Nova Scotia·CBC Investigates

Here's the breakdown of the Christmas tree for Boston costs

CBC News has obtained the breakdown of what it cost Nova Scotia taxpayers to send a Christmas tree to adorn the Boston Common in 2015.

Nova Scotia taxpayers spent $242K last year on the gift, which has been a tradition since 1971

Nova Scotia paid $30,000 US to the City of Boston to sponsor the tree lighting in 2015. (Tree for Boston/Twitter)

Since 1971, Nova Scotia has sent a Christmas tree to adorn Boston Common. Officially, it's a thank you to the people of Boston for much-needed help following the Halifax Explosion of 1917.

At the same time, the Tree for Boston represents a major marketing effort for Nova Scotia. 

CBC News obtained a cost breakdown of what the program cost in 2015 through a freedom of information request.

Here is some of the spending: 

Scouting trips: $1,900

Employees of the Department of Natural Resources started scouting potential trees in Nova Scotia forests in June and July.

Tree cutting event: $2,500

The tree is cut down at an official ceremony with choral accompaniment. The 2015 tree was from Bill and Andrea MacEachern of Lorne, N.S. They received a $500 honorarium for the 72-year-old white spruce. Last year's event was held Nov. 17 in Pictou County.

The tree is cut down at an official ceremony with choral accompaniment. Last year's event cost $2,500. (

Nova Scotia broadcast partnership: $25,000

CTV Atlantic received $25,000 in sponsorship from Communications Nova Scotia for participating in the 2015 Tree for Boston program.

In its pitch document, CTV committed to covering the tree cutting event, emceeing the sendoff ceremony in Halifax, and doing weather items and "tree related elements" live from Boston during the 5 o'clock newscast the day of the tree lighting and the day following. 

CTV committed to producing and airing a 30-second commercial for Tree for Boston over a 10-day period, plus digital promotion and news promos around Tree for Boston.

CTV estimated this represents an additional $30,000 benefit to the province. 

Halifax tree sendoff: $10,000

The tree was strapped to a flatbed truck and then feted in Grand Parade with music from the Nova Scotia Mass Choir. Halifax's town crier attended both the Halifax party and the Boston celebration, and was reimbursed $1,600 in travel expenses. Last year's sendoff was held Nov. 18, the day after the tree cutting. 

Documents obtained through Access to Information say the trip from Nova Scotia to Boston costs $4,000. (Brett Ruskin/CBC)

Road trip: $4,000

A commercial shipper drove the tree from Pictou County to Halifax and on to Boston. It needed special permits to travel through Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Maine. 

Merchandise: $15,000

Merchandise was given away at events in Nova Scotia and Massachusetts. 

  • Nova Scotia tuques — $11,000
  • Nova Scotia flags — $1,000
  • Nova Scotia lanyards — $3,000

Social media promotion: $900

Communications Nova Scotia paid to promote the Tree for Boston and associated events on Facebook and Instagram.

Travel to Boston: $13,000

The province paid for flights and hotels for provincial officials, the premier and his staff. The family that donated the 2015 tree also received $1,000 to travel to the Boston tree lighting. 

Boston Broadcast Partnership: $75,000

The province paid the ABC affiliate WCVB $55,000 US (about $75,000 Cdn) to broadcast a live one-hour tree lighting special to the Boston area. The province estimated 200,000 people tune into the show, which features Boston musical acts as well as an artist from Nova Scotia. 

Tree lighting ceremony: $63,000 

Ceremony costs included $30,000 US (about $41,000 Cdn) paid by Nova Scotia to the City of Boston to sponsor the tree lighting ceremony. A Nova Scotia banner hung across the top of the stage at the Dec. 3, 2015 event. Other costs included travel and fees for Nova Scotia artist Dave Gunning, and media services at the event. 

Boston reception: $9,000

There was a party at the Omni Parker House Hotel in Boston for Nova Scotia's delegation, plus Nova Scotia business people who travelled to Boston at their own expense to take part in trade promotion facilitated by the province. Nova Scotians living in Boston were welcome to drop by. 


  • A previous version of this story contained an incorrect amount for social media promotion. The correct amount is $900. This version has been corrected.
    Nov 16, 2016 3:58 PM AT


Jack Julian


Jack Julian joined CBC Nova Scotia as an arts reporter in 1997. His news career began on the morning of Sept. 3, 1998 following the crash of Swissair 111. He is now a data journalist in Halifax, and you can reach him at (902) 456-9180, by email at or follow him on Twitter @jackjulian