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happy? – Dec 6 (Halifax Explosion)

06 Dec 05 - 09:32 AM (#1621116)
Subject: happy? – Dec 6 (Halifax Explosion)
From: Abby Sale

         It was on the sixth of December, nineteen hundred and seventeen,
        That Halifax [Nova Scotia] suffered disaster, the worst she'd ever seen,
        It was five minutes after nine, those still alive can tell,
        That beautiful city of Halifax was just given a taste of hell.

                "The Halifax Explosion," H Creighton, Maritime Folk Songs

Some 1600 people died when a munitions ship exploded.

Copyright © 2005, Abby Sale - all rights reserved
What are Happy's all about? See Clicky

06 Dec 05 - 01:54 PM (#1621336)
Subject: RE: happy? – Dec 6 (Halifax Explosion)

Actually, it was closer to two thousand and hundreds were blinded by flying glass and thousands more were seriously wounded. It was the largest man made explosion until hiroshima and the worst disaster in Canadian history, yet outside of Halifax, very few people in Canada are aware that this event happened. Too bad no one has written a decent song about it.

06 Dec 05 - 01:59 PM (#1621340)
Subject: RE: happy? – Dec 6 (Halifax Explosion)
From: robomatic

Boston, Massachusetts, an erstwhile competitor to Halifax in matters commercial and military, sent tons of aid and medical assistance. I think they even adopted some of the many orphans produced by that catastrophe.

Halifax is one of my favorite cities.

06 Dec 05 - 03:40 PM (#1621423)
Subject: RE: happy? � Dec 6 (Halifax Explosion)
From: Matthew Edwards

Thank you, Abby, for this and for all the others in this fascinating series.

I had never heard of this terrible disaster, but was intrigued by your post to look up information about it. I have to say that I was very impressed by the high quality of the information provided, especially by the CBC and the Nova Scotia Archives.

These are really excellent online resources which deserve some recognition for the way they explore all aspects of the disaster and its consequences, using official documents, personal accounts, photographs and film to give a history that works on many levels.

I'll post the links here to add to the record:
CBC.CA: Halifax Explosion
Nova Scotia Archives: Halifax Explosion

06 Dec 05 - 03:43 PM (#1621426)
Subject: RE: happy? – Dec 6 (Halifax Explosion)
From: Helen

I read a novel called Burden of Desire by Robert MacNeil, of MacNeil Lehrer NewsHour fame, about the Halifax explosion. I found the graphic details of the catastrophe compelling, and it was satisfying as a novel as well. One of my favourite books.

One of the scenes in the novel which come back to me now and then is how the townspeople were rushing out to the ship to help put out the fire but the sailors were rushing away from the ship because they knew it was loaded with ammunition, which the harbour authorities had not been told because of the war.

I originally heard about the disaster back in the late 70's when I was living in a terrace house on the hill facing Newcastle Harbour (NSW, Oz) . Someone visited us, looked at the view and told us about the Halifax explosion and that the hillside facing the harbour was flattened.

The map of the Halifax hill is very similar to the layout of the Newcastle Hill (the suburb is called The Hill).

Not long after the 1989 Newcastle earthquake I started reading it again but I had to stop because the disaster details were too real. Not that we had a lot of casualties from the earthquake but the destruction of buildings and large parts of some suburbs was incredible.


06 Dec 05 - 03:51 PM (#1621431)
Subject: RE: happy? – Dec 6 (Halifax Explosion)
From: katlaughing

Night Owl was telling me of how much Bostonians helped and to this day, as a sign of gratitude, Halifax sends a large Christmas tree to the city of Boston every year.

I've saw an incredible account of this on the History Channel, BBC-America, or PBS, can't remember which, a few years ago.

