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Local Reaction to the Halifax Disaster – 1917

by Barbara Rimkunas

This "Historically Speaking" column was published in the Exeter News-Letter on Friday, December 8, 2017.

In early December of 1917, Exeter’s residents were readying themselves for Christmas under war restrictions. There hadn’t been many changes – just a few limits on sugar – but concerns about fuel during the upcoming winter weighed heavily on people’s minds. Still, the holiday spirit had taken hold. The shops were advertising gifts even though the general mood was one of economizing and practicality. Clothing sales were still strong, as were useful gifts such as umbrellas, stationary and handkerchiefs. The Red Cross was working hard to enroll members and raise funds for their efforts in the war. Most people did their marketing on Thursday – an old tradition that still held sway in town.

On Thursday, December 6th, news began to trickle into town that something catastrophic had happened in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Sketchy details at first of a possible explos…

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