Tree for Boston sails out of Digby

Jonathan Riley, Digby Courier
Published on November 13, 2012

The Tree for Boston passed through Digby this afternoon.

The 17 metre white spruce was cut down this morning, Tuesday, Nov. 13 from the property of Paul Hicks in Jordan Bay, Shelburne County.

Gerald Knol, a driver with the Department of Transportation arrived in Digby about 3:30 p.m. this afternoon, with the 70-year-old Boston tree on the back of a float.

They headed for Saint John on the 4 p.m. ferry.

The people of Nova Scotia have shipped a tree to Boston every year since 1971 as a thank you to the people of Boston for their help after the Halifax Explosion of 1917.

The explosion of two war ships in the Halifax Narrows between the bridges levelled more than 300 acres of Halifax, killed 1600 people instantly, injured 9,000, and left 20,000 people homeless in a city of 65,000.

It was the largest man-made explosion before nuclear bombs.

The people of Boston heard of the disaster through the telegraph and loaded a train with food, water and other emergency supplies, and medical staff. That train was underway by 10 p.m. that night; just over 12 hours after the explosion.

In 1918 Halifax sent a Christmas tree as a thank you and in 1971 the Lunenburg County Christmas Tree Producers Association revived what is now a 40-year-old tradition. The Nova Scotia government took over the tradition a few years later.

Originally they shipped the tree by private container line. When that line stopped running, the Department of Transportation began driving the tree to Boston.

In 2008 when the Boston Tree was cut down in Clementsport, people wondered why the government wouldn’t use the ferry to ship the tree.

Since 2009 the tree has travelled to Saint John aboard the Princess of Acadia ferry.

And from there to Boston. The Bostonians will set up the tree on the Boston Commons and light it during a special ceremony on Thursday, Nov. 29.

You can see more pictures of the tree and follow its journey on Twitter @treeforBoston or Facebook TreeForBoston.

The Department of Natural resources selects the tree based on six criteria:

    - it must be either balsam fir, white spruce or red spruce

    - 12 to 15 meters (40-50 feet) in height

    - healthy with good colour

    - of medium to heavy density

    - uniform and symmetrical

    - and easy to access