Debris Field

Public Geographies of the Halifax Explosion

Overview

This drift in the debris field of the Halifax Explosion introduces you to some key areas of what was known as Richmond, including Fort Needham, the Hydrostone district, and Mulgrave Park. You can see the Narrows (where the Imo and the Mont-Blanc collided) from some vantage points, but not the site of Pier 6 (where the Mont-Blanc exploded). Across the harbour on the Dartmouth side, Tufts Cove, Shannon Park and the site of the Mi’kmaq community of Turtle Grove are visible.

The route is a suggestion, but feel free to wander and explore. You may contribute your own photos, videos and comments along the way.

Stay safe in the debris field.

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Ground Zero

1 0 A 1917 Map
1 0 B Blast Cloud
1 0 C Assembly Hall
In the decades since the explosion, the Graving Dock and Shipyard businesses grew, and now they are both part of the Irving empire. The Irving Shipyard is where Canada’s east coast Navy procurement program is centred; Arctic patrol vessels are being assembled here now. They will play an important role in the Canadian Arctic, as climate change frees up the waterways, and resources, that are now locked in ice.

Ground Zero, where the SS Mont-Blanc exploded, is next to where Pier 6 stood at the foot of Richmond Street. This location is now within the Halifax Shipyard, Irving Shipbuilding Inc.

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Hydrostone Marker

Narratives in Space and Time welcomes you to the Debris Field
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Hydrostone National Historic Site (1993). Distance to Ground Zero 950 metres.
1 1 Hydrostone Marker
Hydrostone National Historic Site (1993). Distance to Ground Zero 950 metres
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Monuments

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Disasters can be marked by monuments, anti-monuments and counter-monuments.

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Memorial Bell Tower

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Walkers approaching Halifax Explosion Memorial Bell Tower, December 6, 2014.
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The monument was designed to lead you down to Ground Zero

Brian Downey quotes David Suzuki & Harlow Shapley, showing how we all share in the air we breathe.
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Gap Between the Trees

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The monument was designed to lead you down to Ground Zero.
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Moving down the hill, towards Richmond Street.
1 4A Gap Between The Trees
1 4B Gap Between The Trees
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Acadia Sugar Refinery

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Model of the Acadia Sugar Refinery, built by Anton Christiansen.
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The sugar refinery was a major structure on the Halifax waterfront, completely destroyed within minutes during and after the explosion, with great loss of life.
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Walkers pause to reflect on the impact of the explosion. The destruction of the model included the smell of sugar burning.
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View of Pier 6

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If you could see through the Irving Assembly Hall, you could see Ground Zero.
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Pier 6 before the explosion, c. 1898. ‘Richmond Piers’ by Gauvin & Gentzel.
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64 Connor Lane

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Welcome to Mulgrave Park. This detail is from the 1878 City Atlas of Halifax, Nova Scotia Archives.
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Mulgrave Park housing development, built as part of Halifax’s “urban renewal” in the early 1960s.
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View of the Narrows

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The vista from here includes the Dartmouth waterfront, including the site where the Mi’kmaq settlement of Turtle Grove once was.
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This is the best view of the Narrows from the Halifax side.
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Inside Mulgrave Park

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Mulgrave Park is the largest residential development closest to Ground Zero.
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‘The slope of the site would require terracing and retaining walls, which were used to define parking and play areas. After its completion in October 1960, the Mulgrave Park project won numerous awards for its quality.’ (Peter Ziebrowski, builthalifax.ca).
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Map of debris field area including Mulgrave Park (Nova Scotia Archives).
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Opening Day at Mulgrave Park.
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Caring & Learning Centre

Elaine Williams talks to us about the Mulgrave Park community today.

Mulgrave Park is now home to a collection of contemporary wall murals.

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‘Live Out Your Dreams’: Around the corner from the Caring & Learning Centre, you can see the Tyler Richards mural, a memorial to a young man from Mulgrave Park.
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‘Walk Your Own Path’ through Mulgrave Park.
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Richmond School on Roome Street

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Grades 5 & 6 in the Richmond School on Roome Street, 1916. Image courtesy of Maritime Museum of the Atlantic.
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The site of the Richmond School on Roome Street in the days following the explosion. Image courtesy of Nova Scotia Archives.
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Debris from the explosion was often reused during the reconstruction. Some of the stone work in this garden was recovered from the foundation of the former Roome Street School.
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Black Rain

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There are many accounts of ‘black rain’ falling in this neighbourhood. These are examples of what is believed to be debris from the explosion.

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XYZ Marker

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The XZY marker is a ‘counter-monument’ made by students in a Dalhousie University School of Architecture Design and Build Freelab course in the summer of 2014. The sculptural design references the use of X, Y and Z coordinates in 3D drawing, and also hearkens back to the house foundations and chimneys left on the Richmond slope after the explosion.
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1 13 Xyz Braille Detail
During the explosion, many people lost their eyesight. The XYZ marker lists the names of the known dead in Braille. After the explosion, the Canadian National Institute for the Blind established strong roots here, with so many people to assist.
Printers Stones
The stones lining the driveway behind the XYZ marker are originally from the Richmond Printing Company, which was destroyed in the explosion. The Printing Company building was located on Campbell Road (now Barrington Street), closer to the Harbour.

Thank you for walking in the Debris Field.

More Drifts

Centenary Procession

100th anniversary of the explosion in the Halifax Harbour

View Drift

Aftermath

Immediate Responses to the Explosion

View Drift