In the summer of 1916, work began on Imperial Oil's trans-shipment terminal, on the eastern shore of Halifax Harbour. Two storage tanks, a marine dock and a rail siding that could accommodate 40 tank cars were built. Mexican crude would arrive, be transferred to rail tank cars and shipped to Montreal for refining.

Morris Lake from Kiwanis Park
But the 400 acre property Imperial bought was an ideal industrial location.  It was just outside of Dartmouth, had 3,500 feet of marine frontage and access to fresh water at Morris Lake.
Kiwanis Park, Morris Lake
In addition, there was an established work force and a convenient wharf which could be used to ferry workers from Halifax. Because of the ever increasing demand for petroleum products during the war, the executives decided that Imperoyal would be an ideal location for a refinery. In the fall of 1916, even before the shipment terminal was finished, work began on the refinery, capable of producing 10,000 barrels a day.
Information taken from the Imperial Oil publication "Dartmouth Refinery 1918-2013"
(A)

May 26, 1917. These were temporary buildings, used to house construction workers building the Dartmouth Imperial Oil Refinery.
Aerial photo taken on May 26, 1917. These were temporary buildings, used to house construction workers building Imperial Oil's Imperoyal Refinery in Dartmouth.

From 1919 to 1920 the end of bunkhouse (A) would be turned into Imperoyal's first two-room school house. The school's first teacher, Miss V. E. Lowndes, had 96 pupils. Unfortunately Miss Lowndes had to resign after becoming one of millions falling victim to the Spanish flu, a deadly virus which spread around the world.


Original Imperoyal two-room school, 1919 to 1920
Temporary housing for construction workers building the Dartmouth Imperial Oil refinery.  June 16, 1917
Temporary housing for construction workers building Imperial Oil's Imperoyal Refinery in Dartmouth. Aerial photo taken on June 16, 1917



Temporary housing for construction workers building the Imperial Oil refinery in Dartmouth,  July to August 1917
Temporary housing for construction workers building Imperial Oil's Imperoyal Refinery in Dartmouth,  July to August 1917
rogress on the tank field  July to August 1917, Dartmouth Imperial Oil Refinery
Progress on the tank field  July to August 1917, Imperial Oil's Imperoyal Refinery in Dartmouth.
Temporary housing for construction workers building the Imperial Oil refinery in Dartmouth,  July to August 1917
Temporary housing for construction workers building Imperial Oil's Imperoyal Refinery in Dartmouth,  July to August 1917
rogress on the tank field  July to August 1917, Dartmouth Imperial Oil Refinery
Progress on the tank field  July to August 1917, Imperial Oil's Imperoyal Refinery in Dartmouth.
On December 6, 1917 the Norwegian vessel SS Imo was leaving Bedford Basin, Halifax en route to New York to pick up relief supplies for the beleaguered population of war-torn Belgium. The incoming French munitions ship SS Mont-Blanc - filled with tons of benzol, picric acid, TNT and gun cotton - was just arriving to join an Atlantic convoy assembling in Bedford Basin. After a number of miscommunications, the two ships collided in the Narrows, just outside of Bedford Basin.
he Norwegian steamship SS Imo aground on the Dartmouth shore, after the Halifax Explosion, photographed December 31, 1917.
The Norwegian steamship SS Imo aground on the Dartmouth shore, after the Halifax Explosion, photographed December 31, 1917.
Area effected by the Halifax Explosion December 6,1917
Twenty minutes later the SS Mont Blanc exploded, releasing the equivalent energy of roughly 2.9 kilotons of TNT. The result was the largest human-made explosion prior to the detonation of the first atomic bombs in 1945. The north end of Halifax, then known as Richmond, was totally levelled, either by the blast, the subsequent tsunami that washed over the neighbourhood, or the raging fire caused when structures collapsed inward on lanterns, stoves and furnaces.
information taken from the Canadian Encyclopedia - Halifax Explosion
Nova Scotia Archives Halifax Breweries Limited at Turtle Grove, Dartmouth
Ruins of Army & Navy Brewery operated by Halifax Breweries Limited at Turtle Grove, Dartmouth
Conrod G. Oland, manager, and eleven employees were killed in the explosion.
Across the harbour, Dartmouth suffered devastation to a lesser degree, since the north end was sparsely populated. However, the Mi’kmaq settlement of Turtle Grove, (Tuft’s Cove) was completely destroyed and the survivors were moved to Millbrook Truro.

(To this day the land stands idle, next door to the military community of Shannon Park, scheduled to be demolished. Canada Land, the owners of Shannon Park and Millbrook band are in negotiation over development of the area.)

Nova Scotia Archives NSM 7376 Tufts Cove School, Tufts Cove, Dartmouth
Tufts Cove School, at northeast corner of Albro Lake Road and Windmill Road, Tufts Cove, Dartmouth
The corner of Albro Lake and Windmill Roads Dartmouth
Present Day - the corner of Albro Lake and Windmill Roads, Dartmouth
Three miles away, Imperial Oil's Imperoyal Refinery was still three months away from completion. The site itself was not damaged but workers were thrown off their feet. Immediately after the explosion, Imperial Oil work crews, along with supplies and tools, were sent to the north end of Dartmouth. They helped repair damaged homes and assisted with the construction of temporary shelters for the 20,000 people left homeless.

In addition, the construction workers housed, nursed and cared for 160 people (including 50 children) made homeless by the explosion. Given the season, a collection, taken up by the work crews, insured that all the temporary guests received a gift at Christmas. They stayed at the camp until early in the new year, when the city was ready to provide sufficient housing for the homeless.
information taken from the Imperial Oil publication "Dartmouth Refinery 1918-2013"