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No Safe Harbour

No Safe Harbour
The Halifax Explosion Diary of Charlotte Blackburn

By Julie Lawson

ISBN: 978-0-439-96930-7 Hardcover
ISBN: 978-1-4431-2401-0 Ebook
256 pages | Ages 9-12 | 5 3/8" x 7 5/8"

Following the massive Halifax explosion of Dec. 6, 1917, Charlotte writes in her diary of her search through the devastated city to find her twin brother Duncan after the rest of her family — except for her older brother, who is fighting in France in WWI — is killed.

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From Charlotte's diary:

Thursday, December 6

Well it's seven in the morning and here I am, snuggled up in the comforter with the bedroom all to myself and no need to rush. I love winter hours.

The curtains are pulled back and the day is taking shape. There's a light frost on the ground, a haze of grey smoke drifting out of the chimneys and a mist rising off the harbour.

Dad's left for the dry dock. He was whistling as he went and I sang along in my head. "What's the use of worrying, It never was worthwhile, So pack up your troubles in your old kit bag, And smile, smile, smile . . . "

Edith's playing the Chopin waltz. Ruth's in the kitchen talking to Mum, and Duncan's outside getting more wood for the stove. He comes in, slams the door and drops the wood, so now Mum's scolding and Kirsty's barking at the fuss.

"Kirsty, how did you sneak in?" says Mum. "Duncan, put her outside!" More scolding.

"It's cold, Mum! Let her stay in!"

Nope. Poor Kirsty. Out she goes.

Now Edith and Ruth are saying goodbye. Mum the Detective asks Ruth why she's in such a hurry to get to school. Ruth says she has an essay to finish and wants to do it in the classroom where it's quiet.

I can picture her expression, Ruth acting the Diligent Student. Ha ha. Good thing I'm not downstairs. I'd probably start laughing and give away her secret. Well, now things are quiet. Not a sound from Duncan — he must be eating his breakfast. I better get my porridge before he takes all the cream. Then it's time for the milk run and smile, smile, smile!


I'm in a hospital, in a corridor, sitting on the floor.

What happened? How did I get here?

The corridor is jammed with people. Some covered with blood and black grime. Some with faces that don't look like faces. Others rushing around, too busy to answer questions.

Someone is screaming but most of the people are quiet . . . .

People keep going past down the corridor. They're crying, calling out names, looking for friends or relatives.

Where's Dad? Why doesn't he come for me?


Some people are lying on stretchers, not moving. Soldiers are sorting through them, and saying, "This one's for Chebucto." What do they mean? I have to keep writing to stay awake, or else they'll think I'm dead and take me away. Then no one will find me.

From Dear Canada: No Safe Harbour, copyright © 2005 by Julie Lawson.


I have chosen this as my favourite book because it's very descriptive and it's written so realistic. But this isn't the only reason it is my favourite. This is also my favourite because it reminds me of what my great-great grandfather did. He was in the Halifax explosion and he was a firefighter there. His name was Michael Maltus, Chief of the firefighters. And I even did a speech and I won second place. I was born there and I go to the harbour. Everytime I go and I cry because I am maybe standing where he died :( that is the reasons why I love this book the most in the Dear Canada series. Thank you for your time reading this :D but I don't live in Nova Scotia anymore I moved but most of my family live there.
Emma M., Age 11, Quebec, Rating: 10

This was an amazing book! It felt so real, as if Charlotte was right there, telling you the story. I wanted to cry at parts, laugh at parts, and smile at parts. All in all, this book was a real page-turner.
Anna R., Age 9, Alberta, Rating: 9

I love it. It is the best book I've ever read and Julie is so detailed in her writing it makes the book 10 times better.
Katy L., Age 19, Nova Scotia, Rating: 10

Chloe B., Age 10, Ontario, Rating: 10

I have read 3-4 books maybe by now and I love them! No Safe Harbour is so amazing, it has turned into one of my fave books! I keep trying to get my friends to read it and I will keep reading these books! Thank you for these AMAZING BOOKS!!
Yaya S., Age 13, Ontario, Rating: 10

This book made me do some digging of my own on what happened during the Halifax Explosion. It's so sad it tears at your heart. Definitely a good read.
Alyssa H., Age 15, Ontario, Rating: 10

No Safe Harbour is an incredible story of courage, living for the day and finding hope when all seems lost. You find yourself feeling Charlotte's emotions and living in her story, very well written.
Reina F., Age 14, British Columbia, Rating: 10

The explosion was so exciting, I could not put it down!
Grace O., Age 12, Ontario, Rating: 10

Though I've loved all the Dear Canada's since I was in grade three - this is probably the most touching, heart-breaking one of them all. I still cry whenever I read it.
Erin M., Age 17, Ontario, Rating: 10

Very good! VERY suspenseful! The second I began reading this book, I could not stop!!! I wonder if Anne of Green Gables saw this or was too far away.
Mikaela W., Age 9, Manitoba, Rating: 10

I love this book. It has lot of drama. I love it so much I finished it in a week. I hope you make more books like this.
Deidra, Age 10, Ontario, Rating: 9

No Safe Harbour was amazing, I really enjoyed it, I couldn't keep my eyes off the page. When I got home from school instead of watching TV I would go right to my book.
Emily Rae C., Age 11, Manitoba, Rating: 10

