Wednesday, 6 December 2017
The Halifax Explosion
One hundred years ago today on December 6, 1917, the worst disaster in Canadian history occurred in the maritime port of Halifax, Nova Scotia. That morning, two ships collided in its harbour -- the French cargo ship SS Mont-Blanc and the Norwegian ship SS Imo. The Mont-Blanc was packed with TNT and other explosives being shipped to France for use in World War I. It caught on fire and blew sky-high.
The resulting blast levelled a big part of Halifax, killed nearly 2,000 people and injured another 9,000. It was the world's largest man-made explosion until the atom bomb was dropped on Hiroshima nearly 30 years later.
As stated in Wikipedia:
Nearly all structures within an 800-metre (half-mile) radius, including the entire community of Richmond, were obliterated. A pressure wave snapped trees, bent iron rails, demolished buildings, grounded vessels, and scattered fragments of Mont-Blanc for kilometres. Hardly a window in the city proper survived the blast. Across the harbour, in Dartmouth, there was also widespread damage. A tsunami created by the blast wiped out the community of Mi'kmaq First Nations people who had lived in the Tufts Cove area for generations.
And then, just to add to the misery, a blizzard occurred, hampering rescue and relief efforts. Trains full of supplies and aid were sent to Halifax from across Canada and the northeastern United States. The American city of Boston was especially quick and generous in sending doctors, nurses, medical supplies and funds, which is why Nova Scotia annually donates a huge Christmas tree to Boston every year in friendship and gratitude.
If you ever go to Halifax, be sure to visit the Halifax Explosion Memorial Bell Tower which was erected near the collision site. It is a very solemn and beautiful place of commemoration.
There is also an old historic Anglican Church called St Paul's, located in downtown Halifax on the Grand Parade, that is worthy of a visit. It survived the Explosion because it was outside the immediate blast radius.
Inside the church doors, however, a spike is still embedded high up on the interior wall where it was blown by the force of the Explosion. And towards the back of the church, you can see the famous "Explosion Window." Local legend has it that, due to the intense light and heat generated by the Halifax Explosion, the profile of one of the church’s deacons was etched into the glass of a second story window of the church.
Here's a better view of the Explosion Window --
[All photos from the internet]