The frantic crew of Mont-Blanc shouted from their two lifeboats to some of the other vessels that their ship was about to explode, but they could not be heard above the noise and confusion. Tacoma was rocked so severely by the blast wave that her crew went to general quarters. For instance, in its report on the atomic bombing of Hiroshima, Time wrote that the explosive power of the Little Boy bomb was seven times that of the Halifax Explosion. Almost 2,000 people were killed and many more were injured. at the windows of their homes or businesses to watch the spectacular fire.  A precise Mi'kmaq death toll is unknown; records show that nine bodies were recovered, and the settlement was not rebuilt in the wake of the disaster. , Just before the First World War, the Canadian government began a determined, costly effort to develop the harbour and waterfront facilities. A fire on board the French ship ignited her cargo, causing a massive explosion that devastated the Richmond district of Halifax.  Following in MacLennan's footsteps, journalist Robert MacNeil penned Burden of Desire (1992) and used the explosion as a metaphor for the societal and cultural changes of the day. , Coordinates: 44°40′09″N 63°35′47″W / 44.66917°N 63.59639°W / 44.66917; -63.59639, This article is about the disaster.  The American steamship Old Colony, docked in Halifax for repairs, suffered little damage and was quickly converted to serve as a hospital ship, staffed by doctors and orderlies from the British and American navy vessels in the harbour. A fire started at the water line and travelled quickly up the side of the ship.  The Halifax Remembrance Book lists 16 members of the Tufts Cove Community as dead; not all the dead listed as in Tufts Cove were Indigenous. , Over 1,600 people were killed instantly and 9,000 were injured, more than 300 of whom later died. Coleman's message was responsible for bringing all incoming trains around Halifax to a halt.  It turned out that the letter was actually written in Norwegian. 100 years ago, the Canadian port city of Halifax was struck by one of the largest non-nuclear explosions in history. Le matin du 6 décembre 1917, une collision entre deux bateaux dans le port d'Halifax cause une énorme déflagration. Relief efforts began almost immediately, and hospitals quickly became full. The Halifax Disaster.  Captain Symington of USS Tacoma speculated that the port would not be operational for months, but a convoy departed on 11 December and dockyard operations resumed before Christmas. El choque entre el buque noruego SS Imo y el SS Mont-Blanc , un carguero francés lleno de material explosivo, produjo una explosión de 2,9 kilotones, dejando tras de sí 1.600 muertos, 9.000 heridos y la destrucción de gran parte de la ciudad. Dartmouth lies on the east shore of Halifax Harbour, and Halifax is on the west shore.  Construction began in 1964 on the Halifax North Memorial Library, designed to commemorate the victims of the explosion.  The Royal Naval College of Canada building was badly damaged, and several cadets and instructors maimed. L'explosion de Halifax se produisit le 6 décembre 1917 à Halifax, en Nouvelle-Écosse au Canada, lorsque le cargo français Mont-Blanc, transportant des munitions à destination de l'Europe alors en guerre, entra en collision avec un navire norvégien, l'Imo. SS Mont-Blanc, a French cargo ship laden with high explosives, collided with the Norwegian vessel SS Imo in the Narrows, a strait connecting the upper Halifax Harbour to Bedford Basin. The track had become impassable after Rockingham, on the western edge of Bedford Basin. Shortly before 9:00 am the Imo, a Norwegian steamship carrying supplies for the Belgian Relief Commission (a World War I-era relief organization), headed out of Halifax Harbour and found itself on a collision course with the French steamship Mont-Blanc. Ammunition ship afire in harbor making for Pier 6 and will explode.  Hospital ships brought the wounded to the city, and a new military hospital was constructed in the city. Halifax explosion of 1917, disaster in Halifax Harbour, Nova Scotia, Canada, in which a munitions ship exploded, killing nearly 2,000 people. , In 1918, Halifax sent a Christmas tree to the City of Boston in thanks and remembrance for the help that the Boston Red Cross and the Massachusetts Public Safety Committee provided immediately after the disaster. , The success of German U-boat attacks on ships crossing the Atlantic Ocean led the Allies to institute a convoy system to reduce losses while transporting goods and soldiers to Europe.  The Richmond Railway Yards and station were destroyed, killing 55 railway workers and destroying and damaging over 500 railway cars.  She intended to join a slow convoy gathering in Bedford Basin readying to depart for Europe but was too late to enter the harbour before the nets were raised. 