town clockHalifax at War
• What effect did World War I have on Halifax?
  In December, 1917, Canada was at war. As a member of the British Commonwealth, Canada's participation in World War I began with Britain's declaration of war on Germany, August 4,1914. Canada had already suffered tens of thousands of casualties, these included soldiers from Halifax and Dartmouth. Although recent developments encouraged Canadians that an end to the war now seemed a distant possibility, the war effort must continue.
Ships in the harbour.
Looking west across the harbour from Halifax, naval, passenger and cargo ships.

  Three thousand miles of Atlantic Ocean stood between Halifax and the war in Europe. While the distance offered some protection for the cities, the threat of German submarines striking ships in the harbour, or as they crossed the Atlantic was real. Canada's navy was small. In times of war it was agreed the British Navy would again make Halifax its base of operations. Troops were posted at all fortifications in and around the city - McNabs Island, York Redoubt, Wellington Barricks, the Armouries. A blackout system was enforced to prevent submarines from using the lights of the city for navigation. Two submarine nets were stretched across the mouth of the harbour at night.

Submarine nets
The submarine nets hung from steel floats to the harbour bottom.

  Halifax was busy around the clock.The railyards saw steady traffic, trains loaded with troops and supplies arrived daily. The harbour was crowded with ships - ships under repair, ships preparing for the voyage to Europe. Passenger ships loaded troops, cargo ships loaded armaments and war supplies, including food and munitions, hospital ships added staff, medical supplies, and fuel. Bedford Basin was a natural refuge for the convoys consisting of neutral ships and military vessels waiting to be escorted across the Atlantic under the protection of heavily armed battleships.

  In Halifax and Dartmouth, businesses, labourers, churches, and volunteer organizations rallied support for the war effort.The war was ever-present in the minds of the people of Halifax and Dartmouth.

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