Over 2.5 km2 of Halifax's industrial north end was totally levelled, either by the blast, the subsequent tidal wave or the raging fire caused when structures collapsed inward on roaring stoves and furnaces. Homes, offices, churches, factories, vessels, the railway station and freight yards - all were obliterated. Farther from the epicentre, Citadel Hill deflected shock waves away from south and west Halifax, where shattered windows and doors were the predominant damage. Across the harbour, Dartmouth suffered devastation to a lesser degree, since its north section was sparsely developed. The blast shattered windows in Truro, 100 km away, and was heard in Prince Edward Island.
Out of a population of less than 50 000, over 1600 people died and 9000 were injured, including 200 blinded by flying glass. Sixteen hundred buildings were destroyed and 12 000 damaged; 6000 people were homeless and 20 000 lacked adequate shelter. Total damage amounted to $35 million. The misery was compounded by a forced evacuation of the city, necessitated by fire threatening the main dockyard magazine, and by appalling weather conditions in the days immediately following the explosion.
Relief assistance was immediate and extensive. Trains from throughout the Maritimes and from central Canada and New England brought medical aid, food, clothing, building materials and skilled labourers. The continuing assistance provided by the Massachusetts Relief Committee was particularly noteworthy. Money donated by government, industry and individuals worldwide eventually totalled some $30 million, and was administered 1918-76 by the HALIFAX RELIEF COMMISSION.
Author LOIS KERNAGHAN
Links to Other Sites
This extensive CBC site documents the impact of the "Halifax Explosion" on the city and its populace.
A Heritage Minute about the Halifax Explosion. See also related online educational resources. From the Historica-Dominion Institute.
The Halifax Explosion
An illustrated account of the horrific 1917 Halifax explosion. From the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic.
Notman Studio Collection
View an extensive collection of historical photographs depicting various locations in the Halifax region. Includes images of naval vessels. From the Nova Scotia Archives & Records Management.
The Halifax Explosion
News stories and reports about the 1917 Halifax Explosion from the CBC Digital Archives.
Remembering the Victims
This site documents the development of the Halifax North Memorial Public Library, which commemorates the victims of the 1917 Halifax Explosion. Includes a link to the Halifax Explosion Remembrance Book. From the Halifax Public Libraries.
The Maritime Aspects of the 1917 Halifax Explosion
A detailed account of events leading up to the Halifax Explosion and the subsequent relief efforts. From the journal "The Northern Mariner."