November 24, 2016

Christmas Tree from Halifax

The Halifax Explosion occurred in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada, on the morning of December 6, 1917. SS Mont-Blanc, a French cargo ship fully loaded with wartime explosives, collided with the Norwegian vessel SS Imo in the Narrows, a strait connecting the upper Halifax Harbour to Bedford Basin.

The low-speed collision caused a series of chain reactions that resulted in a fast moving fire on the SS Mont-Banc. The fire caused a ignited the cargo on the SS Mont-Banc, causing a large explosion that devastated the seaport district of Halifax. Nearly 2,000 people were killed by blast and collapsed buildings, and an estimated 9,000 others were injured.

Boston Assistance

As soon as the news hit Boston, locals scrambled to send help to Halifax, Nova Scotia. Within 24-hours after the accident, a train was loaded up with medical supplies and was sent up north. Unfortunately, a major snow storm hit and the train was delayed and didn't arrive until December 9th.

The train arrived in Halifax just in time as supplies were badly needed, in addition, the medical staff on the train was able to cover for many of those that were working since the explosion occurred.

Nova Scotia Starts a Tradition

Nine years after the incident, the city of Halifax sent a Christmas in appreciation of the support by the people of Boston. The tree was also a way to promote Christmas Tree exports from Nova Scotia. The annual gift was soon taken over by the Nova Scotia Government as a way to promote the goodwill gesture and to promote Nova Scotia to Boston.

Christmas Tree Timeline

Here's the timeline that happens every year:

  • June/July - Scouts look for the perfect tree to send to Boston. Halifax residences can submit their tree.
  • November 14th - Tree is cut down in a large tree cutting ceremony
  • November 16th - Tree leaves Halifax to Boston in a Grand Parade. (750 Miles to Boston)
  • November 21st - Tree arrives in Boston
  • December 1st - Tree lighting Ceremony at the Boston Commons.

Christmas Tree Requirements

There are certain requirements for the Christmas Tree, as not just any tree will do:

  • Attractive Balsam Fir
  • White Spruce or Red Spruce
  • 12 to 16 Meters tall (40 to 50 feet)
  • Very healthy with excellent color
  • Medium to heavy Density
  • Uniform and Symmetrical
  • Easy to Access

Halifax Christmas Tree Fun Facts

This year marks the 99th of the Halifax Explosion.

It cost Nova Scotia $250,000 (Canada) a year to send a tree to Boston.

The Nova Scotia CA story has a complete cost breakdown of the true cost of sending the tree to Boston.

Most of the Christmas trees come from the open land and not from Christmas Tree farms. Landowners that agree to give up their tree get some compensation, last year a family was paid $500.

An average Balsam Tree grows less than 12" a year. Which means that a qualified Balsam Fir would have to have been planted at least 40 years ago to be eligible for Boston.

Nova Scotia pays for the lighting ceremony in Boston.

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