When it happened in 1917, The Halifax explosion was the largest and most devastating man-made explosion that the world had experienced. It would not be surpassed until the atom bomb was dropped on Hiroshima 28 years later. The scientists who developed the atom bomb were able to use the data on the affects of the explosion on the structure and population of Halifax in their planning. Unlike the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagaski, the Halifax explosion seems to have dropped from public memory, news of its losses quickly supplanted in newspaper headlines as the First World War entered into its dying days; its final months.
In 1918, the world was busy counting its dead from the theatres of war and then from the Spanish Flu which hit the already distressed citizens trying to get back to normal life. The citizens of Halifax had started on their shaky recovery before the rest. When the 1918 count of the losses from the explosion was done there were 1611 known dead and missing. Present day figures put this amount at about 2000 souls. Many more were injured. Estimates put the amount of injured at about 6000, many of whom were blinded by flying glass. There was an immediate need for shelter as approximately 9000 people were homeless. Tents were pitched on the common but the day after the explosion saw a blizzard which blanketed the ruined city in white. Restoration of the city was needed right away.
Boyd, Michelle Herbert, Enriched by Catastrophe: Social Work and Social Conflict after the Halifax Explosion, Fernwood Publishing, Black Point, Nova Scotia 2007
MacDonald, Laura M., Curse of the Narrows, HarperCollins Publishers Ltd, Toronto, Ontario, 2005