Halifax Explosion, December 6 1917

The Halifax Explosion

From wikipedia: The Halifax Explosion was a maritime disaster in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada, on the morning of 6 December 1917., SS Mont-Blanc, a French cargo ship laden with high explosives, collided with the Norwegian vessel SS Imo in the Narrows, a strait connecting the upper Halifax Harbour to Bedford Basin. A fire on board the French ship ignited her cargo, causing a large explosion that devastated the Richmond district of Halifax. Approximately 2,000 people were killed by the blast, debris, fires or collapsed buildings, and an estimated 9,000 others were injured. The blast was the largest man-made explosion prior to the development of nuclear weapons, releasing the equivalent energy of roughly 2.9 kilotons of TNT (12,000 GJ). Read more here.

Newspaper Clippings from Robert L. Guild Bible

SWEET  In memory of my dear mother and father and little twin brother, William A. Sweet, Annie Laurie Sweet, and Robert Broden Sweet killed in the explosion at Halifax, December 6th, 1917.

Inserted by little sons, Laurier and Reid Sweet.

SWEET In loving memory of my dear daughter, Annie Laurie Sweet, also her husband, William Sweet, and little twin son, Robert Borden Sweet killed in the explosion December 6th, 1917 at their home 59 Duffus street. Gone but not forgotten. Inserted by Mrs. Sweet’s mother.


One of the saddest of the stories that came in yesterday was that of W. P. Henn, of the H.M.C.S. Niobe who lived formerly at 49 Duffus street. Mr. Henn hastened to his home after the explosion only to find it a wreck.

Frantically turning over the ruins he Found the charred and headless body of his wife sitting in a chair, with a fellow-tenant, Mrs. Sweet, laying dead across her lap. There was no sign of her little 15 months old baby, Eliza Hilda. Later on, while still turning over the ruins he found the severed head of his young wife. But the explosion had not even then completed its cruel work for Mr. Henn.

He next hurried to his mother’s House at 14 Veith street, only to discover that she, too, had been killed and the house destroyed. His wife’s father and mother lived close to Hillis’ foundry and no recognizable trace of the house or inmates remained. Mr. Henn seeks some tidings of his baby daughter whom he thinks was saved. Of his neighbours both Mr. and Mrs. Sweet were killed, but their three children were saved. A man claiming to be an eye witness tells of a woman with a baby held up in her arms being carried high in the air by the force of the explosion. Mr. Henn is an Englishman only ten years in this Country, but his wife was a Halifax girl. Any news of his little child would be a relief this grief stricken man.


At Ellershouse, on Jan 4, 1918, There passed away after a brief illness. One of the leading citizens of Ellershouse Robert Logan Guild in the 71st  year of his age. He was born in Middle Musquodoboit, March 29th, 1847 and moved to Ellershouse about fifty years ago.

In some relation or other he has been connected with the lumbering business all his life, with F. W. Beckman, N. L. Todd & Co., T.G. McMillen and later with the St. Croix Lumber Co. He married Amelia Caldwell, of Newport. Their children being Edward H., Barbara, the wife of John Smiley, Laurie, Gordon, Angus, Cecil,  Grace and Roberta.

The sad death of Laurie and her husband, Wm. Sweet, and little Borden Sweet in the Halifax disaster was a great blow to her father and he spent days in the city searching for those who perished. A heavy cold settled upon his throat and lungs from which he was unable to rally. The very large attendance at the funeral on last Sunday, evidenced the high regard for him in the heart of his friends whose sympathies go out towards the family circle in their sad bereavement.

The funeral services were conducted by Mr, Girdwood, assisted by Rev. Mr. Baxter. Remains. Remains were interred in the Ellershouse Cemetery.

About the author:

John D. Wilson is a lifelong resident of Nova Scotia. Born in Windsor Forks in 1939, he followed a career in the computer field. In 1975 John joined the Engineering Technology Department of the Nova Scotia Institute of Technology where he taught Electronic and Computer Technology. He led in the establishment of a number of training programs including the Automated Manufacturing Technology Program. John later joined the Adult Training Division of the Department of Education from which he retired in 1997.

John and his life partner, Laura (Baxter), live in Wentworth Creek where they raised two daughters who have given them the precious gift of three grandchildren.

History and genealogy have been John/s passion from childhood, West Hants Historical Society offered him a wealth of information on the community and its people. Here he studied records, assisted visitors from all over the world and developed deep friendship with fellow volunteers. He has served in many capacities with WHHS from volunteer, to researcher to President. John has researched a great deal of the history of Hants County and has written a number of related articles that he wishes to share on this Website.

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