On December 6, 1917, the French munitions ship Mont-Blanc and the Norwegian war-relief vessel Imo collided in the harbour at Halifax, Nova Scotia. That accident sparked a fire and an apocalyptic explosion that was the largest man-made blast prior to the 1945 dropping of the atomic bomb on Hiroshima. Together with the killer tsunami that followed, the explosion devastated the entire city in the wink of an eye and instantly killed more than 2,000 people.
While much has been written about the disaster, there is still more to the story, including the investigation of the key figures involved, the histories of the ships that collided, and the confluence of circumstances that brought these two vessels together to touch off one of the most tragic man-made disasters of the 20th century.
The Halifax Explosion is a fresh, revealing account that finally answers questions that have lingered for a century: Was the explosion a disaster triggered by simple human error? Was it caused by the negligence of the ships’ pilots or captains? Was it the result of shortcomings in harbour practices and protocols? Or was the blast—as many people at the time insisted—the result of sabotage carried out by wartime German agents?
December 6, 2017, marked the centennial of the most momentous event the city of Halifax has ever experienced. The Halifax Explosion tells the gripping, previously untold story of Canada’s worst disaster—a haunting tale of survival, incredible courage and, ultimately, the triumph of the human spirit.
About the author
KEN CUTHBERTSON is a veteran journalist with more than thirty years’ experience writing for newspapers and magazines in Canada, the US and the UK. His family origins are deeply rooted in Nova Scotia, the home of his maternal ancestors, who settled there in the early 18th century. He is the author of four books, including Inside: The Biography of John Gunther (shortlisted for the Governor General’s Literary Award for Non-fiction) and A Complex Fate: William L. Shirer and the American Century. Ken Cuthbertson lives in Kingston, Ontario, with his family.