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Lobster pot tree in Municipality of Barrington a testament to the community’s heritage

The Municipality of Barrington’s lobster pot Christmas tree will once again be standing sentinel on the North East Point waterfront on Cape Sable Island during the opening month of the lobster season.
The Municipality of Barrington’s lobster pot Christmas tree will once again be standing sentinel on the North East Point waterfront on Cape Sable Island during the opening month of the lobster season. - Kathy Johnson
BARRINGTON, N.S. —

Once again, the Municipality of Barrington’s lobster pot Christmas tree will be standing sentinel on the North East Point waterfront on Cape Sable Island in Shelburne County during the opening month of the lobster season.

A community tradition started in 2009, for the past five years buoys are displayed in memory of those lost at sea, fishermen who have passed on and in recognition of those that are fishing on the water now.

These buoys adorn the tree, telling the story of a seafaring heritage and culture.

A buoy that tells the story of how a tragedy on the opening day of the lobster season in 1964 led to the establishment of the first Canadian Coast Guard small lifeboat station in Clark’s Harbour in 1966 is one of many that honours fishermen and the local heritage on the lobster pot Christmas tree. KATHY JOHNSON PHOTO
A buoy that tells the story of how a tragedy on the opening day of the lobster season in 1964 led to the establishment of the first Canadian Coast Guard small lifeboat station in Clark’s Harbour in 1966 is one of many that honours fishermen and the local heritage on the lobster pot Christmas tree. KATHY JOHNSON PHOTO

“People really appreciate the tree,” says Suzy Atwood, tourism and community development coordinator for the Municipality, and not just locally. 

“I get calls from Cape Breton because they’ve lost somebody to the sea and lots of times they can’t come down and put a buoy on the tree, so I’ll do one up, take a photo of it send it to them,” she says. “It  kind of gives them a sense of comfort or gratitude knowing that their loved one’s name is on the tree. I’ve even had someone from out west who had a family member from Nova Scotia who was lost at sea who asked to have a buoy.”

Last year an estimated 150 buoys decorated the tree, including one that tells the story of how a tragedy on the opening day of the lobster season in 1964 led to the establishment of the first Canadian Coast Guard small lifeboat station in Clark’s Harbour in 1966.

A note accompanying the buoy read: “On the opening day of the lobster season in southwestern Nova Scotia my grandfather Stillman Quinlan, and his nephew James Smith, lost their lives after they encountered foul weather. The ‘Jane and Judy’ was on its maiden voyage. It was that incident that led to the establishing of the Coast Guard life station in Clark’s Harbour and the first Coast Guard vessel known as the 101.”

This year, the lobster pot Christmas tree will be lit on Nov. 21, followed by fireworks marking the start of Christmas at the Causeway, a celebration of the start of both the Christmas and lobster seasons. The tree lighting begins at 7 p.m. on the North East Point waterfront, followed by fireworks, weather permitting. Hot apple cider and hot chocolate will be provided.

It takes about 200 traps to build the tree, and the process of building the tree takes several days. It remains up until after the new year. 

The tree location is part of the Nova Scotia webcam system, Cape Sable Island site. 

Fireworks light up the sky at last year’s tree lighting for the lobster pot Christmas tree. KATHY JOHNSON PHOTO
Fireworks light up the sky at last year’s tree lighting for the lobster pot Christmas tree. KATHY JOHNSON PHOTO

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