1 hold of Mont Blanc, on her starboard side.  Out at sea, the American cruiser USS Tacoma and armed merchant cruiser USS Von Steuben (formerly SS Kronprinz Wilhelm) were passing Halifax en route to the United States.  As many as 1,600 people died immediately in the blast, tsunami, and collapse of buildings. A Nova Scotia Supreme Court justice, Benjamin Russell, found there was no evidence to support these charges. Our editors will review what you’ve submitted and determine whether to revise the article.  This dockyard later became the command centre of the Royal Canadian Navy upon its founding in 1910.  The Halifax Explosion also inspired a series of health reforms, including around public sanitation and maternity care.  No party was ever convicted for any crime or otherwise successfully prosecuted for any actions that precipitated the disaster. The loading of fuel was not completed until after the anti-submarine nets had been raised for the night.  The captain ordered Mont-Blanc to halt her engines and angle slightly to starboard, closer to the Dartmouth side of the Narrows. Several variations of the message have been reported, among them this from the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic: "Hold up the train.  A tsunami created by the blast wiped out the community of the Mi'kmaq First Nation who had lived in the Tufts Cove area for generations. The collision and fire attracted crowds of spectators on the docks and in nearby homes and streets. At roughly 8:45 am, she collided at low speed, approximately one knot (1.2 mph or 1.9 km/h), with the unladen Imo, chartered by the Commission for Relief in Belgium to pick up a cargo of relief supplies in New York. The gift was later taken over by the Nova Scotia Government to continue the goodwill gesture as well as to promote trade and tourism. , The convoys departed under the protection of British cruisers and destroyers. Von Steuben arrived a half-hour later. However, just after 9:04 am, the Mont-Blanc exploded. That’s when, on the morning of December 6, 1917, a massive shock wave, often called the largest manmade explosion before the atomic bomb, stopped the clock.  The sculpture was dismantled by the Halifax Regional Municipality in 2004 and largely destroyed while in storage.  Imo met American tramp steamer SS Clara being piloted up the wrong (western) side of the harbour. , An estimated c$35 million in damage resulted (c$591 million today). Dezember 1917 in Halifax an der kanadischen Ostküste ereignete. Almost 100 people were estimated to have died on the Dartmouth side. Passengers and soldiers aboard used the emergency tools from the train to dig people out of houses and bandaged them with sheets from the sleeping cars. Unbeknownst to others in the harbour, the Mont-Blanc was carrying 2,925 metric tons (about 3,224 short tons) of explosives—including 62 metric tons (about 68 short tons) of guncotton, 246 metric tons (about 271 short tons) of benzol, 250 metric tons (about 276 short tons) of trinitrotoluene (TNT), and 2,367 metric tons (about 2,609 short tons) of picric acid—destined for the French war effort. Two ships collided in Halifax Harbour, resulting in the most powerful man-made explosion ever in Canada up to that time.There was a double connection to this area.  Harold Gilman was commissioned to create a painting memorializing the event; his work, Halifax Harbour at Sunset, "tells very little about the recent devastation, as the viewpoint is set back so that the harbour appears undisturbed".  The new military hospital, Camp Hill, admitted approximately 1,400 victims on 6 December. The five-inch (127-millimetre) hawser initially produced was deemed too small and orders for a ten-inch (254-millimetre) hawser came down. The damaged Exposition building in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada, after the 1917 explosion.  The lack of coordinated pediatric care in such a disaster was also noted by William Ladd, a surgeon from Boston who had arrived to help.  Once finished, the Hydrostone neighbourhood consisted of homes, businesses and parks, which helped create a new sense of community in the North End of Halifax.  The blast was the largest human-made explosion at the time, releasing the equivalent energy of roughly 2.9 kilotons of TNT (12 TJ)..  