Goshen Christmas Tree Industry

trees2The Christmas tree industry dates back to 1914 beginning in Lunenburg County, Nova Scotia and eventually made its way to the Goshen area in the early 1930’s. It was 1928 before one Mr. Crosby made his way to Eastern Nova Scotia – Goshen. Mr. Crosby had contacted Seward Feltmate who was interested in the sale of trees at this time. Mr. Crosby brought two men with him who taught the other men the skills of cutting, tying and tagging trees. Mr. Feltmate became adept at these skills as well as the cultivation and management of tree lots. His interest and expertise in the industry earned him a reputation in the community as well as the province in regard to Christmas trees. In 1953, the Hon. A.W. Mackenzie, Minister of Lands and Forests, acknowledged Mr. Feltmate and his son Harold’s contribution in the booklet “Christmas Trees Are A Crop”.

Mr. Feltmate’s lots were often visited by officials from the Dept. of Lands and Forests as well as potential buyers who were impressed with the upkeep of the carefully cultivated crops. It was early October when the men began work and early December when the last trainload of trees would leave. Horses were used to haul the trees to the station at Lower South River. The trees were carefully loaded on open boxcars to be transported to markets in the US. Ten Cents per bail for stumpage was usually paid to the owner, which by today’s standards is very low, and forty-two cents per bail was paid to the dealer.

During the mid 1930’s, new buyers came to the area and competition grew quickly. Among these companies were the J. Hofert Company, Kirk Christmas Tree Buyers, and Ivan Reid, who was an independent buyer from New Brunswick. Prices rose and demand for better trees increased. Businesses started using trucks to haul the trees and horses were no longer required.

Merritt Feltmate (Seward’s son), started to harvest, buy and ship Christmas trees around 1947. He had tree yards in both Antigonish and Goshen where he purchased, hauled and shipped trees to the United States. He would ship approximately 30 railcar loads of trees.  In later years he shipped by truck and he quit exporting trees in the mid 1990’s.

Goshen was the first area in Guysborough County to ship trees to market and there are many small privately owned Christmas tree lots in operation to date.

For more information on the Christmas tree industry in Nova Scotia see:

http://www.gov.ns.ca/natr/christmastrees/tradition.asp

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