"Committed as near neighbors": The Halifax explosion and border-crossing people and ideas

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Popular accounts of the Halifax Explosion of 1917 have placed it in a resolutely nationalist context. But starting from the international ownerships and destinations of the ships that sparked it, the explosion was a transnational event. This article explores how people, money, and ideas crossed and recrossed the border. First, in-kind and monetary relief flowed quickly from the United States, Britain, and Newfoundland. Second, Halifax became a destination for a growing international community of experts in disaster response, as relief experts from New York, Boston, Winnipeg, and elsewhere in North America converged on the city. Finally, survivors used their transnational community of friends and relatives to build political power over the relief process. Migrants living in "the Boston States" created a transnational polity that pressured relief authorities to give more money to their kin still in Halifax. These transnational communities - of international experts and migrant families - helped create a Canada-US relationship from the bottom.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)26-43
Number of pages18
JournalAmerican Review of Canadian Studies
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2 2015


  • Diaspora
  • Disasters
  • Halifax
  • Halifax Explosion of 1917
  • Migration
  • Nova Scotia
  • Relief
  • Transnational communities

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Earth-Surface Processes


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