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Canadian Urbanism Uncovered

Halifax Explosion Events Guide: Walking tour, memorial service and reception

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HALIFAX – Ninety-two years ago this Sunday, as the First World War was raging across the Atlantic, the SS Mont-Blanc munitions convoy and the SS Imo collided in the Halifax Harbour, setting off an explosion of unprecedented force that leveled much of the city.  Few events have so drastically impacted the future life and built form of a city in so singular and tragic a moment as the explosion, which literally blasted the small city of Halifax onto the world stage at the cost of over 1,900 lives and much of the city’s north end.

Today the Halifax Explosion Memorial Bell Tower stands on the top of Fort Needham Park overlooking the site of the explosion in commemoration to those whose lives and homes were destroyed by the blast.  Yet other less obvious reminders of the explosion abound in Halifax.  With the aid money that poured into the city following the blast from places as diverse as China, New Zealand and Boston, over 3,000 houses were repaired within the first seven weeks. The unique architecture and layout of the 328 Hydrostone houses are also the product of rebuilding efforts.

The Nova Scotia Archives has just completed an extensive online virtual exhibit featuring photographs, documents and other material showing life in Halifax before and after the explosion.  For those interested in learning more about these and other stories, a number of events are taking place this week to mark the 92nd anniversary of the Halifax Explosion.

Walking Tour of North End Halifax

WHAT: Jim Simpson along with the Nova Scotia Archives’ senior archivist Garry Shutlak will be leading walking tours through Halifax’s north end, telling stories related to the 1917 Explosion.
WHERE: Fort Needham Memorial Park, Needham Street
WHEN: Saturday, December 5th @ noon
COST: Free
REGISTER: Register for the walk by calling 424-7491

Halifax Explosion Memorial Service

WHAT: Service at the Memorial Bells marking the moment the SS Mont-Blanc exploded
WHERE: Bell Tower, Fort Needham Memorial Park, Needham Street
WHEN: Sunday, December 6th @ 8:50am-9:25am
WEBSITE: HRM Halifax Explosion

Halifax Explosion Survivors Reception

WHAT: Learn about the explosion through the individuals who experienced it first hand
WHERE: Maritime Museum, 1675 Lower Water Street
WHEN: Sunday, December 6th @ 2-4pm
COST: Free
CONTACT: 424-6446



  1. My mother wanted to send her regards to you on this anniversary.  She was born Evelyn Gertrude Peckham and was born in March of 1917 and so survived the explosion. Their house on Bloomfield St. was heavily damaged (and tarped by German POWs the next day to keep the blizzard out.  She was protected in her crib by flying glass by a brother leaning over her crib, another brother was blown throw the rear window of the kitchen and landed on his feet running.  My grandmother was protected by a partition.  My grandfather was an official in the dockyard on the pier, I believe, that the blazing ships drifted towards.  He was warned of the cargo of the Mont Blanc by a naval rating running down the corridor banging on doors – the building and the rating disappeared in the blast but my grandfather, saved by an oak desk he dove under, walked home without injury.

    Please keep the memory alive – Mom and Dad live now in Mississauga, and I am in Toronto and have heard no reference to the explosion in the news today.

    Christopher Borgal

  2. Thanks for the Nova Scotia Archives shout-out!