BARRINGTON, N.S. – The Municipality of Barrington’s lobster pot Christmas tree will be lit for the season on Nov. 23, providing a sight of beauty, a sense of pride and a symbol of remembrance and respect for the rich lobster fishing culture and heritage of the area.
Over the years, the lobster pot Christmas tree, which stands stately on the North East Point waterfront on Cape Sable Island has evolved.
“It changes every year,” says Suzy Atwood tourism and community development coordinator for the Municipality. “The design has gone from a square tree to one that is more circular like a Christmas tree. It’s always a learning curve every year.”
Just over 200 recycled lobster traps are used to construct the tree.
“These are traps that have been sitting on the bottom of the ocean, caught their fare share of lobster and lasted their life cycle,” says Atwood. The tree is completely filled in the middle with traps to provide stability for municipal employees while they are building and decorating it.
The lighting of the Lobster Trap Christmas Tree will take place at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 23 and will be followed by fireworks.
Wanting to make the tree even more a part of the community, in 2014 Atwood put out the call for people to place memorial or commemorative lobster pot buoys on the tree. It didn’t take long for people to respond. At last count last year, Atwood says there were more than 100 memorial and commemorative lobster pot buoys on the tree.
“I lost count,” she says. “Every time I went to the tree, someone had added another one.”
Not all the buoys are in memory of fishermen, says Atwood.
“Some represent boats on the water today that are out there fishing but a good number are in memory of fishermen who have passed on or have been lost at sea.”
When it comes to decorating the tree, Atwood says great care is taken to ensure the special buoys are placed just so.
“We have requests from people who don’t live here but have a buoy on the tree so we try to put those on the side of the tree facing the Nova Scotia webcam so they can read them,” she says.
Others are placed on the lower tiers of the tree and prominent places around the top. Throughout the season, it’s not uncommon to see families and friends visiting the lobster pot Christmas tree and taking photos. Atwood says from speaking with some family members who have memorial buoys on the tree, they have told her they find “a sense of peace when they come to the tree and sense of community as well. They really appreciate the tree for what it has become to represent.”
The municipality is adding also its decorative nod to the lobster fishing industry this holiday season with a display of Canada 150 buoys painted by local residents around the duck pond fence in front of the Barrington Municipal Library.
The Canada 150 buoys will also be part of an art show in February 2018, where the 10 lobster sculptures commissioned by the municipality will be unveiled. The sculptures are all in the hands of the artists, says Atwood. “Its exciting to see the progress, to see them come alive.”
The fiberglass lobster sculptures, which are also a Canada 150 project, will be placed at various locations throughout the municipality.