Halifax Explosion

The Halifax Explosion by Ken Cuthbertson

Brendan’s Alternate Tagline for The Halifax Explosion:

When Canada decides to go big, they go really big.

Quick synopsis:

The story of the Halifax Explosion of 1917, one of the worst man-made disasters in history.

Fun Fact Non-History People Will Like:

This is still the largest non-nuclear man-made explosion in human history.

Fun Fact for History Nerds:

Vincent Coleman, a railway telegraph operator, sent a final telegraph to stop an incoming train from coming into the blast area knowing it would most likely cost him his life. The message finished with, “Guess this will be my last message. Good-bye boys.” He was right.

My Take on The Halifax Explosion:

You ever heard the saying, “like ships passing in the night”? Well, the Halifax Explosion is what happened when two ships decided to collide in the morning. One of them was filled with both high explosives and extremely volatile accelerants. What followed is an explosion so big it is difficult to describe except to say only a nuclear bomb is bigger. Or a volcano.

What happens when an explosion that big goes off in a populated area? Eyeballs explode. Wood, glass, and metal become projectiles which will cut through anything. This all assumes you haven’t already been completely incinerated by being too close to the blast.

Ken Cuthbertson focuses on the politics and the system which allowed this disaster to happen including unclear military communications and everyone’s habit of passing the buck and going their own way. No matter what you focus on, this story is truly amazing.


A good book on a little-known event in World War I history. Buy it here!

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