Nova Scotia’s cool, moist climate is ideal for growing balsam fir and since the turn of the century, Lunenburg County has been harvesting and exporting these balsams for Christmas trees and wreaths.
Because of its lush foliage, fragrant aroma and superior needle retention, Nova Scotia Balsam soon became the tree of choice throughout much of North America. By the 1950’s annual exports had exceeded 3.5 million, half of which came from Lunenburg County.
Christmas trees and wreath making soon became a way of life of many Lunenburg County families and the knowledge and tradition was passed down from generation to generation. My cousin Norma, who learned from her Mom, who learned from her Grandmother still makes wreaths, and this year I bought one from her! They smell so wonderful!!!
Skilled growers practice natural stand management where “mother” or “seed trees” are left standing to provide replacement seedlings for the mature trees that are harvested. This process makes Lunenburg County unique in its ability to supply trees in a wide range of heights and grades. Trees 30 feet or more are quite often shipped to various markets.
FOR EXAMPLE: Every year for the past years Nova Scotia gives Boston a a beautiful huge Balsam tree to say THANK YOU!!! On December 6, 1917 at 9:00 AM, the Halifax Explosion severely destroyed much of the city. Boston authorities learned of the disaster via telegraph, and quickly organized and dispatched a relief train around 10:00 PM that night, to assist survivors. A blizzard following the explosion delayed the train, which finally arrived in the early morning on December 8, and immediately began distributing food, water, and medical supplies. Numerous personnel on the train were able to relieve the Nova Scotia medical staff, most of whom had worked without rest since the explosion occurred. In 1918, Halifax sent a Christmas tree to the City of Boston in thanks and remembrance for the help they provided immediately after the disaster. That gift was revived in 1971 by the Lunenburg County Christmas Tree Producers Association, who began an annual donation of a large tree to promote Christmas tree exports as well as to acknowledge Boston’s support after the explosion. The gift was later taken over by the Nova Scotia Government to continue the goodwill gesture as well as to promote trade and tourism.
The land owners work in harmony with nature to produce an all natural, hand crafted product that has become world renowned and trees and wreaths from Lunenburg are shipped to many parts of the world. Nova Scotia Balsam has truly become “the smell of Christmas”! Local Family Businesses like Delong Farms produce beautiful wreaths and centrepieces that are shipped everywhere around the world!
Christmas Tree export starts early in Lunenburg County!!! November 1st early and truckloads of trees are a very common sight. In 1995, Lunenburg County was officially recognized as the ‘Balsam Fir Christmas Tree Capital of the World and this designation in turn helped to earn the county the ‘Forest Capital of Canada’ award in 1996. There is a “tree lot” very close to my home that is usually vacant all year but in November comes to life with hundreds of trees being sorted and processed and ready for distribution.
Lunenburg County Christmas tree growers are very proud of their industry and as you enter Lunenburg County on Hwy #103, you will see a sign indicating you are entering the ‘Balsam Fir Christmas Tree Capital of the World.’
In past years when the kids were small and we lived in our big country home, I used to get two real Christmas trees. I don’t get a real tree these days ( I probably should) because I like to decorate my home early for Christmas. I do get fresh boughs and a wreath and sometimes a few boughs to tuck in amongst the artificial. They smell so good!!!
A light dusting of white stuff overnight last night and I figured it was time to put the finishing touches on my outdoor Christmas decor! It just feels like Christmas now with a light fluffy snow.