Hundreds of students and community members gathered in Antigonish County Monday morning as Nova Scotia’s tree for Boston was cut down and wrapped before starting its journey across the border.

John and Ethel Ann MacPherson of Purlbrook, N.S. are donating their 55-year-old, 13-metre white spruce to Boston this year.

"Our kids used to swing on this tree but now they're fully grown and so is the tree, so we are glad to make it part of this great tradition," said John MacPherson. 

It is the first time in the 43-year history of the tradition that the tree will come from the northern half of the province.

"This tree will be part of the proud, annual tradition of thanking the city of Boston for helping Nova Scotia in our time of need," said Environment Minister Randy Delorey on behalf of Natural Resources Minister Zach Churchill.

"It is a great honour for Antigonish County to be providing this year's tree and we are grateful to the MacPhersons for donating it to represent the province in Boston."

Nova Scotia has been sending a Christmas tree to Boston since 1971, to thank the city for its help after the Halifax Explosion in 1917.

The Halifax Explosion claimed about 2,000 lives and left hundreds injured and homeless. Boston was quick to provide medical personnel and supplies.

"Nova Scotia and Boston have long shared a neighbourly relationship so I want to thank the MacPherson family and the province for continuing this wonderful tradition which I know Bostonians greatly appreciate during the holiday season," said Scott Whitmore, U.S. Consul for Atlantic Canada.

Staff and students from the environmental technologies program at the Nova Scotia Community College Strait Area campus cut the tree at Monday’s ceremony, which also included a visit from Santa.

The white spruce will now make its way to Halifax for a public send-off at Grand Parade at 11:30 a.m. Tuesday.

Nova Scotians are welcome to attend the ceremony, which will feature a live performance by The Stanfields. They will also have the opportunity to sign a thank you book for Boston.

The tree will then make its 1,117-kilometre journey to Boston. A tree-lighting ceremony will take place on the Boston Common on Dec. 4.

The province is encouraging Nova Scotians to help search for the perfect tree for Boston for future years.

Anyone who knows of a white or red spruce or balsam fir that is 12 to 15 metres high, is in good shape, and is easy to access can contact their local Natural Resources office.