The Boston States is a old term that many who grew up in Nova Scotia will remember hearing. In the late 1800s and early 1900s there was magnet migration to the New England states as many young people left to find work.
Follow this link to the song The Boston States by The Stanfields
Last week, on the 6th of December, was the 97th anniversary of the Halifax Explosion. Last week, on the 4th of December, was the ceremonial lighting of the giant Christmas tree on Boston Commons. The two events are directly related.
December 6, 1917, two ships collided in Halifax harbour; the Mont Blanc and the Imo. The Mont Blanc was a munitions ship carrying supplies to the battlefields of WWI – the resultant fire from the collision was disastrous. The Mont Blanc exploded with such force that it stood as the largest man-made explosion until the bombing of Hiroshima in 1945.
The explosion devastated the north end of Halifax which was reduced to rubble and left 2,000 people dead, 9,000 more wounded or maimed and 25,000 without shelter. The crippled and burning ships were a sight to see after the collision so a large number of people were standing and watching either on shore or in windows overlooking the harbour when the explosion occurred. An enormous number of people lost their sight from shards of window glass.
My great uncle remembered feeling the explosion and hearing it rattle the dishes on the kitchen shelf, that was over 200 km away. My brother-in-law’s grandmother, who was 6 at the time, was buried in the rubble overnight. She heard people shouting for survivors but was too frightened to call out because she thought the explosion was an act of war and the Germans had bombed Halifax. Lots more about the explosion can be found here.
Boston was informed via telegraph and gathered a train full of desperately needed medical personnel, supplies, food and water which was dispatched the next day. By this time not only had a large portion of the city of Halifax been flattened and hospitals been overwhelmed but a blizzard had blanketed the devestated city and its thousands of wounded souls with snow. A second disaster.
Aid for Halifax came from many sources but the Massachusetts-Halifax Relief Committee provided on-going support with supplies and labourers for rebuilding. As a gesture of thanks the government of Nova Scotia sent the city of Boston a giant Christmas tree in 1918. The tradition was revived in 1971 and has carried on for 43 years now.
The 2014 tree was cut from Antigonish County and was a 55 year old, 43 foot, white spruce. The government of Nova Scotia has a web site dedicated to the tree tradition here.
Our way of saying thank you to The Boston States.