Thanks, Abby,


07 Dec 05 - 12:16 AM (#1621687)
Subject: RE: happy? – Dec 6 (Halifax Explosion)

(Dan McKinnon)

I remember it well 'twas the calmest of days
I remember the sky looked so blue
Mommy and Carmen were practising hymns
And the light from the window shone through
With a flash the earth trembled the flooring gave way
The ceiling and walls tumbled down
The only thing saved from our old house but me
Was this wonderful cup they found
It said....

Remember me, Remember me
Inscribed on its side were two words to abide by
Remember me

We had just enough time to make school by nine
You could feel tension spark in the air
Alarms shrieked and howled , we followed the sound
As the new fire engine roared by
With Gordon running second and Alan in third
The world came apart at the seams
I awoke on the ground, found Gordon.
We looked round
Three days later Alan's body was found

Remember me, Remember me
Inscribed on its side were two words to abide by
Remember me

In the city's north end with the pealing of bells
We remember that most tragic day
The whole world responded with heartfelt kindness
A debt we can never repay
Still stories are told of bravery and sacrifice
A work of God? Who's to say
But the one thing that helps keep the lost ones so dear
Was that wonderful cup found that day
It says...

Remember me, Remember me
Inscribed on its side were two words to abide by
Remember me

Remember me, Remember me
Inscribed on its side were two words to abide by
Remember me
Remember me

From the recording: "Between Wind & Water" by Dan McKinnon, 1997, Maritime Museum of the Atlantic.

The cup in the song and an extensive exhibit dealing with the explosion can be seen at the Maritime Museum on the Halifax waterfront.

07 Dec 05 - 08:59 AM (#1621901)
Subject: RE: happy? – Dec 6 (Halifax Explosion)
From: Sandy Mc Lean

The Imo and the Mont Blanc collided in the narrowest part of Halifax harbour. The Mont Blanc caught fire and people watched from their windows and from the shore as she burned. She was loaded with war munitions and exploded like a huge grenade. Pieces of the ship were found miles away. Houses were flattened from the force of the blast and many fires started from their coal stoves. On top of all the misery a huge blizzard set in the next day.
Help came from many directions but Boston went way beyond the call. That kindness has never been forgotten and each year a Nova Scotia Christmas tree goes to Boston as a token of our appriciation.

07 Dec 05 - 09:27 AM (#1621921)
Subject: RE: happy? – Dec 6 (Halifax Explosion)
From: GUEST,Dan McKinnon in NS

If I can just throw my two cents worth in:

First Guest, thanks for quoting the song.

The explosion is part of my family history. My Grandmother, 94, who died on Monday, the day before the anniversary of the explosion, would always talk of it and what had happened to her and her family when the date came around. Her stories are in my blood. They lived in the city's north end which was hardest hit by the explosion. At that time her dad was over in Belgium fighting in WWI. Luckily she was home sick from school and was spared the worst of it as she might have been one of the many school children blinded from looking at the two ships burning in the harbour. (Apparently the teachers had a difficult time getting them away from the windows.) She had several horrific tales about her and her family's experiences but they always helped give us a sense of who we are. It was mostly because of and for my grandmother that I wrote Remember Me.

I have also heard that a wonderful song was written about the explosion by Chuck Hall simply called Halifax. He can be found at

There is another here in Halifax who has written several pieces about the explosion and he performs them with many musicians locally in Halifax near the date of the explosion - Dave Stone:

There have also been many books written about the explosion by Janet Kitz, (all first hand accounts,) as well as the fabulously written fictional tale by Hugh MacLennan called Barometer Rising.

So there's much out there and much to be thankful for.

Sorry for rambling,


30 Dec 05 - 02:53 PM (#1637552)
Subject: RE: happy? – Dec 6 (Halifax Explosion)
From: open mike

in this thread are links to a wonderful song
commemorating this event by Chuck Hall.

30 Dec 05 - 04:49 PM (#1637615)
Subject: RE: happy? – Dec 6 (Halifax Explosion)
From: Helen

A blue clicky:

Lyr Req: Halifax shipwreck and fire in WW1