A walk back in time: Researchers launch new Halifax Explosion app

A new interactive app is changing the way people learn about the Halifax Explosion.
A new interactive app is changing the way people learn about the Halifax Explosion. Alexa MacLean

A Halifax-based research group is launching a new app that is changing the way people learn and explore aspects of the Halifax Explosion.

The Narratives in Space+Time Society partnered with local tech company MindSea to create “Drifts” — an interactive user experience that allows people to explore points of interest related to the 1917 disaster.

“We’ve come up with a list of nine major walks that we think will be interesting to the world at large,” said Brian Lilley, an architecture professor at Dalhousie University.

“Essentially, what it does is it combines the stories, the personal experiences and the individual performances, pieces of artwork into really a collective experience.”

READ MORE: Hope amid the rubble: How the disastrous Halifax Explosion sparked reform

Over the past four years, the group has been collecting stories, photos and works of art that can now be discovered simply by using a smartphone to follow along with various routes or “Drifts.”

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Users can also leave comments and record videos, creating a sense of community and sparking important conversations that transcend time.

“There’s some real issues and debates that have come forward as well, not just with some of the details of the explosion like where it happened or whose fault it was,” said Mary Elizabeth Luka, a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Alberta and faculty at the Dalhousie School of Management.

“We’ve ended up with neighbourhoods that are perhaps more segregated than we’d wish them to be that are a direct consequence of the social engineering that happened immediately following the explosion and those are subjects we need to talk about today as much as 100 years ago.

READ MORE: Halifax to install markers commemorating 100th anniversary of Halifax Explosion

The app was made possible with funding from a number of sources including the City of Halifax, the Department of Canadian Heritage and Canada 150. It is available to download for free in the App Store.

The Narratives in Space+Time Society is holding a group walk on Saturday, Oct. 14 at 6 p.m. in Dartmouth as part of the Nocturne: Art at Night events.