An Extension Activity That Brings the Past to Life in Your Classroom

We were completely gripped by the story of the largest non-nuclear explosion in history: The 1917 Explosion in Halifax Harbor. One of our favorite resources we came across was an interactive timeline of the collision of the two ships, the Mont-Blanc and the Imo. After your students read the Scope article “The Shattered Sky,” explore this resource to discover more fascinating photos, primary sources, and a radio interview recounting another side of the story—that of Captain Francis Mackey. Afterwards, your students can complete the activity below.


The Imo aground on the Dartmouth side of Halifax Harbour after the explosion (Nova Scotia Archives)


Guiding Question:

How did the 1917 Explosion in Halifax Harbor affect the city of Halifax?


To Explore:

This interactive timeline created by historian and writer Janet Maybee illustrates the collision between the Mont-Blanc and the Imo. Have students listen to the radio interview with Pilot Francis Mackey as he recounts the events leading up to the explosion and the hours immediately afterward.


To Do:

Have students imagine that they are journalists from Nova Scotia in 1917 reporting on the events of the explosion. Using information from the interactive timeline and the Scope article “The Shattered Sky," students can do their report in the form of radio segment (using audio recording), a newspaper article, or a series of telegrams (using live tweets).

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