The Anniversary of the Halifax Explosion

Today at 9:05 am, we mark the 104th anniversary of the Halifax Explosion, the largest man-made explosion at the time. More than 2,000 individuals lost their life and thousands more were injured.

The Nova Scotia Archives lists the names of 1783 known victims. The list includes the name, place, age and date of death, which for most is December 6, 1917.

The first on the list is Lottie Aarestrup of 31 Veith Street, Halifax. She was 40 years old. Next is Foster William Aarestrup, age 8, of the same address. This was probably her son.

Anyone researching this event or family that may have been involved will find this list a great place to start. To dig further into this tragedy, visit the Nova Scotia Genealogy website where birth, marriage and death records are available.

There you’ll find Lottie Aarestrup’s death record. It states she was a married housewife. Her husband was H. F. Aarestrup. She died from shock, due to injuries in the explosion. She was a member of the Church of England and was buried at Camp Hill Cemetery, Halifax.

The next entry was for he son, Foster. He died of the same cause and was buried with his mother. Both had been born in Halifax. H. F. Aarestrup survived and was the informant for both records.

Another search uncovered H. F. Aarestrup as Harry Foster Aarestrup, son of Matilda Conroy and Albert J. Aarestrup. He died October 31, 1954, age 74 years, and was buried at Camp Hill.

On the same page of the death record were others who died that day: Willie Latham, age 8 months, of 30 1/2 Veith Street, son of William Latham, his charred remains were buried with his mother; Daisy Pickering, age 22, of North Albert Street, housewife, husband of Harold Pickering, informant was her brother, Robert Dauphine; Charles Squires, adult, of 20 Russell Street, grocer, his remains were not found or identified; Ira Clark McMillan, age 8, of New Glasgow, born in Truro, NS, son of Davis S. McMillan.

The Coldest December

The lives lost and destroyed that day left a deep scare in those who lived in the communities along its shores. This included Halifax, Dartmouth, Bedford, Tufts Cove, Woodside and several other small communities.

The Coldest December, a short story collection published in 2017 to mark the one hundred year anniversary, contains 11 original stories by Nova Scotia authors. Stories either take place during the explosion or shortly afterwards. One takes place in 1944 when the second Halifax Explosion, a much smaller explosion, took place.

The anthology is available at Amazon.

Learn more about the book and the authors here.

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