The Coldest December

A Short Story Collection to Remember the Halifax Explosion

Original Stories by Nova Scotia Authors: Sheila McDougall, Phil Yeats, Lawren Snodgrass, Catherine A. MacKenzie, Polly J. Brown, Diane Lynn McGyver, Cheryl Lynn Davis, Bronwen Piper, Barbara-Jean Moxsom, Liana Olive Quinn and Annemarie Hartnett.

Silenced Memories

Lawren Snodgrass

The Coldest DecemberThe warm breeze rustled the leaves on the potato plants as Wilber Coulson pulled weeds with a long-handled hoe. The showers the evening before and the warm July day had made the pesky plants explode overnight. Although Mathilda planned to weed, he insisted she rest instead. In her condition, she needn’t be in the sun working when he could tidy the garden after work. Their son Everett also helped with the chores while she recovered from the most recent bout of bronchitis. Doc Fraser left little doubt her illness would not clear unless she rested and avoided her womanly chores.

Wilber paused for a moment, wiped his brow and leant onto the hoe to stare off at the harbour a few miles away. From his vantage point on Break Heart Hill, he could see the growing cities of Dartmouth and Halifax, their streets divided by the deep body of water. From this distance, he could not make out people, but he knew they were there. Given the hour, most workers had gone home for the night, yet many remained on the docks, loading or unloading and tending to ships either bound for overseas or arriving from there. The war created traffic jams in the harbour he had not seen for more than twenty years.

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