In 1917 occured a catastrophe which had been privately feared and officially ignored ever since the foundation of the fortress, the explosion of a large quantity of munitions. On December 6, 1917, the naval authorities permitted the French steamship Mont Blanc to enter the harbor and pass the city in order to join a convoy being assembled in Bedford Basin. She had a devil's brew aboard: 2300 tons of picric acid, 10 tons of guncotton, 200 tons of the touchy TNT - a perfect detonator for the rest of the cargo - and for good measure 35 tons of benzol, an easily inflammable liquid, in thin steel drums which were placed on deck about the hatches. (Halifax - Warden of the North - by Thomas Raddall - pg. 250)
Three forces were simultaneously created by the energy of the exploding ship, an earthquake, an air-concussion and a tidal wave. These forces rushed away from the Narrows with a velocity varying in accordance with the nature of the medium in which they worked. It took only a few seconds for the earthquake to spend itself and three minutes for the air-expansion to slow down to a gale. The tidal wave traveled for hours before the last traces of it were swalled in the open Atlantic. (Barometer Rising - by Hugh MacLennan - pg. 229)
Over 1,900 people were killed immediatley; and within a year the figure had climbed to well over 2,000. Around 9,000 more were injured, many permanently, and 325 acres, almost all of north-end peninsular Halifax was destroyed. A moving exhibit on the Halifax Explosion , Halifax Wrecked can be viewed at the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic, Lower Water Street, Halifax.
The following photo's / postcards showing some of the destrution
from the Halifax Explosion
were contributed by Paul Harmon (Dec.- 2003).
Here are some other websites of the Halifax Explosion....
List of Casulties - GANS - (Adobe Acrobat)
Halifax Regional Municpality - (detailed description)
Halifax Explosion Aftermath - (description)
Inner Halifax Harbour - (map, photo & description)
Halifax Herald Account of Disaster - 1992
A Personal Thesis - 1997
Just One Big Mess - Video
City of Promise - (CBC
If you have any unpublished photo's of the Halifax Explosion to put
on this page,
please send them to email@example.com
TO HALIFAX CITY