A Moment in Time: The Halifax Explosion

Essay by FinnighanHigh School, 12th gradeA+, April 2006

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On December 6th, 1917 at around eight in the morning, the Belgian ship Imo and French ship Mont Blanc collided in the Halifax harbour causing a mass explosion that continues to shake the lives of the citizens of Halifax today. The Halifax Explosion made Canadians more aware of the destruction of war, proved to be a founding factor that would soon unite Canada as its own nation, led a new knowledge of the city for people around the world, and paved the way for a new Halifax which collectively changed Canada's identity forever. For the many years that Halifax had been a war town, the devastation of war became a reality and the relief that poured into Halifax from people across the nation demonstrated a national unity for Canadians. In addition, newspaper articles from countries around the world grabbed peoples' attention bringing more knowledge of Canada as well as the reconstruction that followed the explosion made radical changes to Halifax.

Ever since the beginning of Halifax, it has always been a city of war and the explosion brought the destruction of war to a new generation, not just in Halifax but all of Canada. The city of Halifax aided the war effort from the naval base Louisbourg in 1758 and was the primary route for naval ships during the War of 1812, Napoleonic Wars, and American Revolution. During World War I, the Halifax harbour was an important naval base used to transport soldiers and supply war vessels with necessary rations for Europe1. On that cold winter morning, "Halifax paid the price of being Canada's chief port of export of supplies of war in two great wars"2. The Mont Blanc was carrying over two thousand five hundred tons of benzol fuel, TNT, picric acid, and gun cotton ready to...