Halifax Explosion
100 years 100 stories

Experiences

The Halifax Explosion was one of the most significant events in the city's history. Take a part in an interpretive experience by going to a museum exhibit, exploring an online resource, or viewing a commemorative project.

If you have an experience or project related to the explosion that you would like us to include, please contact us with the details.

For information about commemorative events, visit our events listing.

 


Nova Scotia Archives 

One of Canada's oldest archival institutions, the Nova Scotia Archives acquires, preserves and makes available the province's documentary heritage — recorded information of provincial significance created or accumulated by government and the private sector over the last 300 years.

Recognizing the immense historic significance of the Halifax Explosion, the Archives already has several amazing online resources about the disaster including “A Vision of Regeneration”, “The Halifax Explosion Remembrance Book”, and the “Halifax Explosion Film”

To commemorate the centenary of the explosion, the Archives has launched a new online exhibit,"Still Standing: W.G. MacLaughlan Albums of Buildings Damaged by the Halifax Explosion". Presented for the first time in 100 years, the exhibit features 123 MacLaughlan photographs of damaged buildings in and around the devastated area. Some locations have been identified based on notations on the images and/or the research work by Archives staff, however, the majority remain unidentified.

To accompany the images, the Archives has also prepared the "Still Standing Video Series", which is a collection of videos based on the stories of five survivors. Hear their accounts of the disaster voiced and see what they saw, as life began again. 

To access all of this incredible material, visit the Nova Scotia Archives' Halifax Explosion virtual exhibit.  

 


Dartmouth Heritage Museum

Explosion! Dartmouths ordeal of the 1917 disaster

To commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Halifax Explosion, the Dartmouth Heritage Museum presents the exhibit, Explosion! Dartmouth’s Ordeal of the 1917 Disaster. On display in the historic Evergreen House from July 14, 2017 to January 2018, this original exhibit examines the impact the disaster left on Dartmouth and the community.

Notable artifacts featured in the exhibit include a pair of eyeglasses blown off their owner’s face; postcards from a soldier in France messaging home after hearing about the disaster; the diary of Frank Baker, a British naval officer stationed on the HMCS Acadia on the day of the explosion; and four fragments from the Mont-Blanc.

For more informaton, including Evergreen House's address, admission rates and hours of operation, visit the museum's website.

 


Maritime Museum of the Atlantic

Collision in the Narrows Exhibit postcard

Opening on June 15 and running until December 31, 2017, the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic will host two special exhibits in commemoration of the 100th Anniversary of the Halifax Explosion.

Collision in the Narrows: The 1917 Halifax Harbour Explosion is a new exhibit that investigates the impact the Explosion had on those who suffered it, as well as our world today.

Hope and Survival: The Halifax Explosion Memorial Quilt

Hope and Survival: The Halifax Explosion Memorial Quilt is an extraoridinary piece conceived by artist and Portia White Prize winne, Laurie Swim. This monumental community art project features images in fabric based on witness accounts of the event and its aftermath.

Visit the museum's website to learn about hours of operation and admission prices.

 

 


Into the Debris Field: The Halifax Explosion

Into the Debris Field is a multifaceted centenary project that recognizes the profound impact of the Halifax Explosion of December 6, 1917, and how the reverberations of that event continue to shape the consciousness of a place and its people. 

Learn more at the project's website: intothedebrisfield.ca

 


United Way Halifax: Wake Up Halifax

Wake Up Halifax is a special city-wide day of action that commemorates the 100th anniversary of the Halifax Explosion and the generosity that came after it. Created by United Way Halifax, it’s an opportunity for Haligonians to tackle a volunteer project that will show our community some love. Register yourself and 4 others and on December 7, volunteer at a local non-profit for 1/2 day or full day.

To learn more, visit the Wake Up Halifax website.

 


Art Gallery of Nova Scotia

To mark the 100th anniversary of the devastating Halifax Explosion in 1917, Photopolis – a Halifax photography festival held every three years – established the Turtle Grove Project.

