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Piano with scars from Halifax Explosion on sale

Bobby McLean, left, and Lois Miller pose with a musical relic that survived one of Halifax's darkest days and is going up for sale.
THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jennifer Grudic
Bobby McLean, left, and Lois Miller pose with a musical relic that survived one of Halifax's darkest days and is going up for sale.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jennifer Grudic

HALIFAX, N.S.

A musical relic that survived one of Halifax's darkest days with only minor scars is going up for sale.

Lois Miller says her grandfather bought a Stohlman New York piano from Phinney's Music Shop on Barrington Street, installing it in the family home decades ago.

But the century-old piano was forever marred by bits of glass that shattered during the Halifax Explosion, causing dozens of small indentations down one side of the instrument.

The blast on Dec. 6, 1917, was caused by a collision in the nearby harbour between two ships, one of which was carrying wartime explosives.

The damage, on the side facing the shop window, meant her grandfather, Stanley Robson, could buy the piano on sale.

“We grew up knowing it had survived the Halifax Explosion,” Miller said.

“We would feel the marks on the side of the piano where the shards of glass had been embedded.”

Miller said the piano still plays beautiful music even after the powerful blast and being trucked to their homes in different parts of the province.

But she says she and her husband have decided to sell the piano – she is open to offers – or see it go to a museum for everyone to enjoy.

“I thought, the piano has a story, it's usable, it produces good music. I'd like to see it go somewhere that people would enjoy it and appreciate its heritage,” said Miller.

The Halifax Explosion killed about 2,000 people, wounded 9,000 and flattened a wide swath of the port city, including a Mi'kmaq village on the other side of the harbour. It remains one of Canada's worst human-caused disasters.

Halifax will mark the 100th anniversary of the explosion on Dec. 6 with a memorial service at the newly revamped Fort Needham Memorial Park in the city's north end.

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