Halifax/Dartmouth Explosion Series

In the 1980s & 90s, the Dartmouth Heritage Society conducted a series of interviews with Dartmouthians who survived the 1917 Halifax Explosion. The listening gallery below features a selection of excerpts from those interviews.

Content warning: Many of the following audio clips contain descriptions of graphic injuries.


 

Leighton Dillman Interview

Year – 1981

Interview conducted by – Janet Kitz

Leighton Dillman, namesake of Dartmouth’s Leighton Dillman Park, was approximately 20 years old at the time of the explosion. He was working at the Consumer Cordage Rope Company when the blast occurred.

Dartmouth Heritage Museum · Halifax/Dartmouth Explosion Series: Leighton Dillman Interview

 

CJCH 1978 Radio Broadcast

This excerpt from a 1978 radio broadcast by CJCH FM Halifax features a short recreation of the events of the radio station on the morning of the Halifax Explosion.

Dartmouth Heritage Museum · Halifax/Dartmouth Explosion Series: CJCH 1978 Radio Broadcast

 

Ethel Morash Interview

Year – 1989

Interview conducted by – Janet Kitz

Ethel Morash was at home in Dartmouth at the time of the explosion. In the first clip, she recalls the event itself as well as the strange circumstances she was discovered in after the blast. In the second clip, she shares some of her memories of the public’s reaction to the event on the day and in the days proceeding.

Dartmouth Heritage Museum · Halifax/Dartmouth Explosion Series: Ethel Morash Interview (1)

Dartmouth Heritage Museum · Halifax/Dartmouth Explosion Series: Ethel Morash Interview (2)

 

Mabel Ardley Interview

Year – 1992

Interview conducted by – Lois Richards

Mabel Ardley was only 8 years old at the time of the explosion. She was at school at Greenvale School on Ochterloney St. when the blast occurred.

Dartmouth Heritage Museum · Halifax/Dartmouth Explosion Series: Mabel Ardley Interview

 

Mr. and Mrs. Robinson Interview

Year – 1991

Interview conducted by – Lois Richards

This clip features Mr. Robinson’s memory of the explosion. He was home at the time of the blast but his sister was struck by debris and hurt on her walk to school. He also believes his dog had a premonition of the event.

Dartmouth Heritage Museum · Halifax/Dartmouth Explosion Series: Mr. and Mrs. Robinson Interview

 

Campbell Sisters Interview

Year – 1992

Interview conducted by – Lois Richards

Frances Mary (Mollie) Campbell and Margaret Isobell Campbell (both nee Kuhn) of Dartmouth recount their memories of the day of the explosion, sometimes disagreeing on the order of events. The two sisters were at school at the Halifax County Academy at the time of the explosion, and when they returned home, they learned their landlady had been killed.

Dartmouth Heritage Museum · Halifax/Dartmouth Explosion Series – Campbell Sisters Interview

 

Mollie Forbes Interview

Year – 1991

Interview conducted by – Lois Richards

Mollie Forbes was returning from a wedding in the Annapolis Valley by train when the explosion occurred. She remembers the devastation in Halifax, as well as the heroic efforts of the local doctors and townspeople.

Dartmouth Heritage Museum · Halifax/Dartmouth Explosion Series: Mollie Forbes Interview

 

Verna Gentles Interview

Year – 1990

Interview conducted by – Lois Richards

Verna Gentles was on the ferry at the time of the explosion. She was injured in the blast and was given medical attention from an officer and a nurse at a house on Victoria Road in Halifax.

Content warning: This interview contains the use of outdated and racist terminology common for the time period. The interview is presented unedited and in its original form, as doing otherwise would be akin to erasing such racism from the historical record.

Dartmouth Heritage Museum · Halifax/Dartmouth Explosion Series: Verna Gentles Interview