Willwork, Inc. Exhibit & Event Services Remembers A Solemn Event And Celebrates A Holiday Tradition

Willwork, Inc. Exhibit and Event Services is a national leader in exhibition services and event project management.

In 2017, we have been celebrating our 30th year in business.  Yes, we started out in 1987 – and when we did so, we were a company that focused exclusively on providing exhibit installation & dismantle labor for shows and events in the Greater Boston area.

Today, Willwork has offices in major urban areas across the U.S., and from coast to coast we work in cities, towns, villages, and hamlets.

Our client list includes some of the largest and most established multinationals, and smaller and newer companies of which you may not have heard, yet … but you will.

Our valued clients and our valued business partners, and our exceptional and hard-working employees, enable and make possible success – and are the foundation of the Willwork legacy of excellence.

Here, deep into the holiday season, Willwork cites and points to and heralds an epic and historic example of noble and human endeavor, of compassion, and of the most heartfelt and enduring gratitude – all generated from a terrible tragedy and immense loss of life.

Looking across Halifax Harbor two days after the explosion (image credit: Nova Scotia Archives and Record Management)

It is an episode, still playing out, that joins two cities on the Atlantic Ocean: Boston, our hometown, and Halifax, the provincial capital of the Canadian province of Nova Scotia.

It is a story of extraordinary organization and logistics and labor and the most estimable human achievement and virtue.

This year is the centennial chapter and installment of the story – for it was 100 years ago that destruction and fire emanated from the waters just off of Halifax, and the people and resources of Boston quickly were marshaled and dispatched to come to the aid of the city.

The “Halifax Explosion” took place on the morning of December 6, 1917.  In the following excerpt from the Wikipedia entry on the disaster, the magnitude and devastation of the maritime explosion is explained:

“The Norwegian vessel SS Imo collided with SS Mont-Blanc, a French cargo ship laden with high explosives, in the Narrows, a strait connecting the upper Halifax Harbour to Bedford Basin. A fire onboard the French ship ignited her cargo, causing a large explosion that devastated the Richmond district of Halifax. Approximately 2,000 people were killed by the blast, debris, fires or collapsed buildings, and an estimated 9,000 others were injured.  The blast was the largest man-made explosion before the development of nuclear weapons, releasing the equivalent energy of roughly 2.9 kilotons of TNT 2.9 (12,000 GJ).”

For more information on the Halifax Explosion, including its background and aftermath and legacy, please click here to be taken to the full Wikipedia entry, and here to be taken to a Canadian Broadcasting Corporation interactive about the event.

As Halifax smoldered, and was engulfed in suffering, the city and Nova Scotia and all of Canada mobilized to treat the wounded, bury the dead, and provide housing, and embark on a broader rebuild.

Also mobilizing, in a big way, were Boston, and the Massachusetts government; they quickly teamed to send a train to Halifax which carried nurses, doctors, surgeons, and medical supplies.  When the relief team arrived, it went right to work, coming to the aid of the exhausted Canadian physicians and medical staff.

Boston Mayor James Michael Curley and Massachusetts Gov. Samuel McCall took the lead in establishing the Halifax Relief Committee.

Massachusetts donated $750,000 to the Halifax relief effort.  For perspective, adjusting for inflation, that $750,000 in 1917 represents about a little more than $13 million in 2017.

Nova Scotia, the year after the disaster, expressed its gratitude to Boston and Massachusetts by sending to the Hub a large white spruce Christmas tree.

The Christmas tree was originally a one-time gift, but it would become an annual tradition, starting in 1971 when the citizens of Nova Scotia again sent a giant white spruce tree to Boston.

As for what constitutes “large” or “giant”, the white spruce tree that Nova Scotia every year gives Boston is in the 45 to 50-foot high range, with the 2017 edition (donated by the the married couple, Bob and Marion Campbell, of Cape Breton, Nova Scotia) actually a bit taller – 53 feet.  Yes, a large tree … a giant tree.

By the way, the journey from Nova Scotia to Boston on and along which the tree is transported is one of about 700 miles and takes two days.

And every holiday season, since 1971, the tree given by the people of Nova Scotia is the Christmas tree that takes center stage, complete with tree lighting celebration, on Boston Common.

On Thursday, December 12, 2013, Boston magazine published on its website an interesting and informative story by Madeline Bilis, titled, “Throwback Thursday: Boston’s Helping Hand After a Disaster in Nova Scotia: Nova Scotia sends a tree for the Common each year to say thanks.”

If you click here you will be taken to the article.

Also interesting and informative is a Q&A that Madeline Bilis conducted – published on November 15, 2017 in Boston magazine – with Dave MacFarlane, 41, who for the past 20-plus years was the truck driver who drove the white spruce from Nova Scotia to Boston.  (And who drove the tree to Boston in 2017?  That would be Dave MacFarlane.)

The following comment is among those Dave MacFarlane provided in the interview:

“ …. You know the tree is always a big deal in Nova Scotia. A lot of people compete over it. Every year they have several trees that people want to go to Boston, and they pick the best tree.

“But I just really like it. It’s just fun to see all the people, all the warm wishes, and everybody’s excited to see the tree. It means a lot to all the Nova Scotia people what Boston did for us in our time of need when the explosion happened. I’m proud to be a part of the position … ”

By clicking here you will be taken to the full interview with Dave MacFarlane.

A truly wonderful story and history, one which further testifies to how when fate and circumstances confer the worst, the most good and caring and decent of humanity arises and responds to meet the challenge, and to alleviate and heal anguish and hardship.

Willwork, Inc. Exhibit & Event Servics Wishes All the Happiest of Holidays!!