Government of Canada Commemorates Halifax Explosion National Historic Event 

News Release

December 6, 2017                                           Halifax, Nova Scotia                                                   Parks Canada Agency


Canada’s national parks, historic sites, and marine conservation areas enable Canadians to experience their rich and varied history in a special way. To celebrate the 150th anniversary of Confederation in 2017, the Government of Canada invites Canadians to experience nature and learn more about our history.

Andy Fillmore, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Democratic Institutions and Member of Parliament for Halifax, on behalf of the Minister of Environment and Climate Change and Minister responsible for Parks Canada, Catherine McKenna, today recognized the national historic significance of the Halifax Explosion with the unveiling of a Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada (HSMBC) plaque. The plaque was unveiled during the 100th Anniversary Halifax Explosion Memorial Service organized by the City of Halifax.

The Government of Canada is committed to connecting Canadians to the significant people, places, and events that contributed to our country’s rich diverse heritage. On December 6th, 1917, the Norwegian vessel SS Imo collided with the French cargo ship SS Mont Blanc in Halifax Harbour. The SS Mont Blanc was laden with wartime explosives and the massive explosion destroyed buildings, set neighbourhoods on fire, and caused a tidal wave, leading to further devastation. The explosion resulted in some 2,000 deaths and injured thousands more.

The unprecedented scale of the devastation caused a tremendous local, national, and international outpouring of aid and support, most notably from the City of Boston and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Neighbourhoods devastated as a result of the Halifax Explosion were rebuilt to safer standards and innovative urban designs. In addition, medical treatment, social welfare, and public health saw advances and improvements, notably in pediatric surgery, and in the creation of the Canadian National Institute for the Blind.

This year also marks the centennial of national historic sites, and Parks Canada invites Canadians to discover and be inspired by the stories of the people, places, and events that shaped the Canada of today. We encourage you to learn more about our country’s history, and discover truly Canadian places and stories with Parks Canada.

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"The sheer magnitude of the Halifax Explosion and the resulting devastation was staggering. With 2,000 people killed and 9,000 more wounded, it was a defining moment in our nation’s history with profound and long-lasting consequences locally and nationally. One positive consequence amidst the destruction was the way that Halifax and communities as far away as Boston rallied to give comfort to the wounded and to rebuild the city - acts of compassion and determination that inspire us to this day. As we mark the 150th anniversary of Confederation, I encourage all Canadians to take this opportunity to learn more about this tragic event in our country’s history."

Andy Fillmore,
Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Democratic Institutions and Member of Parliament for Halifax

Quick Facts

  • The Halifax Explosion was the largest man-made explosion prior to the atomic bomb. It killed nearly 2,000 people, injured another 9,000, destroyed 1,630 homes, and damaged thousands more.

  • The numerous eye injuries, primarily caused by windows shattering as people stood in their homes to watch the fire, changed the surgical procedures and eye care in Canada, providing a major push for the formation of the Canadian National Institute for the Blind.

  • The HSMBC plaque for the Halifax Explosion National Historic Event will be installed at the Fort Needham Memorial Park in Halifax.

  • Created in 1919, the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada advises the Minister of Environment and Climate Change regarding the national historic significance of places, people, and events that have marked Canada’s history.

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Claudine Laforce
Partnering, Engagement and Communications Officer
Parks Canada

Media Relations
Parks Canada Agency

Joanne Macrae
MP Halifax Constituency Office


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