Nova Scotia Archives

1917 Halifax Explosion

Personal Narrative given by H.M. Rosenberg, Dartmouth to Archibald MacMechan

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Henry Mordecai Rosenberg (1858-1947) was born in New Brunswick, New Jersey; commenced art training in Chicago; and travelled with fellow art students to Europe where he studied. After his return to the United States, he worked in Chicago and later in New York where he met Ernest Lawson, a fellow artist and a Haligonian by birth. Rosenberg became a member of the Salmagundi Club (a New York art club) where he met James E. Roy of Halifax and a distinguished patron of the arts. Roy persuaded Rosenberg to move to Nova Scotia which he did in 1897. He settled in Dartmouth but also had a studio in Halifax, crossing the harbour twice daily by ferry. Rosenberg became Principal of the Victoria School of Art and Design in 1898, a position he held until 1910. He was a founder of the Nova Scotia Museum of Fine Art in 1910 (now the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia) and was a founding member of the Nova Scotia Society of Artists in 1922.

H.M. Rosenberg was on the 9:00 a.m. ferry to Halifax the morning of the Halifax Explosion and related his experience to MacMechan. Rosenberg witnessed four separate explosions flames and was interested in the artistic effect. He made gestures in the air with his hand and waggled his fingers.

Rosenberg spend the last thirteen years of his life in Citronelle, Alabama, where he died on Christmas Eve in 1947.

Reference: Archibald MacMechan Nova Scotia Archives MG 1 vol. 2124 no. 46g -46h

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