Tales of the Region and Beyond

Have you noticed a recent awakening of interest in local history? In a fractured and rootless society, more and more people are busy researching their family trees. Then there is the appeal of restoring older homes and the collecting of period furniture and antiques. The popularity of historical themes in movies and on television is further evidence of the same trend. Closer to home, the success of the Tantramar Heritage Trust and its offshoot the Tantramar Historical Society is proof that this influence extends to our own community. People in increasing numbers are voting with their feet as many attend Society meetings in St. Paul’s Church Hall.

This attention to the past is not entirely of recent origin. Since 1961 the Westmorland Historical Society has been fostering and encouraging interest in the history of the county. Its membership now stands at about 200 with meetings rotating between the Moncton and Sackville areas. Moving from the past to the present, planning is already underway to commemorate the arrival of Yorkshire settlers to the Tantramar region. This gathering, named Yorkshire 2000 on their Internet website, will attract hundreds of visitors from Yorkshire and other parts of the world. It is not too early to set aside the dates 6–12 August, 2000.

Undoubtedly this heightened interest in local history motivated a number of people to suggest my writing this column. For certain there will be no shortage of topics! Today’s peace and quiet belie the fact that for decades France and Britain fought for control of this strategic acreage. Eighteenth century newspaper headlines were not about Iraq or Bosnia, but of Acadia and New England and battles in unknown corners of the world such as Fort Beausejour. The Mi’kmaq, Acadians, New Englanders, Yorkshire settlers, Loyalists and more recently others from here, there and everywhere have all made contributions to the history and culture of the Tantramar.

Not only is this an area of historic interest; it reveals a rich vein of folklore. The phantom ship of the Northumberland Strait, the mysterious marsh lights, the Missaguash ghost or ghosts, along with tales of buried treasure at Jolicure are but a few examples. Then there is what can only be described as the mystique of the region. In turn, artists, musicians, novelists and poets have all, in differing ways, provided their interpretation of its appeal. An important question, to be considered in a future Flashback, comes to mind. Why has the Tantramar inspired more poetry than any other part of the Maritimes?

It is my hope that the Tantramar Flashbacks will not become a one way street. I welcome and solicit reader input along with suggestions for future columns. Any such ideas or comments should be addressed to me in care of the Sackville Tribune Post.