Through the project Indigenous youth artists and makers, with support from established artists and the community, participated in a unique opportunity to learn more about an early Mi'kmaq settlement by the Narrows that was destroyed the morning of December 6th, 100 years ago.

The result of the project is Kepe'kek from the Narrows of the Great Harbour, a collaborative photo-based exhibition, which is available from September 30, 2017 to January 14, 2018.

To learn more, visit the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia website.

 


Army Museum, Halifax Citadel 

The exhibition The City Regiments Response to the Halifax Explosion recognizes the contribution of military personnel stationed in the Halifax region in search and rescue efforts and medical care immediately following the Halifax Explosion. The immediate deployment of military personnel, equipment and supplies in advance of a coordinated civic response is credited with reducing the number of fatalities.

By the 100th anniversary, the Army Museum will have installed a new artifact - The Watchman's Clock. This clock was found at the bottom of the Graving Dock at the waterfront during the recovery efforts, with the hands still frozen at 9:04:35.

The exhibit will be available from December 2 to 6, 10:00 am to 3:00 pm daily. Learn more at the Army Museum of Halifax's website.

 


Halifax Public Llibraries

Libraries Resource

In addition to hosting numerous commemorative events and presentations, public libraries in Nova Scotia are also an incredible resource about the Halifax Explosion. Explore the Halifax Public Libraries' new Halifax Explosion Resource Page, which includes an updated reading list and three photographic booklets showing the devastation in Halifax and Dartmouth.

 

 


Naval Museum of Halifax

The Naval Museum of Halifax (2725 Gottingen Street, Halifax) opened its updated Halifax Explosion exhibit in August, 2017. It explores the effects of the disaster on the Royal Canadian Navy, it's role in the search for survivors and recovery efforts and the establishment of the Halifax Relief Commission Public Health Unit No.1 in Admiralty House. We also look at the disaster in HMC Dockyard and our neighbourhood: north end Halifax.

 


North End Before and After Photograph Exhibition

The North End Business Association has organized a temporary display of “before and after” photographs in outdoor and storefront locations in the business district and an online map application. Placed “in situ” images of building and sites pre and post-Halifax Explosion helps viewers comprehend the scale of neighbourhood destruction and extent of reconstruction. This exhibit will be shown at multiple storefront locations in the north end of Halifax from September 6 until December 6, 2017.

Learn more on the association’s website or contact the exhibition organizer.

 


Dalhousie Art Gallery Exhibitions

Date: Availabe from October 12 October to December 17,  2017

Location: Dalhousie Art Gallery, 6101 University Avenue, Halifax

Hours: Tuesday to Friday, 11:00 am to 5:00 pm; Weekends, noon to 5:00 pm

Admission: Free

 

Walking the Debris Field: Public Geographies of the Halifax Explosion

Narratives in Space + Time Society

The Halifax Explosion reverberates as a definitive historic moment around which themes of destruction, reconstruction, urbanism, and community continue to circulate. From 2014 through 2017, as the centenary of the Explosion approaches, Narratives in Space + Time Society (NiS+TS) has presented a number of public walking events designed to explore the ways in which the disaster, the ensuing relief efforts, and the reconstruction continue to shape the diverse experiences and understandings of this city. Learn more at the Narratives in Space+Time Society website or Facebook page.

 

Claire Hodge: Negotiations

Curated by Peter Dykhuis

The Hydrostone neighbourhood, now nearly one hundred years old, is one of the most striking legacies of the Halifax Explosion. It stands as a powerful testament to the reconstruction efforts required to house the working-class families who were left homeless by the events of the Explosion. Halifax artist Claire Hodge has systematically photographed all of the existing homes to create a portrait of the changing face of a landmark neighbourhood. Hodge notes, “The Hydrostone townhomes reveal a complex set of negotiations realized tacitly or explicitly by the people who have lived there. Some blocks of houses are united in their aesthetic vision. Others seem to attest to greater individualist streaks and look strangely disjointed. Most often, the blocks of houses suggest a series of compromises between harmony and difference, between the ‘greater good’ and tenacious individualism.”

