On December 7, 1917 two war ships collided in the harbor at Halifax, Nova Scotia. Following the collision and subsequent fire, a massive explosion occurred, killing about two thousand people and wounding countless more. At the time, it was the largest man-made explosion in history. With the city devastated, help was needed. Boston is still remembered for responding quickly and sending up a train with supplies and people the following day. They are still celebrated this day with a Christmas tree that is sent from Halifax to Boston each year.
However, Maine also played a role in the relief effort. Mainers joined the Boston relief train and we sent up supplies and a National Guard troop of our own. This talk will discuss the overall history of the event and the relief effort, but will also aim to focus more on Maine’s role in the relief effort.
Our speaker, Sam Howes, is an archivist at the Maine State Archives, where he has been for three years developing exhibits and preserving the State’s historical records. He earned his Bachelor of Arts in History with a mix of American Labor, Canadian History, and Medieval Studies at Acadia University in Nova Scotia. While living in Nova Scotia, he became very interested in the relationship between the Maritime Provinces and the New England States. That interest is what led him to research the Halifax Explosion and the response from New England, and Maine, in particular.
The Kennebec Historical Society December Presentation is co-sponsored by the Maine State Library and free to the public (donations gladly accepted).