Looking Back: The Day Campbell River said F*#@ That Rock

History's biggest non-nuclear explosion was in...Campbell River?

The good old days: when we blew up underwater mountains for entertainment

Canada isn’t exactly known for its military. We leave the megalomania to our southern cousins. But history shows we have more up our sleeve than our polite demeanour suggests.

We’ve never lost a war. We’ve been known to light up the occasional presidential building. We’ll fight our way to the top of any french ridge you put us on.

And we absolutely know how to blow a damn rock out of existence.

It might not sound like a huge feat, but this was no regular rock. It was massive. Ripple Rock was an underwater mountain responsible for sinking countless ships and keeping 114 sailors from ever making it home.

Essentially, it kept killing people. And Campbell River was over it.

So the government and military teamed up to organize the largest televised non-nuclear explosion in peacetime. When we say the rock was blown out of existence, we mean it.

On April 5th, 1958, viewers across Canada gathered around their tiny TV sets. They waited with bated breath for one of Canada’s first-ever live television broadcasts.

Ripple Rock, on the Seymour Narrows just outside Campbell River, was about to get its 15 seconds of fame.

After 20 years of planning, 2.5 years of underground drilling, and 1,400 tons of dynamite, it was finally time.

At 9:31:02 a.m., Ripple Rock was blasted to smithereens. The explosion lasted less than 10 seconds, which may have also made it the shortest live TV event in history.

YouTube video

Seven hundred thousand tons (635,028 tonnes) of rock and water erupted in a blast that reached a height of 1,000 feet (305 m). It was a masterpiece.

For all the build-up, once a rock is blown out of existence, it’s quite quickly forgotten. Most people don’t even know about Vancouver Island’s big bang.

But it happened! And if we ignore the environmental damage this likely caused (they said not even a seal died, but it was 1958, come on), we’d probably do it again.

The moral of the story? Canadians are polite. But when something is really important and people’s lives are at stake, we speak up and do something about it.

And we don’t take shit, even from rocks.