My late grandfather used to tell the story of just arriving at school in the north end of Halifax with his younger brother on December 6, 1917 when an explosion rocked the city. They immediately started to run home, but then remembered that they’d left their new coats at school so they ran back to get them, so they wouldn’t get in trouble for losing their coats.
Anyone who has a generation or two in Halifax likely has a similar story of a relative that lived, or didn’t live, through the explosion. It was the largest man made explosion of its time then and it rocked our city to its core. The mass devastation and loss of life (almost 2000 people!) was unprecedented.
Interesting fact: the clock at City Hall in Halifax in the Grand Parade is actually frozen at 9:04:35, the exact second that the explosion happened.
Our neighbourly city to the south, Boston, stepped up and sent help. Their support was desperately needed and so we have shown that appreciation in the manner of sending them a massive Christmas tree each year in thanks since 1971.
This year, the schedule for the sendoff of the tree is below:
November 15, 10:30 a.m. - The 46 foot white spruce tree that has been chosen in Oxford, NS will be cut down. Everyone is welcome to attend and enjoy the music and meet the family who “raised” the tree (Ross McKellar and Teresa Simpson). The event will be at 6735 Little River Road, Oxford.
November 15, 2:00-3:00 p.m. The tree will make a stop at the Rath Eastlink Community Centre in Truro at 625 Abenaki Road for anyone in the area who wants to say hello.
November 16, 11:45-12:45 An official send-off event will be hosted at the Grand Parade in downtown Halifax with music and performers.
November 17, 6:00 p.m. The Parade of Lights will be happening this night and the Tree for Boston will be pulled along as part of the parade. Check out all of the local parade listings here.
November 18, 10:00 a.m. The tree will make the last stop in Nova Scotia at the Amherst Superstore at 126 South Albion Street to give everyone a chance to wish it bon voyage.
November 29, 2018 at 7:00 p.m. The big moment! The Boston Tree Lighting event happens live in Boston, Massachusetts on the Boston Common on Tremont Street. It will be televised live, check your local listings for channel information.
For more information on the Halifax Explosion you might want to check out this adult fictional account of a love story set during the explosion written by my own brother (affiliate link) or pick up this local children’s book about two stowaway flying squirrels who go along for the tree’s journey.