December 6, 1917
Two ships collide in Halifax harbour, causing a huge explosion that devastates the city.
The Norwegian ship Imo is leaving Halifax harbour on the port side; at the same time, the French vessel Mont Blanc, loaded with munitions and explosives destined for First World War battlefields, is entering the harbour. The two ships collide because the Imo is too close to the area reserved for the passage of the Mont Blanc.
Vincent Coleman, a train dispatcher in the nearby railway yards, sends out a warning message, but the disaster cannot be prevented.
Around 9:00 a.m., the explosion of the Mont Blanc levels the community of Richmond and the surrounding area. The blast shatters windows 100 km away.
Nearly 2,000 people are killed, including children on their way to school, and 9,000 more are seriously injured or blinded. In all, 1,500 buildings are destroyed and 12,000 damaged. More than 25,000 people are left homeless.
To learn more:
Library and Archives Canada
Canadian War Museum
The Canadian Encyclopedia
Photo of soldiers engaged in rescue work after the Halifax Explosion, December 6, 1917.