Hundreds gathered for a special send off for the Nova Scotia Tree for Boston, and enjoyed musical performances by Dave Gunning and the Nova Scotia Mass Choir, today, Nov. 18, in Halifax’s Grand Parade. Each year, Nova Scotia sends a Christmas tree to the people of Boston to say thank you for their help in the aftermath of the Halifax Explosion in 1917. This year’s tree is a 15-metre (49-feet), 72-year-old white spruce from Bill and Andrea MacEachern of Lorne, Pictou Co. “Every year, a Nova Scotia family, like the MacEacherns, comes forward and offers to keep this tradition going, in the spirit of friendship,” said Premier Stephen McNeil. “I experienced the gratitude of the people in Boston last year when I had the honour of representing Nova Scotia at the tree lighting, and tens of thousands of people gathered to see our tree lit.” The tree made its way through Halifax today via Halifax Police and Fire escort and stopped at St. Stephen’s Elementary School, which became pen pals with Mather Elementary school in Boston to learn more about the tree tradition. “Boston’s residents treasure our long-lasting bond with the people of Nova Scotia,” said Martin J. Walsh, Mayor of Boston. “The arrival of the tree is a sign that the holidays are upon us and the goodwill we showed toward our friends to the north in 1917 has been appreciated and returned year after year.” The tradition inspired a song called We Will See You Through, composed by Mark Despault of Digby, Tom Leighton of Moncton and Suzanne Pasternak, a former Massachusetts resident, who was at the ceremony for its first performance today. “This annual tradition is a stellar example of both international relations and one of the finest models of hope and courage born from the most tragic events in Canadian history,” said Ms. Pasternak. “It is a great honour for me to be the representative from the writing team at such an important, heartfelt event.” The tree is now en route to Boston on a Department of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal flatbed truck. It will stop at the Rath Eastlink Community Centre in Truro and in Victoria Square, Amherst for a public viewing and photo opportunity. It will arrive at Boston Common on Friday, Nov. 20th, under police escort, and will be decorated with thousands of LED lights. The tree-lighting ceremony on Boston Common, Thursday, Dec. 3, will feature a live musical performance by Pictou County artist Dave Gunning. The ceremony attracts about 30,000 people and is broadcast live on the ABC Boston television channel to an audience of about 300,000. “I’m always proud to represent my home province of Nova Scotia. And coincidentally it turns out that this year’s tree and I both grew up in Pictou County,” said Mr. Gunning. To learn more, go to novascotia.ca/TreeforBoston . Follow the tree’s journey on Twitter through @treeforBoston and “like” the tree on Facebook at www.facebook.com/treeforboston .
BERLIN — Governments and maritime agencies urged an abundance of caution Thursday for ships operating in the Persian Gulf region after two oil tankers were damaged in suspected attacks near the strategic Strait of Hormuz.Though details of the suspected attack on the ships in the Gulf of Oman of the coast of Iran were still vague, the incident comes amid growing friction between Washington and Tehran in an area already fraught with tension.“The shipping industry views this as an escalation of the situation, and we are just about as close to a conflict without there being an actual armed conflict, so the tensions are very high,” said Jakob P. Larsen, the head of maritime security for the shipping association BIMCO, which represents some 60 per cent of the world’s merchant fleet, including owners of the two damaged tankers.The vessels involved have been identified as the MT Front Altair, a Marshall Islands-flagged crude oil tanker owned by Norway-based Frontline, and Kokuka Courageous, managed by a Singapore company.Norway’s Foreign Ministry said it “is concerned about the situation in Oman Bay” and “this type of incident further increases tension in the region.”In a statement, the ministry referred to advice from the Shipowners’ Association and the Norwegian Maritime Authority about sailing in the area. The Norwegian Maritime Authority had earlier issued a warning to the country’s merchant fleet, advising ships to “exercise high care and alertness in the region.”“Although there is no full clarity in the background for these attacks, the Norwegian Maritime Directorate’s advice is to keep a good distance to Iranian waters based on today’s event,” the agency said in a statement.The United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations, which is run by the British navy, put out an alert early Thursday urging “extreme caution” after the incident.“We are deeply concerned by reports of explosions and fires on vessels in the Gulf of Oman,” the agency said. “We are in contact with local authorities and partners in the region.”The Strait of Hormuz is the only sea passage from the Persian Gulf to the ocean, however, making it one of the world’s most important sea lanes.Larsen said past experience is that even with increased danger, commercial shipping will continue to use the route.“Shippers will be cautious with taking their ships into the region, but as we’ve seen many times before when the risks are high, so are the rewards, so I think shippers will continue their trade,” he said in a telephone interview from London, where he was attending a meeting of the United Nations’ International Maritime Organization’s Maritime Safety Committee.“You may some sort of naval co-operation and guidance to shipping being set up which will render protection to shipping through the area, but it will depend on what the investigation shows.”___Gregory Katz in London and Jan M. Olsen in Copenhagen contributed to this report.David Rising, The Associated Press