The shock wave from the blast travelled through the earth at nearly 23 times the speed of sound and was felt as far away as Cape Breton (207 kilometres or 129 miles) and Prince Edward Island (180 kilometres or 110 miles). group tries to bring memorial sculpture back to life", "Explosion in Halifax Harbour, December 6, 1917", "Why Nova Scotia gives Boston its Christmas tree for free every year", The Maritime Museum of the Atlantic Halifax Explosion web page, Think Like a Historian: The Halifax Explosion, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Halifax_Explosion&oldid=991842627, Industrial fires and explosions in Canada, Events of National Historic Significance (Canada), All Wikipedia articles written in Canadian English, Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License, This page was last edited on 2 December 2020, at 02:41. Johansen was arrested on suspicions of being a German spy when a search turned up a letter on his person, supposedly written in German. A cargo ship accident that occurred between a French ship carrying explosives and a Norwegian vessel carrying provisions for wartime relieving provisions, the Halifax disaster in 1917 happened just towards the fag-end of the First World War. , A judicial inquiry known as the Wreck Commissioner's Inquiry was formed to investigate the causes of the collision. Captain Brannen and Albert Mattison of Niobe agreed to secure a line to the French ship's stern so as to pull it away from the pier to avoid setting it on fire.  That gift was revived in 1971 by the Lunenburg County Christmas Tree Producers Association, which began an annual donation of a large tree to promote Christmas tree exports as well as acknowledge Boston's support after the explosion. The 1917 Halifax Explosion, which levelled two square kilometres of the city and shattered windows within an 80-kilometre radius, was the largest human-caused explosion prior to the atomic age.  The Halifax Herald continued to propagate this belief for some time, for example reporting that Germans had mocked victims of the explosion.  Immediately following the explosion, most of the German survivors in Halifax had been rounded up and imprisoned. The force of the wave heaved the Imo toward the shore where it became grounded. , Adding to the chaos were fears of a potential second explosion.  The physical structures of the settlement were obliterated by the explosion and tsunami. This work follows the love affair of a young woman and an injured soldier. It has now become an upscale neighbourhood and shopping district. Proceedings began at the Halifax Court House on 13 December 1917, presided over by Justice Arthur Drysdale. Coleman remembered that an incoming passenger train from Saint John, New Brunswick, was due to arrive at the railyard within minutes. Port explosions have devastating effects far beyond the site of the actual blast.  About $30 million in financial aid was raised from various sources, including $18 million from the federal government, over $4 million from the British government, and $750,000 from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. This article was most recently revised and updated by, https://www.britannica.com/event/Halifax-explosion, The Canadian Encyclopedia - The Halifax Explosion, Canadian War Museum - The Halifax Explosion.  On 17 April 1918, a jury acquitted Wyatt in a trial that lasted less than a day. , Efforts began shortly after the explosion to clear debris, repair buildings, and establish temporary housing for survivors left homeless by the explosion. Patrick Vincent Coleman (13 March 1872 – 6 December 1917) was a train dispatcher for the Canadian Government Railways (formerly the ICR, Intercolonial Railway of Canada) who was killed in the Halifax Explosion, but not before he sent a message to an incoming passenger train to stop out of range of the explosion. Surrounded by thick black smoke, and fearing she would explode almost immediately, the captain ordered the crew to abandon ship. It’s status as the largest ice free port on the western Atlantic coast and the fact that it was the closest ice free port to Europe contributed to the hustle and bustle that it experienced in the war years.  Both ships had cut their engines by this point, but their momentum carried them right on top of each other at slow speed.  He first spotted Imo when she was about 0.75 miles (1.21 km) away and became concerned as her path appeared to be heading towards his ship's starboard side, as if to cut him off. Reason: Barrier repairs are planned. He returned to his post alone and continued to send out urgent telegraph messages to stop the train.  Drysdale agreed with Dominion Wreck Commissioner L. A. Demers' opinion that "it was the Mont-Blanc's responsibility alone to ensure that she avoided a collision at all costs" given her cargo; he was likely influenced by local opinion, which was strongly anti-French, as well as by the "street fighter" style of argumentation used by Imo lawyer Charles Burchell. , Sailors on nearby ships heard the series of signals and, realizing that a collision was imminent, gathered to watch as Imo bore down on Mont-Blanc. , Towing two scows at the time of the collision, Stella Maris responded immediately to the fire, anchoring the barges and steaming back towards Pier 6 to spray the burning ship with their fire hose. Mackey was discharged on a writ of habeas corpus and the charges dropped. Imo's prow pushed into the No. The collision cracked open the barrel of benezole, dousing the ship in flammable chemicals. Some with their heads missing, and some thrown onto the overhead telegraph wires." To reach the wounded, rescue personnel had to walk through parts of the devastated city until they reached a point where the military had begun to clear the streets. Approximately 2,000 people were killed by the blast, debris, fires, or collapsed buildings, and an estimated 9,000 others were injured.  