100th Anniversary of the Halifax Explosion

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s.w.a.c.

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100th Anniversary of the Halifax Explosion

PostWed Dec 06, 2017 11:24 am

Newsreel footage of Halifax, Nova Scotia, in the wake of the Dec. 6, 1917 explosion of the French munitions ship Mont Blanc, which leveled much of the city, and left nearly 2,000 dead and thousands more injured (many blinded by flying glass from shattered windows).



I'm wondering if this was ever referenced in silent movies, or if anyone knows of any other acknowledgement of it (beyond the Hugh MacLennan novel Barometer Rising). It was such a major news item at the time, largest man-made explosion prior to Hiroshima, you'd think it would have had some impact in the world at large.
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s.w.a.c.

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Re: 100th Anniversary of the Halifax Explosion

PostWed Dec 06, 2017 11:26 am

The film footage was taken by W. G. MacLaughlan (whose great-granddaughter was at an event I attended last night), who also took official photos of damaged buildings, some including shell-shocked residents and neighbours in them.
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Jim Roots

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Re: 100th Anniversary of the Halifax Explosion

PostWed Dec 06, 2017 12:34 pm

Stephen, one human interest story that is consistently ignored in reminiscences of the Halifax explosion is mentioned only in Clifton Carbin's Deaf Heritage In Canada, pp 407-9.

The Halifax School for the Deaf was located on a hill; had it been one block further south, it would have been demolished. As it was, it was damaged to the extent of being closed for 14 months for repairs.

In the Deaf community, everyone has "name signs" -- shorthand signs to identify each person, in place of having to fingerspell names over and over again. Name signs very often reflect the person's physical distinctions. Following the explosion, the surviving Deaf students nearly all had their name signs changed to reflect their injuries. For example, if someone named Larry had sustained injuries that left scars on his wrist, his name sign would have been changed to one that traced the "L" handshape along the scar.

I met a few of these survivors many years ago (they are all dead now) and I can personally confirm Carbin's report.

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Re: 100th Anniversary of the Halifax Explosion

PostThu Dec 07, 2017 7:55 am

This story is pretty well unknown outside of Canada, hard to credit that even with wartime secrecy.
I was pretty well on in years before coming across the book "The curse of the narrows" which describes it.

While aspects of the story may have been used in the movies, the dangerous drifting ship etc, I do not believe it has ever been dramatized. Then there are other disaster stories that that seem to have escaped the cinema, the "Empress of Ireland" being one.
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Re: 100th Anniversary of the Halifax Explosion

PostThu Dec 07, 2017 8:29 am

I saw a two part TV movie about it, maybe a decade ago. It was major news, at least in Canada and the USA, where it was newspaper headline material and even the subject Extras.
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Re: 100th Anniversary of the Halifax Explosion

PostThu Dec 07, 2017 11:41 am

Jim Roots wrote:Stephen, one human interest story that is consistently ignored in reminiscences of the Halifax explosion is mentioned only in Clifton Carbin's Deaf Heritage In Canada, pp 407-9.

Amazingly, the event I attended on Tuesday was a premiere of explosion-related films, produced in association with the Atlantic Filmmakers' Co-Op. One of them was The Halifax Explosion: The Deaf Experience, an hour-long film devoted to this exact subject. I live about a 15-minute walk away from the former site of the Halifax School for the Deaf, so the project was quite fascinating to me. The film was completely silent (no score either), the narrators used a combination of ASL and MSL (Maritime Sign Language), and there were subtitles as well.

Also, the two-part miniseries, Shattered City: The Halifax Explosion, was just posted to YouTube this week on Encore+, a new YouTube channel devoted to Canadian programming.

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Re: 100th Anniversary of the Halifax Explosion

PostThu Dec 07, 2017 11:43 am

The one place outside Canada where the Halifax Explosion is well-remembered is Boston. Nova Scotia supplies the official Christmas tree for the city every year, as thanks for the aid that the city provided to Halifax immediately after the disaster.
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Re: 100th Anniversary of the Halifax Explosion

PostThu Dec 07, 2017 12:10 pm

I remember the Deaf community of Halifax was making that film, but I've never seen it. A lot of the people involved in its production are friends or acquaintances I've known for 30+ years. Wish I could see it ... No doubt it is posted somewhere on the Yube.

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Re: 100th Anniversary of the Halifax Explosion

PostThu Dec 07, 2017 2:06 pm

Thanks for posting. The Arts & Entertainment Channel did a 1hr program on the Halifax Explosion back in the 1990s. I remember seeing it along with another 1hr docu. on the Karluk Disaster of 1914 in Alaska, and maybe Sir Ernest Shackleton's 1914 Antarctic Expedition.

The original A&E presentation as it has gravitated towards sister network HistoryChannel now just History.com:
http://www.history.com/this-day-in-hist ... -explosion

http://www.history.com/this-day-in-hist ... ian-harbor
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Re: 100th Anniversary of the Halifax Explosion

PostFri Dec 08, 2017 8:52 am

Jim Roots wrote:I remember the Deaf community of Halifax was making that film, but I've never seen it. A lot of the people involved in its production are friends or acquaintances I've known for 30+ years. Wish I could see it ... No doubt it is posted somewhere on the Yube.

It's still in premiere mode, I think this week was the first public screening, and there are more to come locally.

They've got a Facebook page, worth keeping an eye on it.
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