85-Yr-Old Woman Wanted To Visit Uncle’s Grave Her Whole Life, So Group Steps In To Help.

wish of lifetime canada

Marlyn McClean knows the impact one catastrophic event can have on affected communities and families. She grew up in the aftermath of such a tragedy and felt the lasting effects for herself.

December 6, 1917, will always be a painful chapter in Canada’s history. That morning, a Norwegian vessel collided with a French boat carrying explosives, causing the world’s largest man-made explosion at the time.


Wikipedia

In what is now known as the Halifax Explosion, the Halifax harbor and Richmond district were completely devastated. Many were orphaned and made homeless in an instant. An estimated 9,000 people were injured, while 2,000 others were killed. Marlyn’s beloved uncle was among those who lost their lives.

halifax explosion 1917

Wikipedia

As a little girl, Marlyn saw the loss reflected in her parents’ eyes. But throughout her 85 years, she never really got the chance to visit the site herself. Having worked as an air ambulance nurse most of her life, Marlyn possesses a deep compassion for others. She wanted to feel the full weight of the tragedy and triumph of a city that lost everything and came together to rebuild. She wanted to learn more about her uncle and the other victims; to pay her respects.

marlyn
Wish of a Lifetime Canada

Time was running out to fulfill her dream, though, so she took it to a place she knew could make it happen: Wish of a Lifetime Canada. The nonprofit organization, whose mission is to grant seniors’ lifelong wishes to alleviate isolation, was more than happy to help. And they didn’t disappoint. In June, Marlyn traveled from her home at Chartwell Retirement Residences in Whitby, Ontario, to Halifax, Nova Scotia.

marlyn
Wish of a Lifetime Canada

Thanks to the nonprofit’s generosity, Marlyn spent three days soaking in all the history. During her visit, she enjoyed a private tour of the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic led by Richard MacMichael, who felt honored to help the woman trace her family’s story.

maritime museum of the atlantic
Wish of a Lifetime Canada

“The Wish of a Lifetime program is a tremendous way to thank seniors across Canada for their contributions to their communities and all of us here at the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic were proud to be part of Marlyn’s wish,” Richard said.

maritime museum of the atlantic
Wish of a Lifetime Canada

There, Marlyn also connected with other victims’ families. She met local author Marilyn Elliot Davidson, whose father, despite being blinded in the explosion, went on to become a mechanic.

lunch
Wish of a Lifetime Canada

Marlyn also had the pleasure of talking with a woman named Joanna. Her grandparents’ (pictured below) house had been obliterated in the explosion. But somehow, their tea set remained unscathed.

halifax explosion victims
Wish of a Lifetime Canada

And finally, Marlyn paid her respects to the unnamed victims buried in Fairview Cemetery. There, the memories her mother had shared of her uncle washed over her.

fairview cemetery
Wish of a Lifetime Canada

The trip was everything Marlyn had hoped for and more. “It has given me a boost and I feel that I have really accomplished something at my age,” she said. Visiting the sites in Halifax made her feel even more connected to the tragedy and everyone it affected. It’s a memory she’ll not only cherish forever but pass on to future generations.

fairview cemetery
Wish of a Lifetime Canada

Without Wish of a Lifetime Canada, none of this would have been possible. Please share this story to help spread their mission. You can also check out more of the wishes they’ve granted on Facebook.


This story was submitted by Hannah M.

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