Disasters like the Halifax Explosion don’t just happen out of the blue for no reason. Many factors must fall into place to set the stage. For the cities of Halifax and Dartmouth, the perfect storm started three years earlier.
On August 4, 1914, Canada joined allied forces and went to war with the Central Powers in Europe (Germany, Austria-Hungary and Turkey). The ice-free harbour of Halifax was strategically located, making it a vital link to the conflict overseas. It was the perfect staging area for trans-Atlantic convoys. Military personnel from across the country congregated in Halifax and Dartmouth. They either prepared for transport overseas or remained at military facilities to help with the war effort on this side of the Atlantic. Hospital ships arrived at the port bringing war-torn troops from Britain to home. Civilian men and women also came for many reasons, including to work as labourers.
The many military ships, merchant vessels and other types of watercraft created heavy traffic in Halifax Harbour. Add to this the types of cargo transported, such as fuel, ammunition and explosives, made it a recipe for disaster.
The Coldest December is a short story collection published in December 2017 to mark the 100th anniversary of the Explosion. Eleven Nova Scotia authors tell of the events through fictional stories. To learn more about the anthology, visit The Coldest December.