By Wendy Elliott
A Kentville native, now teaching near Boston, has recently published a children’s book that commemorates an historic link between Nova Scotia and New England.
“This is a story about two regions in the world that have a history of friendship and cooperation that has existed for hundreds of years,” says Andrea Jill Calkin Guimond.
Entitled Little Red and the Boston Christmas Tree, the book was sparked by the annual Nova Scotia Christmas tree lighting in Boston.
The Grade 1 teacher wanted to teach young readers the history behind the tree. She says few children today know why Nova Scotia sends a giant evergreen each year.
After tossing ideas around for years, “the idea for the book came to me when I came down with a case of pneumonia and having lots of down time, I began to work on this story of Little Red and Old Gray,” she says.
Guimond went to Acadia University and married an American. Moving to the Boston area after teaching in the Far East, she found the tree lighting marked the start of the holiday season for her.
“This was always a fun event to meet old friends from Acadia, to see the performers from Nova Scotia and, of course, to see the tree lit up before the crowd. It marked the beginning of the holiday season for us, and added to the pride I felt for this warm gesture from my native province.”
In Guimond’s story, a curious squirrel gets lost in Boston’s Public Garden and finds his way home with the help of a large spruce tree and an older squirrel, who tells the story of the friendship and generosity that led to the tree tradition.
The practice began in 1971 to thank Massachusetts residents for the help they provided after the Halifax Explosion on Dec. 6, 1917, which killed 1,900 people instantly and caused $35 million in damage.
Guimond remembers Kentville as a “wonderful place to grow up, surrounded by a great family, beautiful countryside, good schools, and opportunities only a small town can give to a young girl.”
She has taught for 19 years in Westborough, Mass. The father of three of her students, Brian Cunningham, became Guimond’s illustrator.
Little Red and the Boston Christmas Tree is on sale at Chisholm’s in Kentville.