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Christmas Tree Gift for Boston

Tue, 26 Nov 2013 by Polycorp

A long standing tradition between Halifax and Boston is being replayed in December with the arrival of a 15m white spruce to the City of Boston.  The tree, originally from Lunenburg County, will become Boston’s official Christmas tree and will be lit on the Boston Common throughout the holiday season.

The tree has great symbolic importance to both cities as it is a thank you to the City of Boston for the support they showed to Halifax during the First World War in the aftermath of the Halifax Explosion on Dec 6, 1917.

The Halifax Explosion was a massive man-made explosion that ripped through the Richmond area of Northend Halifax and parts of Dartmouth on the other side of the harbour. It was caused by the collision of two ships, the French munitions ship, Mont Blanc and the Belgium relief ship, the Imo. The devastation left in its wake was profound; approximately 2000 people were killed, 9000 were injured and thousands of homes were destroyed. The weather was bitter cold and many people found themselves homeless.  Boston authorities responded quickly and organized a relief train – food, water, medical supplies and medical personnel were dispatched to Halifax and arrived the next day.  The assistance was invaluable to the devastated city.  So in 1918, Halifax sent a Christmas tree to the City of Boston as a thank you.  The tradition was revived in 1971 and continues to this day.

Of course, not just any tree can be donated and shipped to Boston.  The Nova Scotia Department of Natural Resources (www.novascotia.ca/natr/) has a selection process in place with a minimum standard defined so that only certain types of trees are eligible.  People can submit their trees for evaluation and then one is selected.  This year, a 15m white spruce from Mary Lou Milligan’s lot in Mill Cove was chosen. A public send-off from Grand Parade was organized on Nov 13, 2013 before the tree began its trek to Boston.

If you missed the public send-off, tune in to ABC Boston on Dec 5, 2013 to view the tree lighting ceremony.  And as you take a walk outdoors (possibly from your new condos in Halifax), take a moment to reflect on this sad but inspirational time in the history of Halifax.

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