The Halifax Explosion: Records at Library and Archives Canada

Library and Archives Canada Blog

By Valerie Casbourn

On the morning of December 6, 1917, two ships, the Imo and the Mont-Blanc, collided in the Narrows of Halifax Harbour. The Mont-Blanc was a munitions ship on its way to join a convoy sailing to war-torn Europe. The cargo of the Mont-Blanc caught fire, and after burning for 20 minutes, the ship exploded. The blast ripped through the city killing almost 2,000 people, injuring thousands more and causing widespread devastation in Halifax, Dartmouth, and the Mi’kmaq community of Turtle Grove. The “Halifax Explosion” as it became known, brought the danger and destruction of the First World War home to Canada, and left an indelible mark on the city of Halifax.

A black-and-white photograph of several people walking down a street with destroyed buildings on both sides. Aftermath of the Halifax Explosion. The building on the left was the Hillis & Sons Foundry. (MIKAN 3193301)

Guides to Records about the Halifax Explosion

Library and Archives Canada (LAC) holds various records that tell part…

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2 thoughts on “The Halifax Explosion: Records at Library and Archives Canada

  1. There was a good article in the Boston Sunday Globe (Dec. 3rd) telling about the response by people from Massachusetts.  The Globe recorded that in 1817 40,000 native Nova Scotians lived in Boston.  Each year Halifax donates the Boston Xmas tree in appreciation for the  help. “[Abraham] Ratshesky mobilized the first ‘relief special,’ getting the workers out of Boston on the night of December 6.  The group was so determined to reach Halifax that its members climbed out of the train in the snowstorm to help shovel the tracks.  When they arrived at about 3 a.m. on December 8, Ratshesky wrote … they were met by a Canadian railway official, who happened to be from West Springfield.  “Tears streamed down his cheeks, …and he said “Just like the people of good old Massachusetts.”


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