Sailors, Slackers, and Blind Pigs

Halifax at War

Publisher: Anchor Canada
The untold story of how war transformed the city of Halifax.

Stephen Kimber recreates life in Halifax during the Second World War, a city transformed by the influx of military and civilian personnel serving the war effort. Poorly governed and corrupt, the city erupted at the end of the war in Europe in the infamous V-E Day riots of May 1945.

Halifax was the only Canadian city directly caught up in the drama, danger, death, and disaster of our last “good” war. Through the eyes and experiences of the people who lived it -- sailors, slackers (civilians), prohibitionists, spies, profiteers, and just plain local folk -- Stephen Kimber brings this extraordinary period of history to life. From an initial outpouring of imperial patriotism and local paternalism to the final Bacchanalian orgy of booze, looting, dancing in the streets, public fornication and general mayhem, this is the true, untold story of how a city changed a war, and a war changed a city.

Drawing on primary sources ranging from local government and military archives to personal diaries, Kimber recreates life in Halifax during the Second World War so convincingly that readers will feel that they have journeyed back in time to meet some of the most colourful characters ever encountered in a history book.

From the Hardcover edition.


Chapter One: 1939

– Preparations, Expectations and the Phony War –

Eric Dennis stared hard at the dozens of men and women streaming off tonight’s Ocean Limited passenger train just arrived from Montreal, searching the platform for familiar faces, faces to which he could put...
Read More


“Kimber has done a terrific job blending archival research with personal accounts of servicemen and locals . . . the book is a lively and engaging portrait of Halifax in flux.” -- Ottawa Citizen

“A rich smorgasbord of memories . . . fast-moving. . . . Everyone who loves Halifax as the vibrant place it has become must read Kimber’s book.” -- The Daily News (Halifax)

“Kimber brings an insider’s knowledge and storyteller’s eye for detail. The book is a panorama of the wartime city that unfolds from portraits . . . Kimber sweeps away the cobwebs.” -- Canadian Geographic