Halifax at War

Searchlights, Squadrons and Submarines 1939-1945

by William D. Naftel

A history of Halifax's extraordinary role in the Second World War.

From early September, 1939 Halifax was at war. When the war began, people gathered along the waterfront to watch the fleet of the Royal Canadian Navy leave. For the next six years, the city was uniquely affected by the war's events. Halifax at War explores this transformation of the city and civilian life, making use of a rich blend of historical, biographical and archival sources.

Bill Naftel describes the incredible demands placed upon the city due to the war -- which far exceeded any other city in Canada. Halifax's infrastructure was barely able to cope as thousands of soldiers and sailors streamed through the city and thousands more arrived for war-related work. At first the war was welcomed for the jobs it created and the prosperity it brought, but soon crowding and inflated rices proved a trial for native Haligonians as well as thousands of temporary residents.

Reflecting new insights derived from primary documents, this lively history offers a new perspective on the impact of the war on Canada and Canadians, and on the many ways in which Halifax played a unique role in supporting Canada's contribution to the allied war effort.

About the Author

WILLIAM D. NAFTEL was a historian and regional manager with Parks Canada for thirty years, in Ottawa and Nova Scotia. He is the author of Halifax at War, winner of the "Dartmouth Book Award" for non-fiction and the "Democracy 250 Atlantic Book Award for Historical Writing". He lives in Halifax.


"The author chooses a rich variety of sources to illustrate a compact visual of Canada's war effort, placed in a depression felt like no other place in Canada...Naftel very clearly illuminates the good, bad, and ugly of this recent time in the city's history; it's consequences, and lessons learned. Halifax at War is an important addition to the body of historical growth in our landscape."
Paul Robinson, Chair of the Dartmouth Book Awards


Dartmouth Book Award (Non-Fiction)
Democracy 250 Atlantic Book Award for Historical Writing
Evelyn Richardson Prize for Non-Fiction

Subjects (BISAC)


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