Continuing a 48-year-old tradition, Nova Scotia is sending Boston a 45-foot white spruce tree for the holidays as a thank you gift to the city for sending help after thousands were killed in the 1917 Halifax Explosion, officials announced Wednesday.
The tree also serves as a symbol of the Canadian province’s friendship with Boston, Nova Scotia Minister of Culture and Heritage Leo Glavine said.
“This is something beyond the tree. This is a connection and an affinity we have for each other’s place,” he said. “It’s a real, tangible way for our province to reconnect [with Boston] and make sure the next generation carries on what is a really wonderful tradition.”
The 60-year-old tree was donated by Desmond Waithe and Corina Saunders of Black Point, Pictou County, Nova Scotia, Canada. The tree will be cut down Nov. 13 and begin its 684-mile journey to Boston Common, the Nova Scotia Department of Lands and Forestry said in a statement.
“The Tree for Boston is about gratitude, friendship, and harmony,” Lands and Forestry Minister Iain Rankin said in the statement. “We continue to honour Boston for their kindness during our time of need following the Halifax Explosion 102 years ago.”
Two ships collided in Halifax Harbour on Dec. 6, 1917, causing an explosion that killed 2,000 people and left hundreds more injured or homeless, according to the department. Boston quickly responded by sending medical personnel and supplies.
After being cut, the tree will head to Halifax for send-off celebrations and a parade Nov. 15 and 16, and then to Boston Common. The festivities will begin in Boston Common on Dec. 5 at 6 p.m. with the tree-lighting ceremony at 7 p.m.
“We are very proud and honoured to have our tree represent Nova Scotia in this year’s tradition of Tree for Boston,” Waithe said in the statement. “It is important to remember our past and recognize Boston for all their support during a tough moment in Nova Scotia’s history.”
Glavine said that since the explosion’s 100th anniversary two years ago, there’s been a resurgence in Nova Scotia in remembering the devastating explosion and the enormity and immediacy of Boston’s response.
Nova Scotia gets thousands of tourists from Massachusetts each year and trades frequently with the state, Glavine said. He said Nova Scotians feel a special connection with Massachusetts, and its sports teams. There is even a substantial group of Nova Scotian Red Sox fans called the Bluenose BoSox Brotherhood.
“We have an enormous connection to Boston and Massachusetts and we want it to be a part of the next generation,” he said.