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Red Sox pitch in: consulate general in Halifax celebrates 175 years.

This year is the 175th anniversary of the U.S. Consulate General in Halifax, the oldest U.S. diplomatic post in Canada. The earliest record of communication from the consulate is an April 1833 dispatch from Consul John Morrow to Secretary of State Edward Livingston acknowledging receipt of the Department's transmittal of the consul's commission.

When the consulate opened, it primarily documented exports to the United States. As the first U.S. consulate in British North America, it covered Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, Upper Canada, Lower Canada and Newfoundland. Today, the consulate's district includes the four provinces of Atlantic Canada and the small French-Canadian islands of St. Pierre and Miquelon.

The U.S.-Canada diplomatic relationship is now one of the United States' largest. Approximately $1.6 billion in goods and 300,000 people cross the U.S.-Canada border every day.

The consulate has two Foreign Service officers and nine Locally Employed staff members who have 137 combined years of service. The consulate no longer documents exports but focuses instead on American citizen issues, non-immigrant visas, public affairs and political/economic relations between Atlantic Canada and the United States.

Hosting the Sox

The consulate kicked off its 175th season by hosting the Boston Red Sox and the 2007 World Series trophy. Although Halifax is in Toronto Blue Jays territory, many in Atlantic Canada are Red Sox fans, a tradition dating to the early live radio broadcasts of Red Sox games.

A local Red Sox fan club approached the consulate for assistance in convincing the team to visit. Consul General Harold Foster and Consul Elizabeth Schwefler, a native of Massachusetts whose daughter's middle name is Fenway, wrote the Red Sox in support of the idea, and the team accepted.

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The early-January visit began with a welcome reception at the Nova Scotia Legislature hosted by the Premier of Nova Scotia and attended by the consul general and consul. Later that day, the consul general hosted a reception at his home, where fans, politicians and community leaders were photographed with the trophy and Wally, the Red Sox mascot. The next day, the Red Sox visited a childrens' hospital and elementary school, and then Wally and the trophy posed for hundreds of pictures with fans at a shopping mall.

Long Relationship

There has always been a strong connection between Atlantic Canada and New England. In 1917, the collision of two World War I supply ships in Halifax harbor caused a large explosion that leveled the city and killed more than 1,900 people. The people of Massachusetts responded quickly, sending supplies and medical personnel via train. As an annual expression of gratitude, Nova Scotia sends the city of Boston a giant Christmas tree, which is lit in a celebration at the Boston Common.

Almost 84 years after the explosion, Halifax repaid the kindness when it hosted more than 7,000 displaced passengers from 40 planes that had been diverted to Halifax after the United States closed its airspace on September 11, 2001. President Bush in 2004 and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice in 2006 traveled to Halifax to thank the citizens in person for the hospitality shown to diverted passengers.

This year, the consular section is celebrating the anniversary by presenting each American child who receives a Consular Report of Birth Abroad with a special letter from the consul general and an American flag. All sections of the consulate are also planning a large July 4th party, multiple ship visits and a fall conference on the U.S.-Canada relationship. The consulate staff invites everyone to visit, either in person or via the Web site http://halifax.usconsulate.gov.

The author is the public affairs representative at the U.S. Consulate General in Halifax.
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Author:Seitz-Ehler, Marcia
Publication:State Magazine
Geographic Code:1CANA
Date:Apr 1, 2008
Words:626
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