Halifax Explosion Reading List

Halifax, NS  (Photographed by Kate MacKinnon Sunabacka)

On the morning of December 6, 1917, two ships collided in the Halifax Harbour. One was carrying a full load of wartime explosives. The blast that resulted was the largest man-made explosion prior to the development of nuclear weapons. For more information visit The Halifax Explosion website.

Over the last couple of years I’ve developed an interest in readng fictional accounts about the explosion. The highlighted books will link to my thoughts on the book. I’ve also included lists of non-fiction and books for young readers.


Fiction (Read):

Bruneau, Carol – Glass Voices (2007)

Graham, Genevieve – Tides of Honour (2015)

Laffoley, Steven – The Blue Tattoo (2014)

Laffoley, Steven – A Halifax Christmas Carol (2017)

MacLennan, Hugh – Barometer Rising (1941)

McKay, Ami – The Birth House (2006)

Preston, Rachael – The Wind Seller (2006)

Raddall, Thomas – Winter’s Tale: A Short Story (1959)

Tattrie, Jon – Black Snow: A Story of Love and Destruction (2009)

Watt, Alison – Dazzle Patterns (2017)


Fiction (still unread):

Graham, Bruce – Diligent River Daughter (2011)

MacNeil, Robert – Burden of Desire (1992)

Tyson, Sylvia – Joyner’s Dream (2011)


For Younger Readers:

Demont, John and Belle – The Little Tree by the Sea (2017)

Halsey, Jacqueline – Explosion Newsie (2015)

Lawlor, Allison – Broken Pieces: An Orphan of the Halifax Explosion (2018)

Lawson, Julie – No Safe Harbour: The Halifax Explosion Diary of Charlotte Blackburn (2006)

Lawson, Julie – A Blinding Light (2017)

McKay, Sharon E. – Terror in the Harbour: Our Canadian Girl, Penelope #1 (2010)

Payzant, Joan – Who’s a Scaredy-Cat!: A Story of the Halifax Explosion (2005)

Simons, Marijke – The Flying Squirrel Stowaways: From Nova Scotia to Boston (2017)

Wishinsky, Frieda – Canadian Flyer Adventures #17: Halifax Explodes! (2011)


Non-Fiction titles:

Bacon, John U. – The Great Halifax Explosion: A World War I Story of Treachery, Tragedy, and Extraordinary Heroism (2017)

Bird, Michael J. – The Town That Died: A Chronicle of the Halifax Explosion (1962)

Boileau, John – 6/12/17: The Halifax Explosion (2017)

Cuthbertson, Ken – The Halifax Explosion: Canada’s Worst Disaster (2017)

Dupuis, Michael – Bearing Witness: Journalists, Record Keepers and the 1917 Halifax Explosion (2017) – review at The Miramichi Reader

Elliott, Marilyn Davidson – The Blind Mechanic: The Amazing Story of Eric Davidson, Survivor of the 1917 Halifax Explosion (2018)

Flemming, David B. – Explosion in Halifax Harbour: An Illustrated Account of a Disaster That Shook the World (2004)

Ingram, Katie – Breaking Disaster: Newspaper Stories of the Halifax Explosion (2017)

Kitz, Janet – Shattered City: The Halifax Explosion and the Road to Recovery (1989)

MacDonald, Laura – Curse of the Narrows: The Halifax Explosion 1917 (2005)

Maybee, Janet – Aftershock: The Halifax Explosion and the Persecution of Pilot Francis Mackey (2015) – review at The Miramichi Reader

Soucoup, Dan – Explosion in Halifax Harbour, 1917 (2017)


If you have any recommendations, please let me know!

7 thoughts on “Halifax Explosion Reading List

    • Naomi says:

      I won’t necessarily be reading all of these – I just wanted to provide lots of options for readers who might prefer nonfiction, or who might be looking for children’s books. I’ll be mostly focusing on the fiction. (I have also read a couple of the children’s books.)

      Some of the fiction books have the explosion as a side incident, or as something that happened in the past but has shaped the lives of the characters. The nonfiction, as far as I know, is all centered on the explosion, or some aspect of it.

  1. lauratfrey says:

    I’ve just started listening to The Great Halifax Explosion by John Bacon. Just on a whim – it was in my recommended lousy on Hoopla! So far so good, I know very little. It’ll be a good warm up for Dazzle Patterns.

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