OXFORD, N.S. – Christmas celebrations came early to Oxford as hundreds of people participated in the annual Nova Scotia tradition of cutting down the ‘Tree for Boston.’
“I can hardly begin to explain how thrilled I am and how thrilled our town is. It gets me choked up that this special gift is coming from Oxford,” said Trish Stewart, mayor of Oxford, during the Nov. 15th event.
The celebration couldn’t have come at a better time for the town.
“Today we celebrate in a very positive way after many, many months of very challenging situations our town has had to endure,” said Stewart. “I’m sure you’ve all heard about that very famous sinkhole and the structure issues that plagued our school. As we stand here we have a tremendous reason to celebrate.”
The 14-metre white spruce is Nova Scotia’s gift to Boston in return for the help they sent following the Halifax Explosion in 1917.
“The City of Boston sent help to Nova Scotia when it needed it most, and this tree is a symbol of our gratitude and remembrance,” said Ian Rankin, Nova Scotia Minister of Lands and Forestry.
The tree was donated by Ross McKellar and Teresa Simpson, owners of the property on which the tree has grown for 55 years, and is the first Boston Christmas tree to come from Cumberland County.
“We’re very happy and very proud to be a part of this celebration,” said Simpson. “It really is a beautiful tree and I can’t wait to see it lit up in Boston Common.”
Family and friends of McKellar and Simpson will make the trip to Boston for the tree lighting on Nov. 29.
“We want to be part of that big celebration with 30,000 people in front of our tree being lit up,” said McKellar.
In July, McKellar and Simpson were approached by the province of Nova Scotia and told that their tree was in the running for the trip to Boston.
“When we found out in the first part of August that it was selected, we were very honoured,” said Simpson.
The tree was found by Paul King, a forest technician out of the Oxford Office of the Department of Lands and Forestry.
“I’ve been looking for the perfect tree for about 12 years now,” said King. “A lot of times you’ll find a tree and it will be good on three good sides, but the fourth side isn’t good, or there’s a forked top on it, or it’s crooked; so it’s hard to find a perfect tree.”
This is the first tree he has found that is good enough to make the trip to Boston.
“We’re constantly looking for a tree,” said King. “Everyone in the department is always trying to find to a good tree.”
King moved to the Oxford office from the Shubenacadie office in March.
“I bought a house up the road here, and I was driving by and I noticed it, so I snapped a picture and sent it off to the co-ordinator, Don Cameron in Truro, and next thing you know it’s heading to Boston.”
Besides finding the tree, King also had the honour of cutting it down.
“They usually bring somebody else in to cut it down, but we’re all trained, we’re all forest technicians, so instead of bringing someone in they let a local guy do it.”
He said it was “pretty special” to cut the tree down.
“I have family roots here in Cumberland County, so it made it that much more special,” he said.
Finding a tree for Boston provides bragging rights among his co-workers, and although it is the first tree King’s found, he hopes it’s not the last.
“I’ll definitely be keeping my eyes open for another tree,” he said.