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st george's

halifax made the national news yesterday,
but not for music.  i couldn't let the
burning of st. george's church go without
a mention -- ok, more than a mention.

i was flipping channels last night around
6:55 p.m. and noticed that asn, atv, mitv,
cbc, were all showing photos of smoke
coming from a church in halifax -- i soon
saw that it was st. george's.

immediately i phoned my close friend jim,
who attends there and whose infant daughter
was baptized there.  i talked to his wife
rachel -- jim had left a few minutes earlier
to go down there and see what he could save.

my friend dan and i soon drove downtown.
we drove along the perimeter of the commons.
what a strange scene.  everyone had stopped
playing baseball and whatever else.  they
had stopped to stand and stare at the cloud
of smoke that was billowing over the north
end of the city.  so many people, scattered
over the commons, staring in one direction.
it was as if they were looking at a mushroom
cloud, or something...  it felt very...
apocalyptic, i guess.

dan and i watched as flames licked up from
inside and engulfed the tower, watched as
the cupola tipped over and fell inside the
burnt-out hull that used to be st. george's
church....  st. george's, third oldest
church in halifax, perhaps the most 
architecturally significant church building
in atlantic canada, and considered the finest
example of wooden palladium style in north
america.  architects come from all over to
see it, people here simply call it "the round
church".  (i'd been there myself on a couple of
special occasions -- one was the christening
of jim & rachel's daughter.)

there was gary thorne, rector of the church,
regular contributor to _the coast_ halifax
reader, both orthodox and open-minded, friend
to many...  consoling members, hugging kids,
talking to the tv journalists.  he and some
heroic church members had saved the crucifix,
the tabernacle, artifacts from the 18th and
19th centuries...  my friend jim was there,
just watching by that point.  and a thousand
other people.  literally.

dan and i walked around the perimeter that
that the fire dept and police had established.
on one side the smoke was so thick we choked
as we walked through it.  but to look up from
that angle was strange -- orange-tinted smoke
rushing over our heads, streaming out in a
fairly regular triangular pattern.

when the cupola tipped and fell in, people
screamed, cried, laughed, cheered... what
a strange mix of reactions.  

there's not much left of the roof, and 
nothing much left inside.  it will have to
be rebuilt from the ground up.

the fire was started by a couple of kids,
playing with matches.


     _                                  _     James R. Covey <jrcovey\!/ac.dal.ca>
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