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No Safe Harbour: The Halifax Explosion Diary of Charlotte Blackburn is the fifteenth book in the Dear Canada series by Scholastic Canada. It was written by Julie Lawson and was her second in the series after 2002's A Ribbon of Shining Steel. The book was published in January 2006 and later translated into French. It was followed by A Rebel's Daughter.


"For Wendy"

Book description[]

"December 6, 1917
There was no warning. The explosion happened fast, and all at once.
The roar of the flames just stopped. I saw a white flash shoot up from the burning ship and felt a tremendous blast of air, a whirlwind that swept me up and hurled me around until it suddenly gave out and dropped me. I didn't know where I was, only that I'd come close to landing on a picket fence. Bodies were lying everywhere. Nothing moved, no one spoke. And then the screaming began.
I thought it was the end of the world.

"Le 6 décembre 1917
Rien n'a annoncé l'explosion. Elle s'est produite tout d’un coup.
Le rugissement des flammes s’est arrêté. J'ai vu un éclair blanc au-dessus du navire en flammes et j'ai senti un puissant souffle d'air, comme une tornade, qui m'a emportée, puis m’a laissée retomber plus loin, ayant perdu de sa force. Je ne savais pas où je me trouvais, sauf que j'avais failli atterrir sur une clôture en bois. Partout, des corps jonchaient le sol. Rien ne bougeait, personne ne parlait. Puis les cris ont commencé.
J'ai cru que c’était la fin du monde.



Historical Note[]


Main article: List of No Safe Harbour characters


Main article: Julie Lawson



  • Canadian Children's Book Centre, Our Choice (2007) - commended[5]
  • Chocolate Lily Book Award, BC Children's Choice (2008) - short-listed[5]
  • Hackmatack Children's Choice Award, Atlantic Canada (2008) - winner[6]


"I am grateful to Janet Kitz, author of Shattered City and Survivors: Children of the Explosion, for sharing her knowledge and offering valuable comments from the very beginning of this project; for reading an earlier version of my manuscript; for giving me a tour of the once-devastated Richmond area; for introducing me to her exuberant Brittany spaniel, Kirsty; and for sharing the harrowing stories of several children who survived the explosion. One such story is that of fourteen-year-old Barbara Orr, who was blow half a kilometre to Fort Needham but lost her entire immediate family–mother, father, three brothers and two sisters.
Thanks to Janet, I was able to interview Edith Hartnett in 2003. Edith, then ninety-four, was nine years old at the time of the explosion. She not only gave me an account of her experiences on December 6, but also painted a vivid picture of her life in Richmond before and after the disaster. Her recollections inspired such story elements as the milk run, Billy the Pig, and the unfinished velveteen dress (in Edith's case, a coat).
Thanks also to the following: Dr. David Sutherland of Dalhousie University, who read the manuscript with an eye to the Explosion and its aftermath; Dr. Desmond Morton, historian and author of such books as
Marching to Armageddon and When Your Number's Up: The Canadian Soldier in the First World War, who answered my questions about the Canadian Expeditionary Force in the Great War; CWO Ray Coulson CD (Ret'd), Curator of the Nova Scotia Highlander Regimental Museum; Rosemary Barbour, Archivist, and the staff of the Nova Scotia Archives and Records; Dan Conlin and staff of the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic; the exceedingly helpful reference librarians behind the "Ask a Librarian" service at Spring Garden Road Memorial Public Library, Halifax; Barbara Hehner for her careful checking of the manuscript; and an enormous thank you to my all-round wonderful editor, Sandra Bogart Johnston."
"The publisher wishes to thank Garry Shutlak, Senior Reference Archivist, Nova Scotia Archives and Records Management, for checking of images and captions; and Brian Roughton of the Roughton Galleries for his generosity in allowing us to use a detail from Elizabeth Jane Gardner Bouguereau's painting Girl Holding a Basket of Grapes as the cover image."


  • The portrait on the cover is a detail from Elizabeth Jane Gardner's painting A Young Girl Holding a Basket of Grapes. The background is a detail from an 1918 photograph titled Norwegian steamship Imo beached on Dartmouth shore after the explosion.[7][8][9]


See also[]

Dear Canada

Orphan at My Door | A Prairie as Wide as the Sea | With Nothing But Our Courage | Footsteps in the Snow
A Ribbon of Shining Steel | Whispers of War | Alone in an Untamed Land | Brothers Far from Home | An Ocean Apart
A Trail of Broken Dreams | Banished from Our Home | Winter of Peril | Turned Away | The Death of My Country
No Safe Harbour | A Rebel's Daughter | A Season for Miracles | If I Die Before I Wake | Not a Nickel to Spare
Prisoners in the Promised Land | Days of Toil and Tears | Where the River Takes Me | Blood Upon Our Land
A Desperate Road to Freedom | A Christmas to Remember | Exiles from the War | To Stand On My Own
Hoping for Home | That Fatal Night | Torn Apart | A Sea of Sorrows | Pieces of the Past | A Country of Our Own
All Fall Down | Flame and Ashes | A Time for Giving | These Are My Words

External links[]