Halifax, Nova Scotia. May 1982.
Ruins of old fortifications at the tip of Point Pleasant Park, at the southern tip of the city. In the distance across the harbor is McNabs Island.
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Halifax is the Capital of Nova Scotia, and its largest city. Occupying a strategic location on the provinces Atlantic coast, the city and its neighbor Dartmouth surround one of the largest natural harbors in the world.
The city was founded in 1749 and first named “Chebucto”. Shortly afterwards, it was renamed in honor of George Dunk, Earl of Halifax and chief lord of trade and settlement. To counter the French settlement at Louisbourg, 2500 settlers were recruited to settle here. Before the first winter, few houses were built, and half the settlers fled south to the American colonies.
On December 6, 1917, Halifax was the site of the greatest man-made explosion before Hiroshima (1945). At 8:45 in the morning, the Belgian shop Imo collided with the French munitions ship Mont Blanc in the narrowest part of the harbor. The collision ignited benzol stored on the deck of the Mont Blanc, which then seeped into the hold. At 9:06, the benzol ignited 2766 tonnes of picric acid, TNT, and guncotton. The resulting explosion levelled two and a half square kilometers of Halifax’s industrial district. Windows were shattered even up to 100km away in Truro, and the blast was even heard in Prince Edward Island.
That morning, 1600 people died, 9000 were injured, and 6000 were left homeless. Destroyed buildings numbered 1600, with another 12,000 damaged. To make matters worse, poor weather hindered the subsequent evacation of the city because of the risk of further explosions.