Halifax was an important center for shipping during World War II. As the largest Canadian city on the East Coast of the country, Halifax sent exports and received imports. Merchants sending and receiving goods were faced with challenges due to the presence of German U-boats in the Atlantic Ocean. Tensions were high among those in the shipping industry during the War Years. Due to increased numbers of sunken ships, the Canadian Royal Navy took over merchant ships. Still, ships were torpedoed at high rates. In the year 1942, "the Allies lost—on average—one 10,000-ton ship every 10 hours for 31 straight days" in the Atlantic Ocean. Of these, "fifty-eight Canadian-registered merchant ships were sunk by enemy or probable enemy action." Severe supply shortages led to rationing. These shortages made the loss of precious cargo even more dire. Exports from Canada out of Halifax became increasingly important as the war dragged on and the Allies in Europe suffered. Exports to the Allies in Europe were important, as "25,343 ships sailed from North America to Britain, carrying more than 180 million tons of military and civilian supplies, and thousands of other voyages occurred elsewhere. A 10,000-ton merchant ship could carry enough food to feed 225,000 people for a week."
With the Navy takeover of merchant ships, Halifax merchants experienced less control than they had previously had. Sunken ships also meant lost cargo and therefore profits. Their perspective on the war was overall a negative one. Though the merchants were consistently shipping goods, the loss of control and cargo led them to look forward to the end of the war.