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Halifax Explosion Commemoration Event (Art exhibit opening and panel)

On the morning of December 6, 1917, the SS Mont-Blanc, heavily loaded with explosives, collided with the SS Imo. A fire caused by the collision ignited explosives aboard the Mont-Blanc, causing the largest human-made explosion prior to the development of nuclear weapons. The blast devastated areas on both sides of the Harbour including the Richmond district of Halifax and the Mi’kmaw community at Turtle Grove, killing approximately 2,000 people and injuring 9,000 others.

Join us on October 11 for this special event marking the upcoming 100 year commemoration of the Halifax Explosion. The event features experts from Dalhousie’s Faculties of Health, Arts & Social Sciences, and Architecture, the Narratives in Space + Time Society, and the Dalhousie Art Gallery.

6:00 pm - 7:00 pm: Opening of the Dal Art Gallery’s Halifax Explosion exhibit
7:00 pm - 8:30 pm: Halifax Explosion expert panel event, Dunn Theatre
8:30 pm: Social reception in the Dal Art Gallery


The Missing Link

Dr. David A. Sutherland, Retired History professor, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences

Presentation: David Sutherland’s presentation will explore the politics of memory and the shifting emphasis in recollection of the disaster of 1917.

Bio: David Sutherland is a retired history professor who taught classes in Canadian and Nova Scotian history at Dalhousie for more than 30 years. His research initially focused on pre-Confederation Halifax but then moved forward into the early 20th century, concentrating on social and political transformation. His new book, “We Harbor No Evil Design”: Rehabilitation Efforts after the Halifax Explosion of 1917 (University of Toronto Press for the Champlain Society) will be released this year. David currently serves on the committee advising Halifax City Council on preparations for commemoration of the disaster of 1917.


The table as a contemporary archive, in both physical and augmented reality

Brian Lilley, Faculty of Architecture
Derek Reilly, Faculty of Computer Science

Presentation: Brian Lilley’s presentation will explore the Psychogeographer’s Table Project, part of the Dal Art Gallery’s Halifax Explosion exhibit, which features a number of projections to accompany contemporary artifacts. Derek Reilly will discuss the relationship of the interface design and content decisions made to the theme of the work.

Bio: Brian Lilley is an associate professor with Dal’s Faculty of Architecture. His research focuses on ecological, programmatic, and artistic strategies influencing design. His built projects advocate health and well-being of communities through capacity-building. He is a founding member of the Narratives in Space and Time Society, along with Robert Bean, Barbara Lounder, and M.E. Luka.

Derek Reilly is an assistant professor in the Faculty of Computer Science at Dalhousie University, and director of the Graphics and Experiential Media Lab. His research considers the role physical space plays in human-computer interaction. 


Social work and social conflict after the Halifax Explosion

Michelle Hebert Boyd, Dal Social Work Alum

Presentation: Michelle Hebert Boyd’s presentation will explore how the profession of social work developed as a result of the Halifax Explosion.

Bio: Michelle Hebert Boyd is Executive Director of Eating Disorders Nova Scotia. She has worked across Canada as a social worker, journalist, and political advisor. She holds an MSW with a concentration in community development, and has been part of ambitious movements to change the way health and social services are planned and delivered. 


The ESS response, 100 years ago

Ismael Aquino, Health Administration lecturer, Faculty of Health

Presentation: Ismael Aquino’s presentation will explore the development of emergency social services in the aftermath of the Halifax Explosion.

Bio: Ismael Aquino is a lecturer with Dal Health’s School of Health Administration. He is also the former Nova Scotia Provincial Director and former Atlantic Regional Director (Education) for the Canadian Red Cross. His specialties include program management in the areas of disaster management, community health, and volunteer resources.


How the Halifax Explosion changed the career direction of nurses and nursing practice

Gloria Stephens, Registered Nurse

Presentation: Gloria Stephens’ presentation will cover the impact of the Halifax Explosion on the professionalization of the field of nursing.

Bio: Gloria Stephens is a retired Registered Nurse, now concentrating on nursing history stories. She is the founder and president of Nursing History NS, the Association of Health Sciences Archives and Museum of NS (AHSAMNS) and a member of the Canadian Association for the History of Nursing (CAHN).  


Pharmacists and the Halifax Explosion

Mary MacCara, College of Pharmacy, Faculty of Health

Presentation: Mary MacCara will describe the care pharmacists provided and some of the unexpected roles pharmacists played following the Halifax Explosion.

Bio: Mary MacCara is a pharmacist who recently retired from a 34-year career as a faculty member at the Dalhousie College of Pharmacy. Mary developed a passion for pharmacy history while researching the College of Pharmacy’s history for its centennial in 2011. Her interest in the Halifax Explosion began while growing up in rural Nova Scotia and hearing family members tell stories of the horrific event. Mary’s research on pharmacists and their roles in the relief efforts following the Explosion was published this month as a book: Dispensing Aid: Druggists and the Halifax Explosion.


Whose explosion is it anyway?

Dr. Martha Radice, Sociology & Social Anthropology, Faculty of Arts & Social Sciences

Presentation: Martha Radice’s presentation will explore the stories of the Explosion that circulate in the city today, who tells them and how they are shared.

Bio: Martha Radice is a social anthropologist whose work focuses on the social, spatial and cultural dynamics of cities. She is speaking about the Halifax explosion because she is especially interested in the stories of belonging that circulate in cities – whether they are hidden in the signs decorating a storefront, performed in a parade or a festival, or passed on from one city-dweller to another. Her research has mainly been on Canadian cities, but she is now studying carnival in New Orleans. She is Associate Professor in the Department of Sociology and Social Anthropology.




Dalhousie Arts Centre, 6101 University Avenue, Halifax


Free and open to the public

Additional Information

This venue is wheelchair accessible


Kathy MacFarlane, Faculty of Health

Genevieve MacIntyre, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences

Wes Johnston , Dalhousie Art Gallery