5 December 1917 – Halifax Harbour

“Halifax, N.S. from the Harbour.”
Credit: Canada. Dept. of Interior / Library and Archives Canada/PA-047994.

On this day in 1917, the SS Imo, a ship delivering food relief to occupied Belgium, is delayed in taking on coal in the Halifax Harbour. Meanwhile, at the mouth of the harbour, a French munitions ship, the SS Mont Blanc, is held up by the Examining Officer. During the delay, the anti-submarine nets running across the harbour at George’s Island close for the night, sealing off shipping traffic from passing in or out. The Imo is essentially “locked in”, while the Mont Blanc is “locked out”. With nothing left to do, both ship’s harbour pilots call it a night. A seemingly small inconvenience will prove to have dire consequences for Halifax.

“Looking north from grain elevator towards Acadia Sugar Refinery showing the area later devastated by the 1917 Halifax Explosion. Circa 1900.”
Credit: Nova Scotia Archives / negative: N-7014.