Immediate Responses to the Explosion


What follows in the days after a disaster.

Aftermath is a drift through the Halifax landscape of the explosion, exploring some of the events that followed immediately after the disaster. Music and sound are featured in several sites along a route that includes ghostly locations such as the Orphanage, the Cotton Mill and the morgue at the Chebucto School.

“Of all the comrades that e'er I had
They are sorry for my going away
And all the sweethearts that e'er I had
They would wish me one more day to stay.”
-from The Parting Glass, traditional Irish song, 17thC

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.


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.


Veith House

Site of the former ‘Halifax Protestant Orphans’ Home, destroyed in the explosion.
Aftermath2 1 Anti War Song Poster
‘I Didn’t Raise My Boy to Be A Soldier’ Written by Alfred Bryan & Al. Piantadosi. Morton Harvey, tenor, with orchestra. 1914.
I Didn't Raise My Boy To Be A Soldier
Morton Harvey with Orchestra
7 18 4  Veith House Winter
Veith House was built as part of the Halifax Relief Commission reconstruction efforts. It is now a community centre dedicated to the well-being of families affected by poverty.

Vincent Street

7 19 1  Corner Of Vincent St

This section of Albert Street was renamed for Vincent Coleman, the telegraph operator memorialized in the Canadian Heritage minute. If you are on the water, and look up the hill, you can just about see this section of Albert Street.

2 2 03 Vincent Street

Hydrostone Marker

Narratives in Space and Time welcomes you to the Debris Field
1 1  Dsc6323
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

The Patricia

05A Lions Head
Inside the Lion’s Head Tavern, you will see many historic photographs, including these of a Mi’kmaq encampment and the Patricia, Halifax’s first motorized fire engine.
05B Patricia 1
The Patricia was quick to respond to the fire on the waterfront.
Pat Kipping tells the story of the firefighting response to the explosion.
Members of the Xara Choral Theatre Ensemble surprise walkers with a performance of songs from the explosion era. Performers in these photos include Claire Leger, Colleen MacIsaac, Leah Pritchard, Jennifer Trites, Kallie White.
Xara Choral Theatre worked with author Ami Mckay to develop a new production in 2017 to commemorate the work done by midwives in the aftermath of the explosion: The Hours Turn to Nothing. This is an excerpt.

Cotton Mill

Young and Robie is where the Dominion Textiles Cotton Mill once stood. Today, industry, housing and commerce co-exist in the North End

2 5 Young At North
The Dominion Textiles Cotton Mill took up the whole block at the time of the explosion; just across the street from this location today. This painting was done in 2008 by Jake Seibert.
21A Dominion Textile Mill
Many workers lost their lives here when the building collapsed.
Architecture Professor Brian Lilley describes the distinguishing characteristics of this kind of industrial building, for the time.
The Dominion Textiles Cotton Mill took up the whole block at the time of the explosion.

Zoning Debates

2 6 1 Ns Car Works Feb 11 1918 Gauvin And Gentzel
Attempts to create the best relationships between commerce, industry and housing in this part of the city started in the 1800’s, and continue to be vexing issues today. Archival photograph of the Nova Scotia Car Works (which was at this location in 1917), destroyed in Explosion. Courtesy NS Archives, Gauvin and Gentzel
2 6 2 Mr  Transmission

North at Clifton

People walking just outside the bottle exchange on Clifton Street. The Halifax North End starts at North Street, or maybe as far ‘north’ as Young Street
2 7 1 North At Clifton
Life on Clifton Street
2 7 2 North At Clifton

The Morgue

On a previous walk, vocalist Janice Jackson performed in the basement of the Conservatory, with piano accompaniment by Evan Rensch.
Four Songs
Evan Rensch

Postcards of the Ruins! Halifax and Dartmouth. Cox Bros., Halifax, NS, 1918’ Images courtesy of Nova Scotia Archives.


Aftermath Reprise

Thank you for walking the Aftermath Drift


Halifax Train Station

Africville3 13And2 11 Train Station
The main Halifax train station at the time of the explosion was located closer to the waterfront, not far from where the footing of the bridge is now, near Valour Way. The blast of the explosion caused the glass roof of the station to smash and collapse onto the platforms and waiting areas below. Image courtesy of Nova Scotia Archives, Photo Drawer - Places - Halifax - Explosion, 1917 - Postcards. Negative: N-822
9 5 2 Halifax Train Station 2017

Firefighter's Memorial

2 11 Firefighters
Nine firefighters lost their lives in responding to the call for help following the explosion. This memorial recognizes their contributions and sacrifices.

Snow & Co.

09 Coffins Nscad Copy
Argyle Street at the corner of George Street, Halifax, showing pine coffins supplied to Snow and Co., Undertakers, second building from the corner, for victims of the explosion. Building in the foreground was the Victoria School of Art and Design, and is now the Five Fishermen restaurant. Image by W.G.MacLaughlan

More Drifts

Debris Field

Public Geographies of the Halifax Explosion

View Drift

Towards Pier 6

Ground Zero: the site of the explosion

View Drift