On December 6th, it will be 93 years ago since the Great Explosion at Halifax. The Nova Scotia Archives, tweeting on twitter.com/NS_Archives, reminded me of this event. The strong bonds between Lewis and Canada were implicitly shown by the inclusion of this article in the Stornoway Gazette a week after the disaster.
Stornoway Gazette, 14 December 1917
On Thursday morning of last week, a great part of the city of Halifax, Nova Scotia, was wrecked by the explosion on a munition ship in the harbour, which collided with a large steamer containing food provisions for Belgium. Fires broke out in the part of the city nearest the harbour. Over 2000 people, it is said, were killed by the explosion and the falling of buildings.
Later news, on Monday morning, says that terrible suffering among the homeless population of Halifax has followed in the wake of the great disaster which swept the city on Thursday morning. A fierce blizzard is driving in from the Atlantic, and has cut off the stricken city from all direct communication with th eouter world. No trains reached Halifax on Sunday and the snow storm is interfering greatly with the work of relief among the inhabitants. The fires which spread throughout the city immediately after the explosion, and which in some instances burned for several days, have now been extinguished, and search is being made for the bodies of the killed and those seriously wounded who may still be lying buried beneath the wreckage. The heaviest loss of life was, unfortunately, amongst children. In some areas, whole schools were totally destroyed, every child in them being killed, and the loss of life among those innocent little ones alone rode into hundreds.
4000 Dwellings Destroyed
Twenty thousandof the survivors of this greatest disaster in Canada's history are homeless and destitute. Every building, not only in Halifax but in Dartmouth and other surrounding cities, was more or less damaged.
It is learned that the munition ship carried 4000 tons of the terrific explosive known as TNT. The force of the explosion was so great that a 40-foot tidal wave followed in the wake of the explosion and washed over the main lines of the rail road, sweeping 300 freight cars, 100 passenger coaches and 20 locomotives from the rails, and round houses, damaging most of them beyond repair.
Hospital cars and supplies are being sent from all parts of the States and Canada.