After a century of silence, historic bells will ring again at Halifax City Hall

·2 min read

HALIFAX — After being silent for more than a century, two massive bells were reinstalled today inside the clock tower at Halifax City Hall — including one that was likely damaged by the Halifax Explosion in 1917.

The Victorian-style building was erected between 1887 and 1890, and the clock in the seven-storey tower was added in 1904.

At least one of the bronze bells being restored was installed some time during that period and is believed to have been damaged when the city was rocked by a massive explosion caused by the collision of two wartime ships in the harbour on Dec. 6, 1917.

It remains unclear when the bells were removed from the tower, but the city says it was likely within two decades of the explosion.

Since 1995, a recording of the bells inside Big Ben — the clock tower at the Palace of Westminster in London — has been piped through loudspeakers to mimic the sound of the original bells.

The reinstalled bells will be rung by an automated system every quarter-hour.

"These historic bells will sound the same as they did over a hundred years ago, and might sound differently than the electronic bells that played (the) recording," the city said in a statement.

The two clock faces on either side of the tower were replaced in 1999.

One of the clocks had been frozen since the explosion in 1917, marking the exact time of the blast: 9:04 a.m.

Its replacement, which faces Duke Street, also remains locked at the same time as a tribute to the almost 2,000 people killed by the explosion and ensuing fires. Another 9,000 were wounded and 25,000 were left homeless.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 30, 2021.

The Canadian Press

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