6 December 1917 is a day indelibly etched in the hearts and minds of the citizens of Halifax and Dartmouth, Nova Scotia. On that Thursday the Norwegian vessel SS Imo, carrying Belgian relief supplies, and the French freighter SS Mont Blanc, carrying munitions, collided in Halifax Harbour, thereby creating what was then considered to be the worst man-made disaster in the world's history.
View thirteen minutes of black-and-white moving images attributed to professional cameraman W.G. MacLaughlan. The film is an early news documentary from the silent-screen era, capturing in eerie silence the waste and devastation of a city destroyed, and the efforts that went into rebuilding it. Newly re-mastered in digital format and running in close to 'real time', these film clips provide the clearest views and the closest details ever seen of the terrible days immediately following 6 December 1917.
The most important archival resource for studying the Halifax Explosion is the nearly 60 meters of records accumulated by the Halifax Relief Commission, 1917-1978. View a brief description of this material to plan for in-depth research.
Explore one of the defining events in Halifax’s long history, through on-the-scene documentation generated in the days immediately following the disaster.
The Nova Scotia Archives is pleased to host the online version of a project sponsored by the Halifax Foundation. The 'Halifax Explosion Remembrance Book' is the first really definitive listing for those killed in the disaster of 6 December 1917. The online version features a searchable database with detailed information for 1946 casualties – more than 300 of whom have been confirmed and identified in recent years.
The dynamic story of how Halifax was rebuilt in the years immediately following the disaster is re-created through 150 heritage photographs, maps, architectural plans and documents, plus useful background information. An ideal source for school projects – and a powerful visual memory of a city destroyed and rebuilt.
Presented here for the first time in 100 years are 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.
Listen and watch videos based on the stories of five survivors. Hear their accounts of the disaster voiced and see what they saw, as life began again, through the images by W. G. MacLaughlan in January and February of 1918 as he photographed what was still standing in these neighborhoods.