Located on the east coast of Canada is Nova Scotia, one of Canada’s Atlantic provinces. Every year around Christmas, the province of Nova Scotia sends a massive Christmas tree down to Boston to thank the Bostonian’s who aided in the aftermath of the 1917 Halifax Explosion. The Boston aid arrived the day after the explosion that kill 1,900 people and wounded another 9,000.
For those who don’t know much about the Halifax Explosion, it was the world’s largest man-made explosion before Hiroshima. The explosion happened on December 6th, 1917 in the Halifax harbour. The explosion was caused when a Belgian relief vessel and a French munitions carrier collided during World War I. 1600 Buildings were destroyed, 12,000 houses damaged, and 6000 were left homeless.
The Belgian vessel was leaving the Halifax harbour, heading for New York, when the French Munitions ship was on it’s way to wait for a convoy when the ships collided at approx 8:45am. The French munitions vessel was carrying picric acid, gun cotton, TNT, and the top deck was carrying benzol. For roughly 20 minutes, crowds began to gather near the Halifax Harbour to watch the fire and sparks. While they were watching, the crew of the Mont Blonc rowed for their lives to warn people to run. Unfortunately it was too late. The French munitions vessel had drifted and rammed Pier 6. The Halifax explosion flattened everything within 800 metres. Rumour has it the explosion was heard as far away as Prince Edward Island. To add insult to injury, the following day one of the worst blizzards ever recorded in Halifax began and lasted for an astonishing 6 days.
If it wasn’t for the aid given by Boston, many more would have died. This years tree was a 49 foot (15 metre) white spruce, donated by the Shatfords from Fox Point, Lunenburg County. The tree has been on this property for almost sixty years. Hundreds of elementary school children were present for the cutting of the tree, and another large group of children awaited it’s arrival on the Boston Common.
Chalk one up for heartwarming history lessons.