Did you know?
Although World War I was not fought on Canadian soil, the largest single explosion of the war occurred in Halifax.
Neither the Imo nor the Mont Blanc were supposed to be where they were on the morning of December 6th, 1917. The Mont Blanc was delayed on its journey from New York by a storm and the Imo’s departure was delayed due to a coal barge that arrived late for refueling. Neither vessel was able to enter or leave the harbour late on the 5th because the submarine gates, intended to keep out German submarines, were closed.
An inquiry into the explosion found that both pilots were to blame.
Help poured into Halifax from the Boston area. To this day, the people of Halifax send a gigantic Christmas tree to Boston each year as an expression of their gratitude.
Some scientists believe that the heat from the explosion was so intense that the people in the immediate vicinity of the ship were vaporized; the water in their bodies simply turned to steam and they disappeared.
A telegraph operator by the name of Vince Coleman was a hero. When the Harbour Master realized which ship was burning, he asked Vince Coleman to send a message warning incoming trains to stop. He stayed to send the message, knowing that he would die, and actually said his goodbyes in his message. Vince Colemen was killed that day, but the trains and their passengers were saved.
Scientists believe that the Citadel, which sits atop the hill in Halifax, deflected the force of the explosion and, consequently, helped save more of Halifax from complete destruction.
When I was writing Chaos in Halifax, I gave the manuscript the working title “Chaos in Halifax”. Once the manuscript was complete, the publisher asked me to come up with a title. I brainstormed more than 1000 titles for this novel (no exaggeration), but the publisher wasn’t too keen on any of them for various reasons. So finally, I sent an e-mail listing my favourite ten titles for “Chaos in Halifax”, and they all agreed that they liked the working title. I couldn’t believe it, but I like the title too.