Join author Joel Zemel on tues. Dec 2 as he presents his lecture entitled “The Aftermath of the Halifax Explosion” at Halifax’s Maritime Museum. Based on his award winning book
Following the horrific 1917 Halifax Explosion, the result of a collision between S. S. Mont Blanc and S. S. Imo, the federal government of Canada put forth what appeared to be a concerted effort to initiate an investigation into its causes. However, Ottawa’s primary goal was to assume control over the dysfunctional port as it had done in other major Canadian cities.
In the aftermath of the disaster, a state of panic, paranoia and anger arose in the city. A litany of baseless, sensationalistic stories appeared in the Halifax Herald claiming German spies and saboteurs as the culprits.
Once the Wreck Commissioner’s Inquiry began, these were replaced by a series of almost daily doses of derisive articles against the RCN and the Halifax Pilotage for alleged harbour mismanagement. Within a very short time, the drive to find the person or persons to blame for the unthinkable had reached a fever pitch.
During the course of the Inquiry, three men were singled out for possible indictment on the criminal charge of manslaughter: Captain Aimé Le Médec and Pilot Francis Mackey of Mont Blanc, the ship that carried the deadly cargo of explosives, and the Navy’s chief examining officer of the port, Commander F. Evan Wyatt.
Zemel will discuss his book, Scapegoat: the extraordinary proceedings following the 1917 Halifax Explosion. The presentation will include commentary on the day of the explosion, the Inquiry and subsequent legal proceedings. Scapegoat was the winner of the 2014 Dartmouth Book Award for Non-Fiction.