Mr. Speaker, 105 years ago today, two ships collided in the narrows of Halifax Harbour. The collision between the French munitions ship, the Mont-Blanc, and the Norwegian ship, the Imo, resulted in the largest human-made explosion at that time. There were 1,782 people killed and an estimated 9,000 injured. Relief efforts came from across Canada and the northeastern United States. To make matters worse, these heroic rescue efforts were also hampered by a snowstorm.
The community of Richmond was devastated, as was the long-standing Mi’kmaq community of Turtle Grove. Lives of countless Haligonians were changed forever. Railway dispatcher Vince Coleman's heroic effort to stop incoming trains stands out. I quote, “Hold up the train. Ammunition ship afire in harbor making for Pier 6 and will explode. Guess this will be my last message. Good-bye boys.” He died at his post.
To this day, we send an annual Christmas tree to Boston as a token of our appreciation in our rebuilding efforts.