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Children Who Perished in the Orphanage During the Halifax Explosion - May, Melvin and Victor COVEY

Updated: Jan 1, 2021

The story of young May, Melvin and Victor Covey begins with the marriage of their parents, Robie Johnson (or Johnston) COVEY and Hilda Pearl KEDDY on November 18, 1908 in Glen Margaret, Nova Scotia. Robie was a 28 year old fisherman living (born August 28, 1880) in Indian Harbour and Hilda a 16 year old (b. circa 1892) living in East Dover at the time they wed. Robie's parents are listed as Albert and Elizabeth and Hilda's as Joseph and Eva.

They gave birth to their first child, Valeria May COVEY on November 8, 1910 in Indian Harbour. ******On the searchable database for the Halifax Explosion when listing other family members of Melvin, Victor and May, a Covey child is listed as Valerie, age 7, missing, after the explosion. Through my research I have discovered that "Valerie" is Valeria, who is listed as May COVEY on all other records of victims for the Halifax Explosion. She had just celebrated her 7th birthday a day under a month before she was killed.

Second born was Melvin Roy COVEY, born on January 13, 1912 in East Dover. Melvin's age is listed as 6 at the time of the Halifax Explosion. He actually would have been just over a month shy of his 6th birthday when he was killed.

Next came Mildred Pearl COVEY, born on April 28, 1913 in East Dover. She would have been 4 years old when she lost her older sister, May, older brother, Melvin and younger brother, Victor in the explosion.

Robie and Hilda's fourth child, and last son, Victor Allison COVEY, was born on Dominion Day (now known as Canada Day), July 1, 1914 in East Dover. He was only 3 years old when he was killed at the orphanage on December 6, 1917.

On June 5, 1915 the Coveys added a third daughter, tipping the female:male ratio in their family from 3:3 to 4:3. Annie Marguerite COVEY was born in East Dover and went by her middle name, Marguerite. She was only 2 when she lost 3 of her 6 siblings in the explosion.

Less than 2 months before the Halifax Explosion, Hilda Pearl (Keddy) COVEY gave birth to twin girls - her namesakes - Hilda Agnis COVEY and Pearl Beatrice COVEY on September 25, 1917 in East Dover. I am unsure if she died during childbirth, shortly thereafter due to complications during childbirth or if she died of a totally unrelated matter but I do know that the births were registered by Robie COVEY on October 10, 1917 (all other births were registered by the mother) leading me to believe that she was unable to make the registration herself. On records of May, Melvin and Victor's deaths on December 6, 1917, she is listed as predeceased. On a genealogy page I found someone researching this family who had her date of death as September 30, 1917. There is a picture of Robie COVEY and Hilda COVEY's headstone on Find a Grave that lists her year of death as 1917. So at some point between September 25, 1917 and December 6, 1917, Hilda Pearl (Keddy) Covey passed away.

My research to this point has given me no indication that any of the other Covey children besides May, Melvin and Victor were at the orphanage when the explosion occured. After losing his wife and three children in less than two months, tragedy would strike the Covey family again when the twins, Hilda and Pearl became ill a year later. On the twins' first birthday, September 25, 1918, Pearl Covey died after being ill with diarrhea for 3 days. Hilda would be sick for 14 days and pass away on October 9, 1918. Robie was now 38 years old. At only 5 and 3 years of age, Mildred and Marguerite had now lost their mom and 5 siblings.

*****NOTE***** On the searchable database for the Halifax Explosion when listing other family members of Melvin, Victor and May, the twins are listed as one child, Hilda Pearl aged 6 months when in reality they were two babies Hilda and Pearl aged 10 weeks.

Robie Johnson COVEY died a widow at the age of 59 on January 28, 1940. His death certificate was signed by his son-in-law, Frederick TANNER. Frederick TANNER married Mildred COVEY on October 10, 1929 in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Mildred died in 1982 and Frederick in 1988. The two are buried together at Oakridge Memory Gardens in Lower Sackville. Marguerite COVEY married Noah Joseph GRAVES on October 13, 1936 with sister Mildred and her husband, Frederick, signing as witnesses. Noah died in 1975 and Marguerite in 1979. They are buried together in Saint James Anglican Church Cemetery in West Dover.

May, Melvin and Victor were laid to rest in the plots belonging to the Halifax Protestant Orphanage in Saint John's Cemetery in Halifax with 21 other children who perished at the orphange. Aubrey FISH and Roy William DEWOLFE are not buried there.


I started with information available from Halifax Explosion Resources. Three Covey siblings were among the 26 children killed at the Halifax Protestant Orphange during the Halifax Explosion on December 6, 1917.

In the McAlpine's Halifax City Directory for 1918, 1535 victims of the Halifax Explosion were listed. Only Melvin and Victor Covey were listed as victims on page 623, the third Covey sibling, May was not yet listed as a victim.

All three Covey children were listed in the Halifax Explosion Death Registration Book:

Victim Number 1619 on page 270

COVEY, MAY Female Protestant Orphanage Halifax, body not identified

Victim Number 1227, page 204

COVEY, MELVIN Male Protestant Orphanage Halifax, body not found

Victim Number 1228, page 204

COVEY, VICTOR Male Protestant Orphanage Halifax, body not found

In the online searchable database from the Nova Scotia Archives, which is constantly being updated, you will find the names of the the three Covey siblings lost in the explosion with the age for Melvin given as 6 years old, Victor, 3 years old and no age given for May. May is listed as fatality number 82, Melvin as fatality number 1482 and Victor as fatality number 1483.

From the same database the family members were listed as:

Father Robie Covey; mother (predeceased); sister Valerie, 7; missing (this is actually Valeria May Covey who went by May); Mildred, 5; Marguerite, 2; Hilda Pearl, 6 months

Nova Scotia Genealogy has the records of the marriages of Robie and Hilda, Mildred and Frederick and Marguerite and Noah, births of all of the children, death certificate of Robie Johnson COVEY, and death registration of May, Melvin, Victor, Hilda and Pearl


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