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Remembering the Great Halifax Explosion of December 6th 1917



On the morning of Dec. 6, 1917, the French munitions ship Mont Blanc was sailing down Halifax Harbour, her foredeck loaded with barrels of highly flammable benzol, and her holds packed with 2900 tonnes of high explosives. The Norwegian Belgian relief ship Imo struck the Mont Blanc at low speed, setting the benzol afire, which, 20 minutes later, caused the entire cargo to explode, killing 2000 people, injuring more than 9000, and flattening much of Halifax.  Nearly all structures within an 800-metre (2,600 ft) radius, including the entire community of Richmond in the north end of Halifax, were obliterated. A pressure wave snapped trees, bent iron rails, demolished buildings, grounded vessels, and scattered fragments of Mont-Blanc for kilometres. Hardly a window in the city proper survived the blast. Across the harbour, in Dartmouth, there was also widespread damage.Heard more than 100 km away, it was the largest man-made explosion before the atomic bomb.

Relief efforts began almost immediately, and hospitals quickly became full. Rescue trains began arriving from across eastern Canada and the north-eastern United States, but were impeded by a blizzard. Construction of temporary shelters to house the many people left homeless began soon after the disaster. The initial judicial inquiry found Mont-Blanc to have been responsible for the disaster, but a later appeal determined that both vessels were to blame. There are several memorials to the victims of the explosion in the North End of Halifax.


Commemorating the Halifax Explosion with CK100VDA

To commemorate the Halifax explosion the Halifax ARC has been issued the special call CK100VDA for the period 2-10 Dec., 2017, the center date of which (6 Dec.) is exactly the centennial of the Halifax Explosion. The 100 is for the centennial and VDA was the radio call of the HMCS Niobe, moored in Halifax Harbour. Surviving the blast, Niobe’s WTO (Wireless Telegraph Operator) George Harris immediately radioed Camperdown government radio station (16 km away), which notified the outside world of the disaster.  After WW1 George was in charge of radio station and Amateur licensing.

This Special Event is to commemorate the tragedy itself, the people performing countless acts of bravery, dedication, and kindness in its aftermath, and the first use of radio to alert the outside world to what had happened.


Check DX Summit during the operating period to see whether and where CK100VDA is active. 


QSL Information 


All QSL requests, both direct and through the bureau will be processed early in 2018 once our card order arrives.

Our complete contact log has been uploaded to Logbook of the World.


All bureau requests for special commemorative QSL cards will be processed through Global QSL.

Anyone wishing a special event QSL card sent direct are asked to provide a self-addressed envelope with either appropriate Canadian postage or $3 USA.

Direct QSL requests should be sent to:

Helen Archibald - VA1YL,

25 Canard St. RR#1

Port Williams, NS   B0P1T0



8511149 Last modified: 2017-12-13 20:24:25, 8393 bytes

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