Pier 21 and the Maritime museum
Halifax Travel Blog› entry 16 of 96 › view all entries
After two days on the trot getting sun burnt, I decided to do something indoors. I headed back into Halifax to see Pier 21. This is an old wharf building that has been used for the best part of the last century as an immigration checkpoint. It has bags of history covering the influx of migrant workers to incomming Evacuees and outgoing soldiers during the second wrold war. The layout is a little confusing at first as it isn’t designed in the traditional ‘lead you down the garden path’ style of museum. Its basically a huge room full of stuff, and you pick your own way through. Mine took me to the darkness of the janitor’s closet. After a brief struggle with my pen torch and the guide book, I was back on track.
I foolishly ate the remains of yesterday’s beef sandwich for lunch, and then pressed on to the Maritime museum. They had an exhibition on ‘TITANIC’ and the tour was just starting, so I joined the back. Ages ago I had been to the maritime museum in Waterford (or was it Wexford? Note to researcher: find out which it was so I don’t look like a silly prat by putting the wrong place name in my blog). In Ireland. They had a huge exhibit from the perspective of the other ‘End’ of the titanic story, how the ship was constructed and the events that transpired to lead it to its resting place. Halifax has a much more macabre association with the disaster, as this is where alot of the victims who’s remains were retreived from the water are buried.
I also found out about the Halifax Explosion.
A French ship, the Mont Blanc, loaded with 2500 tonnes of explosives collided with another ship, the Imo, close to the staging area (where troops and supplies are loaded). It is thought that this collision led to chemicals such as Benzol, which is highly explosive, leaking from it's containers. The crew certainly believed themselves to be in a position of great danger as they abandoned ship almost immediately after the Mont Blanc had collided with the Imo. Unmanned the Mont Blanc floated slowly towards the pier, where a group of bystanders gathered to watch the ship: not realising that it was unmanned and leaking explosives.
Upon hitting the pier the explosives on board the Mont Blanc ignited and there was a tremendous explosion as the ships cargo exploded. The blast killed over 1500 people instantly, with at least another 500 dying from wounds inflicted by the disaster. 2 square miles of land near the Halifax port were flattened and many civilians suffered from burns, blindness and other ailments as a result of the explosion.
Yikes. Then I heard they got a massive snow storm the next day.
I got heaps of pictures, and saw tonnes of cool artifacts. It had started to rain when I left the museum, so I ducked into a cafe and wrote postcards. The weather is turning bad here for the next few days, so I might have to go whale watching elsewhere on a later date.