and the Halifax Explosion
This marker is composted exclusively pictures and their captions. There is a left side and a right side to the marker. Captions are presented left to right, then top to bottom. Click on the marker image to enlarge it.
? This view from Fort Needham
was drawn and engraved by Lieutenant Colonel Edward Hick, a British officier stationed in Halifax with the 70th Regiment of Foot from 1778 to 1782
. The fort consisted of wooden buildings, for the defence of the Dockyard. Later fortifications, on George Island, Point Pleasant and the Citadel made Fort Needham of less importance and the fort was allowed to deteriorate, leaving little trace.
? Fort Needham
is part of the field of egg-shaped hills or drumlins left from glaciers that crossed the region c. 20,000 years ago
. The topographic map
shows the site of Fort Needham (marked with (bell)) and water depth of the harbour.
On the morning of December, 6, 1917
, two ships, the Norwegian Imo
and the French Mont- Blanc
, which carried a full cargo of munitions bound for the war in France, collided. Sparks ignited the barrels of benzol on its deck. The fire quickly spead to the munitions, causing a spectacular cloud of smoke and flashes of flame. The burning ship remained afloat for nearly twenty minutes, drifting ever closer to the busy docks and to Richmond. This gave time for people, seemingly unaware of the danger, to gather, some on Fort Needham, to watch the exciting spectacle. Seconds before 9:05 a.m., touching Pier 6, Mont-Blanc
exploded, its thick steel shattering into fragments that flew over a radius of more than three miles.
? A thick, oily fog covered the area. Wooden houses were smashed, factories destroyed, adding to the toll of death and injuries. Final figures, in this - the largest pre-atomic man-made explosion, listed over two thousand killed
, many thousand injured, nine thousand left homeless.
? The area of complete devastation lay around Fort Needham
like an apron. S.S. Imo
was beached against the Dartmouth
? The map
produced for the Halifax Relief Commission
created in January 1918
to take over relief organization, shows the extent of the devastation and damage of the explosion.
? Crews cleared up the wreckage of all that remained of the once thriving district of Richmond
? Construction of the row of streets and the stores between Novalea Drive (formerly Gottingen Street), where it borders Fort Needham, and Isleville Street began in September 1918. They were built of blocks of a type of cement, called hydrostone. The material gave this district its name ?The Hydrostone
. The design was by British planner Thomas Adams, known for garden cities. Houses, originally for those who had been left homeless, and stores, were rented by the Halifax Relief Commission for over fifty years before being sold. The Commission gave the funds to create the Fort Needham Memorial Park
?The 1910 Panorama
for the Dartmouth Shore shows the settlement known as Richmond
. Industries, railway and docks had been built along the harbour, giving plentiful employment. Among them was the Acadia Sugar Refinery, the tallest building east of Montreal (center of panorama). There were churches, schools and variety of stores.
?Damage to the houses on this part of Gottingen Street
, sheltered by Fort Needham
, was very serious, but they did not catch fire.
?The snowstorm that began on December 7 covered the devastation and made rescue work more difficult. These ruins are the remains of the Acadia Sugar Refinery
?Postcards, like this one of Hills & Sons Foundry
, where forty one workers died, were issued soon after the event.
?Four churches were demolished in the blast. Presbyterians and Methodists later decided to share one new building. It became the United Memorial Church
. In its towner was hung a carillon of bells, given by Barbara Orr, in memory of her mother, father, two sisters and three brothers, all of whom were killed. The family home and printing works were wrecked. The weight and vibration prove too much for the towner, and the bells were removed. In 1985
the new tower was dedicated. Designed by Keith Graham, it represented the jagged ruins, and with is upward thrust, hope for the future. As she had done in 1921, Barbara
once more played the carillon, this time on a keyboard inside the towner, not with great levers as before. The Memorial Bell Tower
overlooks Richmond Street, which leads to the site of the former Pier 6
, where the burning ship blew up, and also the reconstructed area that was once Richmond, destroyed in the Halifax Explosion of December 6, 1917.