National Treasure #80: Vince Coleman

In December 1917, the Halifax explosion killed about 2,000 and injured 9,000.

The blast was the largest man-made explosion prior to the development of nuclear weapons, releasing the equivalent energy of roughly 2.9 kilotons of TNT. – Wikipedia

Patrick Vincent Coleman was the 45-year-old train dispatcher who returned to his telegraph post to warn away an incoming passenger train.

“Hold up the train. Ammunition ship afire in harbor making for Pier 6 and will explode. Guess this will be my last message. Good-bye boys.”

Historians differ on the exact outcome of Coleman’s message.  Were trains held up because of it?  If so, how many lives were saved?  Did the message have the effect of alerting first responders along the railway line, speeding relief?

I don’t know.  And it doesn’t do to exaggerate.

But I do know he was just a regular guy who died while trying to save people by doing his job.

 

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2 Comments

  1. Laurna Tallman

    I think Canada has been built on an incalculable number of people, men and women, who have made it their job to put the welfare of others ahead of themselves. We do well to remember these heroic examples, sung and unsung.

    1. Isabel Gibson

      Laurna – I think that’s right. I find that thinking about these folks – who do so much for so little renown – helps to balance my annoyance with celebrities – who have so much renown for so little reason.

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