The Deposition of Harbour Pilot Francis Mackey

A site-specific, verbatim theatre performance

Part of the HRM’s Halifax Explosion 100th Anniversary Commemorations


In the room where it happened

On the days it took place

With the words that were spoken

100 years ago


December 16th and 17th 2017 – 2:00pm and 7:30pm

The Halifax Provincial Court – 5250 Spring Garden Rd.


On December 6, 1917, in the narrows of Halifax Harbour, the Belgian Relief vessel IMO collided with an overloaded French munitions ship, Mont-Blanc. The resulting massive explosion wreaked havoc on both sides of the harbour and left at least 2000 people dead. Within hours Ottawa ordered a full investigation. Despite chaos in the city the Wreck Commissioner’s Inquiry began the following week at the Halifax Provincial Court on Spring Garden Road.

Using excerpts from the inquiry’s transcripts, At This Hour offers a personal account of what happened that terrible morning through the words of Francis Mackey, the pilot on board Mont-Blanc. The charged exchanges between Pilot Mackey and the lawyer representing the owners of IMO, Charles Burchell, reveal how a supposed search for truth became the pursuit of a convenient scapegoat.

Who was to blame? A century later, this question is still unanswered.

Janet Maybee’s book Aftershock – The Halifax Explosion and the Persecution of Pilot Francis Mackey, inspired the creation of At This Hour.


Weldon McInnis
Armbrae Academy
Andy Fillmore
City of Halifax
The Canada Council for the Arts
Arts Nova Scotia
Halifax Explosion 100