 

Arthur Lismer and the Halifax Explosion

Curated by Paige Connell and Peter Dykhuis

This exhibition highlights the work that Arthur Lismer, influential principal of the Victoria School of Art and Design (now NSCAD University), produced during his time in Halifax from 1916 to 1919. With the exception of the large oil painting Halifax Harbour—Time of War, from Dalhousie Art Gallery's own permanent collection, the works presented are a selection of preparatory drawings and oil sketches that were made in situ as the artist explored the city and shorelines on foot. The legacy of this ambulatory field work is its contribution to our understanding of Halifax’s history, both civic and military, during World War One. Among the most significant of these works are his chronicles of the Halifax Explosion, few of which are known to still exist.

 

Arthur Lismer and The Drama of a City

Selection of printed matter curated by Alan Ruffman

In addition to being an art educator and founding member of the Group of Seven, Arthur Lismer had also worked as a commercial illustrator and, while he lived in Halifax, produced illustrations for a number of publications, including The Drama of a City: The Story of Stricken Halifax by Stanley K. Smith. Published in early 1918, the book documents the aftermath of the Explosion and includes eleven original illustrations. Courtesy of historian Alan Ruffman, one of the few extant copies of this book will be on display, together with copies of the magazine Canadian Courier which, in the first four months of 1918, printed Lismer's 'on-the-spot' drawings related to the Explosion as Halifax began to rebuild.

 

From 2D to 3D: Mapping Halifax Over Time

Organised by James Boxall, GIS Specialist and Map Curator, Dalhousie University

The Dalhousie Libraries' GIS Centre has undertaken a project to create a website that explores the geographic history of Halifax by recreating historic images in 2D and 3D. The images allow people to view streets, buildings, and other topographic features and the changes that have occurred in Halifax over time. While future additions of data and imagery will extend back to pre-settlement in 1749, this exhibition presents depictions of Halifax from just before the Explosion to the present day.

 

For more information about these exhibitions, please visit www.artgallery.dal.ca.

 


People in the Face of Disaster: Remembering the Halifax Explosion

Location: Saint Patrick's Parish Hall, 2263 Brunswick Street, Halifax

Date: November 23 - December 11, 2017

Time: 11:00 am to 4:00 pm, daily

Saint Patrick's Parish is hosting an exhibit to mark the 100th Anniversary of the Halifax Explosion from November 23 until December 6, 2017. The exhibit will feature stories of organizations and ordinary citizens who did extraordinary things on that fateful day and in the recovery that followed. Led by historian and author Blair Beed and based on his book 1917 Halifax Explosion and American Response (Nimbus Publishing), it is a collection of various materials including books, furniture, and photographs.

Admission to this event is free. Learn more on the event’s Facebook page or contact the experience organizer.

 


Veith House/Halifax Children’s Foundation Mural

Location: Veith House, 3115 Veith Street, Halifax

Halifax Children’s Memorial Garden Project includes a painted mural depicting the site’s relationship with the Halifax Protestant Orphanage (c.1857) destroyed in the Halifax Explosion with the loss of fifteen lives. The facility was re-built and when it closed in 1969 the property was transferred to the Halifax Children’s Foundation to serve as a community centre.

Learn more on the organization’s website or contact the experience organizer.

 


Perkins School for the Blind

Located in Waterton, Massachusetts, Perkins School for the Blind is a progressive, multi-faceted organization committed to improving the lives of people with blindness and deafblindness all around the world.

To commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Halifax Explosion, Perkins created an online exhibit that focuses on the work of the school's third director, Edward E. Allen, who served as the Chairman of the American Red Cross Committee on Eye Victims of the Halifax Disaster. 

Broken into four sections, The Halifax Explosion Centennial Online Exhibit, provides excellent insight about the Explosion and various blindness relief efforts.

 


A City Destroyed: Experience the Halifax Explosion, 100 Years Later

On December 6, 1917, a munitions ship loaded with explosive cargo collided with another vessel in Halifax Harbour, resulting in one of the deadliest disasters in Canadian history. Presented by CBC, this interactive online experience re-creates that event and its aftermath in a 3D virtual environment. Explore "A City Destroyed"