N.S. family donates giant spruce as 2023 Christmas Tree for Boston: ‘It’s an honour’

Click to play video: '2023 Tree for Boston Hails from Stewiacke'
2023 Tree for Boston Hails from Stewiacke
Global’s Eilish Bonang connects with Stewiacke native, Bette Gourley, whose 45-foot white spruce was chosen as this year’s tree headed for Boston later this week – Nov 13, 2023

A giant white spruce that has served as a Stewiacke, N.S. family’s outdoor Christmas tree for decades has been chosen as this year’s Tree for Boston.

“We’re very excited,” said Bette Gourley, whose front lawn is where the 45-foot-tall tree currently stands. “It’s an honour — there’s no question about it — it’s an honour to have our tree go, and we wish the tree and everybody well.”

The Tree for Boston is the province’s annual thank you to the Massachusetts city for sending medical personnel and supplies to Nova Scotia within hours of the Halifax Explosion in 1917. The explosion devastated north-end Halifax, killing nearly 2,000 people and leaving thousands more injured and homeless.

Every tree that is given to Boston is carefully selected. It must be between 40 and 50 feet tall, with good colour and medium to heavy density. It also must be symmetrical and easy to access.

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Gourley told Global News Morning’s Eilish Bonang that the province first expressed interest in using the tree in 2018, but at the time, it was a little too short.

Bette Gourley says it’s an ‘honour’ to be able to donate this year’s Tree for Boston. Communications Nova Scotia

The tree originally grew on Gourley’s parents’ property, but was moved to her home in Stewiacke when it was just five feet tall. Now 40 years and 40 feet later, the tree is ready to make the trip to Boston.

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“We pruned it and decorated it through the years until I couldn’t, and my husband was 6’2, so he pruned it until he couldn’t reach it anymore,” she said.

“My son is 6’6, and the last year we decorated and pruned it, my husband had him in the bucket of a four-wheel drive … with a 10-foot pole, putting on lights. That was the last (time). We couldn’t reach it after that.”

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Bette Gourley says she and her family decorated the tree together until it got too tall. Communications Nova Scotia

She said she is proud to have the tree represent her hometown of Stewiacke, which she described as “a little town in the centre of Nova Scotia.” This is the first time the Tree for Boston has come from that area.

“I live in a wonderful town, and I hope all the people enjoy it,” she said.

Gourley said she has no immediate plans to plant another tree, but added that she still intends to decorate for Christmas.

“I planted that tree about 40 years ago, so I’m not going to see another tree that size, that’s for sure,” she said with a laugh. “But we’ll do something. I decorate every year. I love Christmas.”

The tree-cutting ceremony will take place Wednesday. Communications Nova Scotia

The tree-cutting ceremony is scheduled to take place Wednesday on the Gourley family’s property in Stewiacke.

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The tree will leave Halifax on Nov. 19. The city of Boston is scheduled to hold its tree-lighting ceremony at the Boston Common on Nov. 30 at 7 p.m.

“It’s a beautiful tree. I hope Boston loves it,” said Gourley.

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