Only one year and 20 days after its establishment as a town, the City of Halifax was almost completely destroyed by a fire 265 years ago today. Everyone remembers the great Halifax Explosion of 1917 when the SS Mont-Blanc, a French cargo ship loaded with explosives, collided with the SS Imo, a Norwegian vessel, caught fire, and burst in a cataclysmic explosion that devastated the Richmond District, killed 2,000, and injured another 9,000. But this wasn’t the first time Halifax was nearly destroyed by fire.
The first time was on July 11, 1750 when Halifax recorded the first fire of major proportion in Canada which almost wiped out the entire town. (Sources: Halifax.ca, FireHouse and Wikipedia) That’s probably why published fire regulations in Halifax date back to September 29, 1752 and
the Halifax Regional Fire and Emergency Service dates all the way back to 1754 and why Nova Scotia lays claim to a host of first in Canadian firefighting, including:
- the first hand-propelled fire engine
- the first steam-propelled fire engine
- the first motorized pumper
And Halifax came close to being destroyed again in 1786 when a great fire raged in the woods on the outskirt of the city, a fire so great that the town was so enveloped in smoke for many days, as almost to impede business. (Source: History of Halifax City)
In other words, despite the fact that fate apparently wants to burn Halifax to the ground, we Haligonians are tough stock.