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People in the Face of Disaster -
Remembering the Halifax Explosion

A curated exhibit by local historian Blair Beed, honouring the 100th Anniversary of the Halifax Explosion, December 6, 2017.

St. Patrick’s was pleased to host this incredible look at daily life before the explosion and the aftermath of the disaster.

Saint Patrick's Parish hosted an exhibit to mark the 100th Anniversary of the Halifax Explosion from November 23 until December 6, 2017. The exhibit featured stories of organizations and ordinary citizens who did extraordinary things on that fateful day and in the recovery that followed. Led by historian and author Blair Beed and based on his book "1917 Halifax Explosion and America's Response" (Nimbus Publishing), it was a collection of various materials including books, furniture, and photographs loaned by private collectors.


No government money was available for the exhibit. The Parish provided the space, lights and heat with office support. The rest of the expenses were privately funded.


Over 1200 people attended the exhibit between November 23 and December 6, 2017. Local and national media outlets covered various aspects of the exhibit. The exhibit was used as background for various news stories and interviews.  Segments appeared on Global News Morning with Paul Brothers, CBC Evening News with Colleen Jones, CTV Atlantic with Bruce Frisco, CTV 24 Hour News, and CTV National News with anchor Lisa LaFlamme.

Saint Patrick's is an appropriate place to host an exhibit on the Halifax Explosion as the building survived the disaster and needed extensive repairs to open again. (photo above)

The Exhibition Opened on November 23rd at 3:00 pm with remarks by Rick Butler as MC, prayer by Deacon Art Mitchell, remarks by His Worship Mike Savage, Mayor of Halifax, remarks by Blair Beed, exhibit chair and parish historian. World War One music played by Ged Blackmore.

His Grace the Archbishop of Halifax/Yarmouth, 2 members of the Nova Scotia Legislature, local are clergy, descendants of Explosion victims and survivors and parish members were in attendance. Janice Coyle and Margaret Snow wore period costume and assisted in directing people around the exhibit. Debbie O'Leary hosted the Saint Bridget gift shop were books on the explosion were for sale. A reception and viewing were held after the remarks.

Welcome area consisted of a sign in book, materials on other exhibits, fire safety booklets from the Halifax Regional Fire Service, the Saint Bridget's gift shop and coat cupboard. Handouts were created by Emilie Pothier, Dalhousie student who worked in preparing for the exhibit in the summer months. 

The Exhibit started with a showcase featuring items that would have been in Halifax homes in 1917. Souvenirs of well known Halifax sites, visitor guide books, postcards, a map of the war featuring kings and queens of the countries involved in the war in Europe. A portrait of the late Queen Victoria hung over the showcase. In 1917 she would have been dead only 16 years after ruling for 63 years so the framed print would have been still prominent in many homes.

Next came a history wall showing photographs of Halifax before the war with sports teams, houses of Halifax, maps of 1873, 1890 and c 1914.

The second part of the history wall featured recruitment posters for king and country with photographs of local regiments.

Opposite the history wall were 'rooms' made up with items that would have been found in homes in 1917.

- a Grandmother's parlour

- A kitchen

- A bedroom

the sitting parlour of Mother Berchman at Mount Saint Vincent.

Refreshment area wall area was covered with an enlarged photos of the Explosion cloud and continuous showing of film clips of the disaster damage in 1917, trains taking away the injured and the rebuilding of the Richmond District.

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