I love the entire Dear Canada series! I have every single one of your books. All my friends ask me what book i think is the best and i always say: " #1. No Safe Harbour, #2. To Stand On My Own and #3. A Desperate Road To Freedom". By the end of No Safe Harbour you can really tell that Charlotte had change mentally. Before I read No Safe Harbour I had no idea that there was ever an extreme explosion in Halifax...ever! Well it has been a pleasure writing to ... u! Thank you soo much and good luck!
Darcey P., Age 11, Ontario, Rating: 10

The best book ever! I've read this book around 10 times now, and I'm not exaggerating.
Jen L., Age 10, Rating: 10

I love this book!! It is a sad and good book. If you want to cry, this is the book you want to read. This book is about how important family is, and second chances.
Sylvia M., Age 14, Ontario, Rating: 10

I love this story so much. It is one of my favorite Dear Canada books that I have read.
Lauren W., Age 10, Ontario, Rating: 10

I loved this book the minute I picked it up I couldn't put it down and when I finished the book it was sad that I was done.
Emily C., Age 11, Manitoba, Rating: 10

GRIPPING!!!!!!!! I didn't even get up OR move a muscle. In fact I even spent the whole day reading it over and over.
Kayla W., Age 9, Manitoba, Rating: 10

I think the Halifax explosion diary was great! it taught me alot about our history.
Makayla K., Age 13, New Brunswick, Rating: 10

This is my absolute favourite book so far in the series, which is big because I've read every one. I cried at least seven times and I recommend this book to anyone who doesn't mind getting in trouble for reading during class after this!!!!!!!
Hyanne L., Age: 10, Ontario, Rating: 10

I loved this book so much! Charlotte's story touched my heart. In the middle of reading it I kept getting teary eyed. Julie Lawson has inspired me to become a writer when I grow up!
Hailey G., Age: 11, Alberta, Rating: 10

I cried when I first read that book in grade four. Dramatic, hopeless and mysterious, I loved it! My favorite Dear Canada book, along with Not a Nickle to Spare by Perry Nodelman. Depressions and explosions are just plain... dreary!
Sherry C., Age: 14, British Columbia, Rating: 10

This was the first book i read in these series and I was working on the Halifax Explosion for my heritage fair project in grade 3 so I thought I would give it a try. WELL now I go into the school library everyday saying to the librarian "got any new Dear Canada books today?" I'M HOOKED!
Bella W., Age: 11., Nova Scotia, Rating: 10

I absolutely loved this book! I'm doing a project about Canadian history and I'm doing the Halifax explosion. So this book really helped me. I also thought it was cool to read from a different perspective of the catastrophic event! Love it, you should make more soon!
Aurora R., Age: 11, Saskatchewan, Rating: 10

I am IN LOVE with Dear Canada! This was the first one I read and it was incredible! I am interested in these books in a way I've never felt before. I learn so much about history and it's fun! I'D LIKE ALL THE BOOKS! I bought the newest book Torn Apart and I'm excited to read it!!!!!!
B. I., Age: 12, Ontario, Rating: 9

BEST BOOK EVER! I loved this book, it’s really sad but it is really good. If you liked this book I would recommend reading If I Die Before I Wake and To Stand On My Own. All the Dear Canada books are sad but intriguing. They are all really good books!
Victoria B., Age: 12, British Columbia, Rating: 9

I love the stunning parts. I will admit I used to think it was the most boringest book on earth. Now I think way different. This book makes me feel like I should stop feeling sorry for myself. So I say keep it up Julie Lawson and please make another tragic book. Where the River Takes Me was good too and so was A Ribbon of Shining Steel. Oh and please if you write another book, please write one about Thompson, Manitoba. THANK YOU.
Tiffany L., Age: 10, Manitoba, Rating: 10

I first read this book when I was about 10 and have read it five times since. Afterwards, started to write, and read more about the Halifax Explosion. The story is so sad, but extremely powerful. Charlotte became a very good friend, and this is one of my favourite books. I would suggest it to anyone.
Riley T., Age: 13, Ontario, Rating: 10

I love this book! I read it after my friend finally brought it back to the library. The girl on the cover actually looks like a painting of my friend too! I just started re-reading it a second time now:D I just saw that there a new book (I think it is!) called Torn Apart and as soon as I can find it I’m reading it!
Alexia A., Age: 12, Ontario, Rating: 10

I loved this book! It had lots of drama and it really made me think about the Halifax Explosion. I went to Halifax after I read it and I just imagined what it would have looked like to see the explosion, right at the harbour. Thank you, Dear Canada!.
Meredith Belle S., Age: 12, Ontario, Rating: 10

This is my most favourite book ever! I could not put it down! Guess how many times I have read it! Over 50! It's true! It's so enjoyable!.
Amy T., Age: 11, Ontario, Rating: 10

This book was awesome. It's very descriptive, making you feel like you're really there. Such a tragic story, I was hooked! This would make a nice movie. Julie, thank you for writing another never-put-it-down book!
Penny H., Age: 12, British Columbia, Rating: 10

I love this book! It is the best book I ever read in my life! Thank you so much.
Erin C., Age 12, Newfoundland and Labrador, Rating: 10