The Questions Tourists Ask!

Each summer the Tantramar region welcomes tourists from far and near. They come for a variety of reasons and sometimes their visits are unscheduled. Numbered among the latter are tourists who become lost.

Recently, while walking down York Street, I was startled by an oversized black sedan travelling at breakneck speed. Bearing New Jersey number plates, it came to an abrupt halt just beyond the Mount Allison Gym. As I approached, the tinted automatic window rolled down and the driver called out: Say Buddy, can you direct us to 90 Jubilee Lane?

Me: Sorry, I’m certain there is no such street in Sackville.

She: Oh yes! there is, chirped his companion. We’ve been in touch by mail with Cousin Arthur, so we know it’s the correct address.

Me: (Trying to be helpful, while sensing danger) A few years ago, I encountered folks in your situation. It turned out that they were in the wrong Sackville. This is Sackville, New Brunswick and they were looking for a street in Lower Sackville, Nova Scotia. Do you have a highway map?

He: NO! We took the exit from ‘Monk’s Town’ marked ’Sackville, Nova Scotia,’ and that’s where we are!

She: We know we’re in the right place, because we stayed on the same highway until we reached the exit for Sackville. It’s such a pretty town just as Cousin Arthur described it.

Me: Unfortunately, there are two Sackvilles. I can assure you that you’re in Sackville New Brunswick. It’s not very far from the New Brunswick/Nova Scotia border. If you return to the main highway and drive a few kilometres along you’ll see the ’Welcome Nova Scotia’ sign and the provincial tourist bureau. They should have maps of the province and they’ll help you find 90 Jubilee Lane. My guess is that it’s in Lower Sackville, Nova Scotia.

He: Look here, Bud I don’t need a map to tell me where I am. I can read signs. Since we’re already in Sackville, Nova Scotia, we’ll just have to find someone who knows this town better than you do. The window closed abruptly and the car roared on, leaving New Jersey tire marks on New Brunswick pavement. My last glimpse was seeing the car run a red light at the intersection of York and Main. Fortunately, there was no cross traffic.

When I reached the post office, I decided to check my hunch. There it was in the Canadian Postal Code Directory: 90 Jubilee Lane, B4E 1H9, in Lower Sackville, NS! I wonder if Cousin Arthur was ever found, or are Mr. and Mrs. New Jersey still lost somewhere on the Tantramar? Any sightings?

Encounters of this sort are rare, since most tourists appreciate travel tips. However, their questions can sometimes lead to the unexpected. In the interest of balance here’s a very different tourist enquiry.

One Sunday morning following church service, David and Diane Fullerton were getting into their car when they were were approached by two visitors seeking information. The Fullertons were asked if they knew of a cemetery in Sackville containing the grave of one Nathan Merrill. If this question was asked of 99.9% of the residents of Sackville, the answer would probably be a polite no. Fortunately, luck was with these tourists.

First, it’s necessary to flashback to 1976. As David tells the story, in that year, the Fullertons were visited by two Mormon missionaries. During the course of the conversation the latter told them that Sackville was of historical importance to their Church, for it was the home of Mariner Wood Merrill, a disciple of Brigham Young (180177). Young was successor to Joseph Smith (180466) founder of the Mormon Church. Subsequently, David was able to substantiate this information through a visit to his great grandmother, Mrs. Seth Campbell (Minnie Richardson) of Westcock. He also discovered that the Merrill family plot was in the Westcock cemetery.

With this earlier contact in mind David, acting on impulse, asked the visitors: Are you folks Mormon? Completely taken aback, they replied yes. David then asked: What is your connection to Mariner Wood Merrill? The visitor replied that he was a great grandson and that the grave site that they were looking for was that of his great great grandfather, M. W. Merrill’s father, Nathan Merrill.

Introductions were now in order. The visitors turned out to be Dr. and Mrs Richard Carlson, of Saratoga, California. Dr. Carlson, an aeronautical consultant, had flown from California to Boston, where he and his wife rented a car to travel to Montreal to attend an aeronautical convention. While in Montreal, the Carlsons decided to vacation in New Brunswick and look for the burial site of his ancestor.

The Fullertons then led the Carlsons to the Westcock cemetery. They, like so many others, were impressed with the location of the cemetery and its panoramic view of the surrounding countryside. Walking about twenty feet into the older section, David turned to the Carlsons and said: I think that this is what you are looking for. The grave of Dr. Carlson’s great great grandfather Nathan Allen Merrill, who died in 1852, had been located!

Once the discovery was made and pictures taken, Dr. Carlson informed the Fullertons that Nathan Merrill had been killed in 1852 when the brace of oxen he was guiding on the dykes became spooked. The cart, together with its driver fell off the edge of the dyke. The story of Mariner, his son, was then recounted. Like so many New Brunswickers, before and since, he emigrated to the United States. Following his conversion to the Mormon faith, he made the trek to Salt Lake City, Utah. There, he became a successful businessman and assisted in the establishment of the Mormon Church. The grave of a progenitor of a founding member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints had been found in Westcock cemetery.

Thanks are expressed to David Fullerton for his willingness to share this interesting story. I would be pleased to hear from other Flashback readers who may have tourist encounters to recall. If desired, your identity will not be revealed.