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Premier Stephen McNeil attends send off for Boston Christmas tree

In this Nov. 29, 2012 file photo, Frank Corbett, then-Deputy Premier of Nova Scotia, is flanked by RCMP officer during the lighting of the City of Boston's Christmas tree in Boston. The annual gift by Nova Scotia of the tree is in honor of aid that Boston sent following the 1917 explosion of a munitions ship in Halifax harbor that killed more than 1,600.

Charles Krupa/AP

Nova Scotia dispatched its annual gift of thanks to Boston today, sending a 14-metre white spruce to the city that pitched in 99 years ago after the Halifax Explosion killed or injured 11,000 people.

Premier Stephen McNeil stood under grey, drizzly skies outside city hall as a flatbed truck loaded with the towering tree headed out on the 1,800-kilometre journey to Boston.

Aboriginal drummers performed in front of the tree, which for the first time was harvested in Cape Breton on Crown-owned land close to the Waycobah First Nation.

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McNeil said the tradition has helped forge close ties with the New England city, which will light the tree during a ceremony on the Boston Common that is expected to draw 30,000 people — with 240,000 more watching live on TV.

Boston Parks Commissioner Chris Cook says the city "could not be more grateful" for the evergreen gift and the bond it has strengthened over the last century.

Boston famously sent medical personnel and supplies after the Halifax Explosion, which killed almost 2,000 people, injured 9,000 and levelled a Mi'kmaq village when a munitions ship exploded in Halifax harbour on Dec. 6, 1917.

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