The Story of the
THE STORY OF THE 1917 HALIFAX EXPLOSION AND THE BOSTON TREE
Print and eBook Available here:
Audio Documentary Available Here!
At 9:06 in the morning of December 6, 1917 in the City of Halifax, Nova Scotia two ships collided. Minutes later there was an apocalyptic explosion followed by a blizzard of flying glass, splintered wood and white hot metal falling from the sky. In an instant almost 2,000 people lay dead and another 9,000 wounded and thousands left homeless.
This is the story of unprecedented compassion, mercy, and heroism. It speaks of the eternal friendship and helping hands across the border between the State of Massachusetts and the people of Nova Scotia.
This set in motion the greatest rescue mission ever known at the time between the United States and Canada. Within hours, without authority or hesitation the City of Boston and the State of Massachusetts pulled together all their medical resources and went to the aid of Halifax.
This humanitarian rescue mission was never forgotten. Every year a special thank you gift is sent to Boston from the people of Nova Scotia. This gift symbolizes peace on earth, hope and light in the darkness..... a giant fifty foot Christmas tree!
“To give a sense of realism to the story, Suzanne might have used old photographs, but it is the power of art to deliver a deeper reality. Suzanne’s choice of art has the simplicity of a children’s book and almost miraculously in the midst of dark disaster manages to deliver hope. This simple tale of the harrowing 1917 Halifax Explosion celebrating the wonderful resilience between two long term neighbours , the United States and Canada is movingly delivered.”
-Dr. Peter Taylor PhD
Dept. Head Mathematics, Queen’s University, Canada
“This is a very special story that describes the events of the devastating Halifax Explosion wrapped within heroism, compassion, kind-heartedness that followed. It deeply touches my heart because I am honoured and feel privileged to be a direct descendent of Abraham Ratshesky.
Suzanne has done a beautiful job of crafting this compelling 100 year old lore for young people and families alike. I am thrilled that it can now be shared with all and that human compassion and gratitude remains the ultimate theme in Halifax and in Boston every year.”
President A. C. Ratshesky Foundation
"Suzanne Pasternak shares heart-wrenching and heartwarming international tale of Halifax explosion and Nova Scotians’ grateful gift to their neighbours."
"“I really enjoyed reading the book! The first couple of pages were really interesting and a great cliff hanger to intrigue readers. It’s not like some boring text book and so students in middle school and high school would actually enjoy reading it!”"
Student and Artist, Kingston Ontario
"Both young and adult readers alike will get a clear understanding of the destruction of the city and Ratshesky, who handled the aftermath with grace, compassion, and courage. Suzanne Pasternak and illustrator Hayden Maynard bring
this story back to life, not to expound upon the misery of that day and the weeks that followed, but to illuminate humanity’s capacity for kindness and resilience. The tree, which represents the long-lasting friendship between
Canada and the U.S., is an annual reminder of how in our darkest hours, our countries stand together."
Jewish Heritage Center at the New England Historic Genealogical Society
“The Evidence is clear that in the direst of circumstances humans go to the assistance of others. That is the story told here. This is a story of heroism and gratitude in the context of the largest man made explosion in human history
before World War 2. This was an explosion that reduced a good portion of the city of Halifax to rubble and killed or injured thousands of its citizens.
Suzanne Pasternak has written a compelling and compassionate story about the Halifax explosion of 1917 and the long tradition of gratitude it set in motion. It is important that in these times to be reminded that humanity embodies rich reservoirs of goodness and kindness and the spirit to do the right thing. Read it aloud, and read it again and share it widely. It is a story for all ages.”
-Craig Jones, PhD