In contrast, the equally poor and underdeveloped area of Africville was not included in reconstruction efforts. , A cloud of white smoke rose to at least 3,600 metres (11,800 ft). Halifax Explosion on 6 December 1917: 2.9 kt of TNT (12 TJ) 5. The first left Truro around 10 am carrying medical personnel and supplies, arrived in Halifax by noon and returned to Truro with the wounded and homeless by 3 pm. More than 1,600 buildings were destroyed by the wave, and debris was scattered for several miles. His insights from the explosion are generally credited with inspiring him to pioneer the specialty of pediatric surgery in North America. Aftermath of the 1917 Halifax Explosion As crowds gathered, drawn in by the rising pall of smoke, emergency personnel tried to control the damage. Therefore, the vessel could not weigh anchor until the next morning. Corrections? Le Mont-Blanc prit feu et explosa vingt minutes plus tard, tuant 2 000 personnes et en blessant des milliers d'autres. One of the ships in the collision, the Mont-Blanc, was dangerously overladen with hazardous cargo, including explosives in its bulk cargo hold and barrels of …  Mackey kept his eye on the ferry traffic between Halifax and Dartmouth and other small boats in the area. The ship arrived in Halifax on 3 December for neutral inspection and spent two days in Bedford Basin awaiting refuelling supplies.  Families recorded the deaths of five residents. The captain's son, First Mate Walter Brannen, who had been thrown into the hold by the blast, survived, as did four others.  The ship was completely blown apart and a powerful blast wave radiated away from the explosion initially at more than 1,000 metres (3,300 ft) per second. . By late January 1918, around 5,000 were still without shelter. Canadian/Irish actor Vincent Walsh won a Gemini for best actor portraying Captain Charlie Collins. 10, the overnight train from Saint John, is believed to have heeded the warning and stopped a safe distance from the blast at Rockingham, saving the lives of about 300 railway passengers.  Survivors were housed in a racially segregated building under generally poor conditions and eventually dispersed around Nova Scotia.  Stoves and lamps overturned by the force of the blast sparked fires throughout Halifax, particularly in the North End, where entire city blocks were caught up in the inferno, trapping residents inside their houses.  Prime Minister Robert Borden pledged that the government would be "co-operating in every way to reconstruct the Port of Halifax: this was of utmost importance to the Empire". The last body, a caretaker killed at the Exhibition Grounds, was not recovered until the summer of 1919. was the halifax explosion an accident.  The Halifax Explosion Memorial Bells were built in 1985, relocating memorial carillon bells from a nearby church to a large concrete sculpture on Fort Needham Hill, facing the "ground zero" area of the explosion. , Large brick and stone factories near Pier 6, such as the Acadia Sugar Refinery, disappeared into unrecognizable heaps of rubble, killing most of their workers.  White-hot shards of iron fell down upon Halifax and Dartmouth. The Halifax Explosion was a disaster that occurred in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada, on the morning of 6 December 1917. , Imo was granted clearance to leave Bedford Basin by signals from the guard ship HMCS Acadia at approximately 7:30 on the morning of 6 December, with Pilot William Hayes on board.  As the lifeboats made their way across the harbour to the Dartmouth shore, the abandoned ship continued to drift and beached herself at Pier 6 near the foot of Richmond street. Guess this will be my last message. The Halifax Explosion started when two ships collided in the harbor of the Nova Scotian capital of Halifax. For other uses, see, 1917 maritime disaster in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada, The peak of the cloud was measured at 3,600 metres (11,811 feet or 2.25 miles) by Captain W. M. A. Campbell of the inbound Canadian merchant ship, Mont-Blanc pilot Francis Mackey recalls Halifax 1917 explosion, Determining 9:04:35 a.m. as the precise time of the Halifax Explosion, Surviving the disaster of the Halifax Explosion, Nova Scotia Archives and Records Management, largest