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Nova Scotia’s Christmas tree to Boston showcases special relationship

Walt's World with Walter Jones

It will soon be time to send our annual Christmas tree to Boston as thanks for their help in the 1917 Halifax explosion.

Did you ever wonder why Boston was so quick off the mark to send humanitarian aid to Halifax? They sent boxcars full of provisions and volunteers arrived as well.

The answer, as I see it, was that we Nova Scotians, including Halifax were family.

In the late 1860s Nova Scotia and all of the Maritimes experienced a period of recession. According to the news of that time we were experiencing a change from the age of wood, wind and sail to iron, coal and rail.

The Maritimes did very well trading with the New England States before and during the Civil War. The United States rescinded their treaty of reciprocity after the Civil War, and trade took a nosedive.

New Brunswick had a border in common with Maine and they tended to migrate there. We had closer ties with Boston and it was easier to get to Boston. Twenty dollars bought you a first class ticket on a Cunard Liner or it was $2 by train.

People who migrated from Nova Scotia to Boston were by and large skilled workers, ships carpenters, cabinet makers, black smiths, shoe makers and so on.

The border before the Second World War was simply ignored by people from the Maritimes and they moved freely back and forth with little hassle from authorities. Boston experienced a spurt of growth after the civil war going from 175,000 to more than 400,000.

This was due in no small part to the Nova Scotia influence.

During this time, Nova Scotia's saw and hammer people, made up over 20 per cent of the house builders in Boston.

We in Amherst can testify to their skill in house building, since ships carpenters also shaped our town. Two examples that I came upon were Edward Kennedy, a Democrat, and a holster for the tram company and Benjamin Campbell, a Republican and surgeon, who went on to be a senator.

Nova Scotia immigrants were fast becoming the dominate force in middle class Boston, and as we know the middle class dominate the benevolent societies. So when the explosion hit it was natural for Boston, with its close social and economic ties to our province, to be the first off the mark and be the ones who gave us the biggest humanitarian aid.

As I said we are family.


Walt Jones columns appear weekly in the Amherst News

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