Halifax Explosion

•December 6, 1917 dawned clear and sunny in Halifax.
•Before darkness fell, more than a thousand people would
die, with another thousand to follow.
•Nine thousand more would be injured and maimed in the
biggest human-made explosion the world had ever seen.
•Halifax was booming. It was a military town in 1917
and World War 1 had been going on for 3 years.
•Halifax has one natural asset – one of the world’s
natural harbours. It is one of the world's best, deepest
and largest natural harbours.
•Its main harbour is relatively easy to protect from
intruders. It has plenty of room for docks and ships.
•It had never been so busy because ships were
carrying troops, supplies and munitions.
By 1917, three years of war in Europe had made
Halifax a boom town.
With a population of about 50,000, it was the
largest in Atlantic Canada.
•The Belgian relief vessel Imo was leaving
Halifax Harbour on its way to New York
and the French munitions ship Mont Blanc
was on its way to wait for a convoy when
the two ships collided
•The munitions ship was carrying picric
acid, gun cotton and TNT.
•The Mont Blanc exploded, flattening
everything within 800 metres (2600 feet),
and causing damage for 1.6 km (1 mile).
The explosion was said to have been
heard as far away as Prince Edward Island.
• The freight manifest for Mont-Blanc is a recipe for a giant
• Explosives Quantity Value in 1917 US$
Wet picric acid
Dry picric acid
226,797 kg
1,602,519 kg
544,311 kg
56,301 kg
223,188 kg
2653,115 kg
Imo had no cargo on board. It was heading to
New York to collect emergency supplies for
civilians in war-torn Belgium.
It carried a large sign on its side: "BELGIAN
RELIEF." The sign was supposed to discourage
German submarines, or U-boats, from sinking it
as a military target.
More damage and devastation
• More than 1500 people were killed
outright; hundreds more would die in the
hours and days to come.
• Nine thousand people, many of whom
might have been safe if they hadn't come
to watch the fire, were injured by the blast,
falling buildings and flying shards of glass.
• Brought the experience of the war close to
Essential Questions:
• What is the IMB and what did they do?
• What effect did inflation have on Canadians? Was it the
same effect for all?
• What did the food controller do?
• Describe income tax, did it vary amongst household?
Businesses? Describe.
• Who is Elaine Nelson? Describe her experience
• Describe women’s efforts in the war. How did this
influence societal ideals?
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