Harbour pilots fulfil important function in guiding ships in and out of harbours all over the world.
Many lives depend on their knowledge of the waters, their skills and judgement. Occasionally, thankfully seldom, thing go wrong, sometimes very wrong and people die.
One such incident happened December 6, 1917 when Francis Mackay was guiding Mont Blanc, a French munitions ship, into Bedford Basin to join a convoy across the Atlantic, when it was rammed by Belgian Relief vessel Imo.
The massive explosion destroyed Halifax’s north end and killed at least 2000 people, including the pilot of Imo. Pilot Mackay was charged with manslaughter, was imprisoned, villainized by the media, and denied his licence even after the charges were dropped.
The author Janet Maybee successfully tells Mackay’s story after in-depth research at the maritime Museum of the Atlantic.
The book contains many archival pictures, the writing flows well, and above all; it informs the reader about facts that both provincial and federal bureaucrats conveniently overlooked.
Highly interesting informative and recommended.