserve land (and) that would create a desire (for band members) to be there," says chief Bob Gloade. "We're also looking at some cultural components and marking the history of the residents ... There could be a monument."

At least six families were living at Turtle Grove in December 1917 when a Belgian relief ship and a French vessel carrying munitions collided only a few hundred metres from the village, Gloade says.

The resulting blast and tidal wave razed Turtle Grove, killing many of its residents and almost 2,000 others in the surrounding area, making it the worst disaster in Canadian history.

To this day, a section of what was once Turtle Grove remains empty. The small tree-lined cove sits idle and overgrown in the shadow of a large, gas-fired generating station known as Tuft's Cove.

The humble site will soon be declared reserve land as part of an outstanding Mi'kmaq claim - though Gloade says there's a problem.

"The biggest hurdle that we're running into is firming up how much land we can develop so we can plan it out properly."

The 3.9-hectare site is stretched so thinly along the shoreline that it would be impossible to develop properly, he says.

The band wants to buy more land, but that could take a long time.

The site is adjacent to Shannon Park, a 33-hectare former military community built by the Department of National Defence after the Second World War. Abandoned by 2003, it includes more than 400 empty apartment units, a store, two schools, two churches, an arena, swimming pool and community centre.

In March 2014, the Canada Lands Company -- the federal government's real estate arm -- bought 33 hectares of Shannon Park for $4 million.

The Crown corporation presented three development proposals to the public last November and a preferred concept is expected to be submitted for municipal approval this spring.

Demolition at the site started earlier this month. The Millbrook band is a partner with the contractor, Dexter Construction.

Gloade says talks with Canada Lands are moving slowly.

"There's been an interest and a willingness to work with us up until recently and there's kind of a delay and a lack of working relationship with them," he said.

Chris Millier, Canada Lands' director of real estate, said the federal agency has been working with the band since the project started.

"We consider them an extremely important stakeholder," he said in an interview. "Millbrook is a sovereign entity. Canada Lands would never suppose to tell them what they can and can't do with their property."

As for the band's desire to enlarge its footprint, Millier says the agency won't be in a position to talk about that until the Shannon Park project has received planning and design approvals.

"We don't envision lands being made available to the market much before 2018 or 2019," he said.



Advertisements

Latest Canada & World News

  • British foreign secretary 'positive and optimistic' on Trump

    World News CTV News
    Promises, pomp, protests as Donald Trump sworn in Latest updates: Trump returns to White House after celebrations Source
  • 16 killed in fiery bus crash on Italian highway

    World News CTV News
    ROME -- Italian police say 16 people died when a bus carrying Hungarian school students returning home from France crashed into the side of a highway near Verona. Thirty-nine people survived. Police commander Geralomo Lacquanita said the bus crashed and burst into flames just before midnight. Source
  • World jittery about Trump's 'America first' inaugural speech

    World News CTV News
    President Donald Trump's inaugural speech promised "America first" policy, but offered no specifics about America's place in the world. The billionaire businessman and reality television star -- the first president who had never held political office or high military rank -- promised to stir a "new national pride" and protect America from the "ravages" of countries he says have stolen U.S. Source
  • El Chapo's new home: a jail that held mobsters, terrorists

    World News CTV News
    NEW YORK -- In the heart of bustling lower Manhattan sits one of the country's most secure federal lockups -- and the new home of Mexican drug lord Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman. Guzman, who pleaded not guilty on Friday to charges he ran one of the world's biggest drug-trafficking operations, can expect to be kept in a special unit inside the drab 12-story Metropolitan Correctional Center, where such other high-profile, high-risk inmates as Gambino crime family boss John Gotti and several former…
  • 38 hospitalized after nightclub fire in Romanian capital

    World News CTV News
    BUCHAREST, Romania -- Authorities say 38 people have received hospital treatment after a fire broke out at a popular nightclub in the Romanian capital. The fire erupted early Saturday at the upmarket Bamboo nightclub in northern Bucharest. Source
  • Vancouver-area peak named for deceased search and rescue volunteer

    Canada News CTV News
    VANCOUVER - A mountain peak on British Columbia's North Shore is being named in honour of a long-time leader in the province's search and rescue community. Premier Christy Clark has announced a 1,425-metre peak northeast of North Vancouver will be called Tim Jones Peak. Source
  • Police were hoping to rescue Likneses and Nathan O'Brien at Garland family farm, court hears [Video]

    Canada News Toronto Sun
    Police conducted a frantic search of Douglas Garland's family farm in hopes of rescuing a Calgary couple and their grandson who had disappeared days earlier, court heard Friday. But Calgary police homicide Det. Mike Shute, who helped arrange the raid by the RCMP's emergency response team, said no one was found, dead, or alive, during the July 4, 2014, search. Source
  • Canadian caught with nearly 60 kilos of cocaine sentenced to 10 years in U.S.

    Canada News Toronto Sun
    A 37-year-old Canadian who was caught with 59 kilos of cocaine has been sentenced to 10 years in jail in U.S. District Court in Seattle. The U.S. Department of Justice said Friday that Martin Briand, who is also a French citizen, was sentenced for conspiracy to distribute cocaine after the cocaine was seized in December 2009. Source
  • Women's March on Washington about much more than Trump

    World News CTV News
    Hundreds of thousands of women plan to march through the streets of the U.S. capital on President Donald Trump’s first full day in office, to send a bold message to the new administration: women’s rights are human rights, and the divisive tone of the campaign will not be tolerated in the nation’s highest office. Source
  • Canada's last Armenian genocide survivor dies at age 107

    Canada News CTV News
    A Montreal woman believed to have been the last Canadian to have survived the Armenian genocide died on Thursday, just weeks shy of her 108th birthday. Born in 1909, Knar Bohjelian Yemenidjian was only six years old in 1915 when the Ottoman Turks began their massacre. Source