The World’s Biggest Explosion Before the Atom Bomb
Today, we remember the day in 1917 when Halifax lost more than two thousand civilians on what can be considered one of the darkest days in the city’s history. In a great flash of light, people’s lives were lost or changed forever.
Since the beginning of the First World War, the port of Halifax had become busier than at any time in its history and this caused a serious challenge for the harbour traffic controllers. Ferries arriving from Dartmouth, fishing boats, military and civilian shipping all moved in and out of Bedford Basin and collisions often occurred.
At 8:40 A.M., during rush hour in the harbour, the Imo, a Belgian relief vessel, collided with the SS Mont-Blanc, which was carrying munitions destined for Europe. Ten minutes after the collision the Mont-Blanc caught fire and exploded at 9:04 A.M.
Within two-square kilometres of the shore, buildings were demolished, iron rails were bent and fragments of the Mont-Blanc were flung everywhere.
Mary Murphy, 96, was two when the Halifax Explosion destroyed her home. In the photo above, she sits in her house that was built on the foundation of her family’s home.