artificial non-nuclear explosions, Canadian National Institute for the Blind, Shattered City: The Halifax Explosion and the Road to Recovery, List of accidents and incidents involving transport or storage of ammunition, "Halifax Explosion memorial service draws large crowd", "Sources of threat and sources of assistance: the maritime aspects of the 1917 Halifax Explosion", "Blizzard Cuts off Halifax / 20,000 Survivors Destitute", "Mont-Blanc pilot Francis Mackey recalls Halifax 1917 explosion", "The Harbour Remembers the Halifax Explosion", "Determining 9:04:35 a.m. as the precise time of the Halifax Explosion", "The Royal Naval College of Canada Closes", "Vincent Coleman and the Halifax Explosion", "Halifax officially unveils municipality's newest ferry, the Vincent Coleman", "Surviving the disaster of the Halifax Explosion", "Helping hands for victims of Halifax Explosion", "Pennies from Hell: A Milkman's pennies from the Halifax Explosion", "Injured dying in snowbound relief trains", "Disasters in history: the Halifax Explosion of 1917", "Helmsman of ship that hit Mont Blanc held as spy", "Halifax and the Precipitate Birth of Pediatric Surgery", "The silence after the blast: How the Halifax Explosion was nearly forgotten", "Precious Metals: N.S. The combination of the cargoless ship's height in the water and the transverse thrust of her right-hand propeller caused the ship's head to swing into Mont-Blanc. The Norwegian ship SS Imo had sailed from the Netherlands en route to New York to take on relief supplies for Belgium, under the command of Haakon From. The loading of fuel was not completed until after the anti-sub…  An additional 9,000 were injured. Get exclusive access to content from our 1768 First Edition with your subscription. Chargé de munitions, il s’apprête à rejoindre un convoi vers l’Europe.  Keith Ross Leckie scripted a miniseries entitled Shattered City: The Halifax Explosion (2003), which took the title but has no relationship to Janet Kitz's non-fiction book Shattered City: The Halifax Explosion and the Road to Recovery (1990). " For many years afterward, the Halifax Explosion was the standard by which all large blasts were measured. All available troops were called in from harbour fortifications and barracks to the North End to rescue survivors and provide transport to the city's hospitals, including the two army hospitals in the city. , Drysdale also oversaw the first civil litigation trial, in which the owners of the two ships sought damages from each other. The library entrance featured the first monument built to mark the explosion, the Halifax Explosion Memorial Sculpture, created by artist Jordi Bonet. The train was loaded with injured and left the city at 1:30 with a doctor aboard, to evacuate the wounded to Truro. The ship entered the Narrows well above the harbour's speed limit in an attempt to make up for the delay experienced in loading her coal.  In 2015, the remaining fragments were shipped to Bonet's family in Montreal despite a public campaign to return the sculpture to memorial display.  Mont-Blanc's forward 90-mm gun landed approximately 5.6 kilometres (3.5 mi) north of the explosion site near Albro Lake in Dartmouth with its barrel melted away, and the shank of Mont-Blanc's anchor, weighing half a ton, landed 3.2 kilometres (2.0 mi) south at Armdale. , First rescue efforts came from surviving neighbours and co-workers who pulled and dug out victims from buildings. After the explosion, the Halifax Relief Commission approached the reconstruction of Richmond as an opportunity to improve and modernize the city's North End. A Norwegian ship, the SS Imo, had slammed into the SS Mont-Blanc, a French ship filled to the brim with TNT, picric acid, benezole, and guncotton. Good-bye boys." In deference to its symbolic importance for both cities, the Nova Scotia Department of Natural Resources has specific guidelines for selecting the tree and has tasked an employee to oversee the selection. In the aftermath of the explosion, hospitals were inundated with the wounded, and morgues struggled to identify and document the dead. , Francis Mackey, an experienced harbour pilot, had boarded Mont-Blanc on the evening of 5 December 1917; he had asked about "special protections" such as a guard ship, given the Mont-Blanc's cargo, but no protections were put in place. , The population of Halifax/Dartmouth had increased to between 60,000 and 65,000 people by 1917. Lane closures: Lanes 1 and 2 will be closed. Schedule: From 20:00 on 1 Dec 2020 to 06:00 on 2 Dec 2020.  A combination of persistent racism and a growing conviction that Africville should be demolished to make way for industrial development resulted in the people of Africville receiving no police or fire protection; they had to make do without water mains and sewer lines, despite paying city taxes.