Scapegoat: the extraordinary legal proceedings following the 1917 Halifax Explosion

Paperback | April 23, 2014

byJoel ZemelEditorJoel Zemel

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On the morning of 6 December 1917, a French munitions ship, SS Mont Blanc, carrying a full cargo of highly volatile explosives, and a Belgian Relief vessel under Norwegian registry, SS Imo, collided in Halifax Harbour. Twenty minutes later, a catastrophic explosion destroyed the district of Richmond in the North End of the city, causing the loss of over 2,000 lives, countless injuries and millions of dollars in property damage. At first, German spies and saboteurs were assumed to have been the culprits. However, within a few days, Captain Aimé Le Médec and Pilot Francis Mackey of Mont Blanc were under intense scrutiny in the court of public opinion.

The federal government launched an immediate inquiry to investigate the causes of the accident which led to the disaster. However, Ottawa's underlying goal was to assume control over the port and its pilotage system. During the latter part of the proceedings, fingers pointed towards the Royal Canadian Navy for alleged mismanagement of the port. By that time, the drive to find those responsible for the unthinkable had reached a fever pitch. As a result of the inquiry decision, the captain and pilot, along with RCN chief examining officer, Commander F. Evan Wyatt, were singled out for blame. They were arrested and subsequently charged with manslaughter and criminal negligence.

Within the framework of the inquiry transcripts and through the incorporation of additional legal records, official naval documentation, photographs and archived resources, this volume details the circumstances leading up to the day of the collision, fire and explosion. The courtroom then becomes the setting for a close examination of the inquiry itself and the numerous legal proceedings, which followed. Ultimately, the evolution of the concerted efforts to indict a scapegoat in the wake of this unprecedented marine and civil disaster is revealed.

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From the Publisher

On the morning of 6 December 1917, a French munitions ship, SS Mont Blanc, carrying a full cargo of highly volatile explosives, and a Belgian Relief vessel under Norwegian registry, SS Imo, collided in Halifax Harbour. Twenty minutes later, a catastrophic explosion destroyed the district of Richmond in the North End of the city, causin...

Format:PaperbackDimensions:496 pages, 10 × 7 × 1.1 inPublished:April 23, 2014Publisher:NEW WORLD PUBLISHINGLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0968492096

ISBN - 13:9780968492093

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