2.5 min readBy Published On: November 6th, 2022Categories: Features0 Comments on History Lesson: A Tree for Boston

Do you know why Boston receives a tree every year from Nova Scotia? Well, gather around and let me tell you the story of the Tree for Boston (via Boston Parks & Recreation Department).

Over a hundred years ago, on December 6, 1917, two ships collided in Halifax Harbor, causing a devastating explosion. Boston authorities learned of the disaster by telegraph and quickly organized and dispatched a relief train full of supplies & emergency personnel within a day.

Nova Scotia was so grateful for the kindness and quick response the people of Boston provided that they give the gift a beautiful Christmas tree each year as a thank you.

Boston’s official 2022  tree is a 45-foot white spruce donated by landowner Roddy Townsend of Christmas Island, along with his children Angela, Carmen, and Andrew. (Here’s hoping there’s a baby owl in it!)

“How appropriate that this year’s tree comes from Christmas Island,” said Boston Parks and Recreation Commissioner Ryan Woods. “For 51 years the province of Nova Scotia has provided this festive gift, a symbol that our bond endures and testimony to the resilience of their citizens in the face of disaster and the generosity of our own city in a time of need.”

A public tree-cutting ceremony will be held on November 16 on the Townsend family’s property on Christmas Island, Cape Breton. Carmen Townsend, an award-winning musician, will perform a song she has written about the Tree for Boston, and a local Mi’Kmaq elder will conduct a smudging ceremony before the tree is cut. The tree will leave Halifax for Boston on November 21.

“The holidays are a time of reflection and gratitude,” said Tory Rushton, Minister of Natural Resources and Renewables. “The Tree for Boston continues to be a sign of our deep appreciation for the aid Boston provided after the Halifax Explosion.”

 Parks Commissioner Woods, Santa Claus, and local school children will greet the tree at its final destination near the Boston Visitors Center at 139 Tremont Street. The tree will be lit at approximately 7:55 p.m. on Thursday, December 1, as the City of Boston’s Official Tree Lighting is celebrated on Boston Common from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. The ceremony will be broadcast live on WCVB Channel 5 starting at 7 p.m.

The annual Tree Lighting on Boston Common is co-sponsored by the Boston Parks and Recreation Department and the title sponsor, The Province of Nova Scotia. Amazon serves as our presenting sponsor, JetBlue is the Community Sponsor, Related Beal serves as Pyrotechnic Sponsor while Bank of America, Constellation, and the Greater Boston Convention and Visitors Bureau are supporting the event as key sponsors. Additional support provided by WCVB Channel 5 and the Boston Globe. 

Visit novascotia.ca/treeforboston and Boston.gov/Parks for more information on the Tree for Boston, and follow our social channels to stay up to date with all the holiday lighting events: @bostonparksdept on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram

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