Yorkshire 2000 – a huge success

By Al Smith, Projects Director, Tantramar Heritage Trust

Approximately 3000 people participated in the wide ranging events of Yorkshire 2000 held August 3-10, 2000. The Tantramar Heritage Trust and the greater Tantramar region, hosted the event that celebrated 225 Years of Yorkshire Heritage in our region. The Yorkshire Immigration (1772-1775) was one of the five founding groups (Aboriginals, Acadians, Planters, Yorkshires, Loyalists) of this region and it has had a major impact on the development of the Town of Sackville and the surrounding areas. Responding to a 1771 plea from Nova Scotia’s Lieutenant Governor, Michael Francklin, over 1000 Yorkshire folks boarded vessels that departed from northern England during the four year period (1772-75)- most bound for Fort Cumberland (Fort Beausejour).
The celebration of this historic event was more than three years in planning. In the fall of 1998, the Local Arrangements Committee first put out a call for Yorkshire descendants to gather on the Tantramar in the year 2000. Thereafter word of the gathering spread far and wide and was greatly facilitated by the internet. The host organization, Tantramar Heritage Trust, and the planning committee can be justifiably proud of the resounding success of the event and of the commitment given by so many individuals, donors, sponsors and agencies. We are especially grateful for the support received from the Town of Sackville and the spirit and friendliness that the community displayed to our Yorkshire 2000 guests.
The week long Yorkshire 2000 event had a homecoming focus with family gatherings, evening concerts, a two day Yorkshire Conference (Immigration and Impact), displays, exhibits, re-enactments, theatrical presentations including dramatic readings, genealogy research centre, tours, workshops, book and craft fairs, church services, historical lectures, parade of families, ships gatherings and much, much more.
The event was centered on the campus of Mount Allison University, with events and activities throughout the New Brunswick – Nova Scotia Border area. Seven hundred and five (705) families actually registered at the Yorkshire 2000 office accounting for over 1500 people. However, in looking at the myriad of events organized under the Yorkshire 2000 banner a conservative estimate of 3000 people participated in all aspects of the gathering. Approximate numbers for the major elements of the event were as follows:

Family Reunions (30 families)
Academic (Yorkshire) Conference
Book Fair
Bus Tours (daily- 3 tours)
Children’s Activities
Concerts in the Park
Closing Concert
Craft Display & Sale
Cumberland County Museum exhibits
Curling Club Dance
Displays (Windsor Hall)
Fog Forest Gallery – Yorkshire exhibit
Fort Beausejour NHS – Yorkshire Exhibit
Genealogy Research Centre
Historic House Tours
Keillor House Museum
Lectures (late PM historical Lectures)
Leaving a Legacy:
– Plenary Session
– Re-dedication of William Chapman Memorial
Marshfire Theatre – Yorkshire play
Methodist (United) Church Services:
– Sackville United
– Amherst Trinity-St. Stephen’s
– River Philip Camp Service
– Dorchester United
Opening Ceremonies
Owen’s Art Gallery – Yorkshire Exhibit
Parade of Families
Re- enactment at Fort Beausejour NHS
Ships Gatherings
Voices from the Beginning
Wreath Laying- Oxford
– (no numbers available)
402 Heritage Day Camp held for local children
400 approx
200+ – no precise numbers available
300-400+ approx.

Participants were from every Province in Canada (30 families from British Columbia alone), throughout the United States, several from Yorkshire, England and long distance travelers – the Bulmer family from Christchurch, New Zealand. To honour our New Zealand “cousins” the New Zealand flag was proudly placed between the NB and NS flags on the stage at Opening Ceremonies.
The week was filled with many memorial experiences and it is difficult to single out individual events for special mention. Certainly the Genealogy Research Centre, so capably organized by Bing Geldart and the SE Branch of the NB Genealogy Society, was an amazing resource centre and the highlight for many participants. Opening Ceremonies – in the picturesque treed centre courtyard of Mount Allison’s campus- was magical with beautiful weather, the participation of Lt. Gov Marilyn Trenholme-Council and many dignitaries culminating with the Yorkshire 2000 song sung by Ron Trenholm and Rachael McLean. Who will ever forget the Tantramar’s MLA Peter Mesheau and his portrayal of Lt. Gov. Michael Francklin at the re-enactment at Fort Beausejour or the spirit and size of the crowd (despite miserable weather) at the Parade of Families. Many participants of the Yorkshire Conference said it was the best conference that they had ever attended and full credit goes to Paul Bogaard and his committee for organizing and attracting such an excellent lineup of presenters. Exhibits organized by Fort Beausejour NHS, Cumberland County Museum, Owens Art Gallery and Keillor House were professionally presented and well received. Unfortunately some very excellent events such as Voices From The Beginning (dramatic readings of Letters Home) had lower than expected attendance possibly due to scheduling. On the other hand Marshfire Theatre’s Great Big Mosquito Show sold out every night and had a waiting list. Workshops, bus tours, house tours, special publications and book fair, art exhibits, displays, and special church services all contributed immensely to the wide range of activities enjoyed by participants.
Yorkshire 2000 more than met the expectations of the planning committee and has already left a huge legacy with an increased interest in early settlement history. The Board of the Tantramar Heritage Trust has established a Yorkshire 2000 Legacy Committee and will be working towards; publishing the proceedings of the Yorkshire Conference, establishment of a Yorkshire Studies Group at Mount Allison University, placement of plaques and monuments, and other aspects of legacy.
The Trust’s motto “preserving our past for the future” was very aptly realized with the hosting of the Yorkshire 2000 gathering. The event was a huge success with words of praise from many participants and from the community at large. The Trust alone could not have undertaken such a monumental project and we are greatly indebted to dozens of volunteers, corporate sponsors, corporate and individual donors, the federal Millennium Bureau and especially our many partner agencies. We are also deeply indebted to our office staff: Phyllis Stopps (part- time) and our two summer students: Kelly Donaher and Scott Drover. Thank you all.


(Article for Tantramar Heritage Trust newsletter The White Fence, November issue, 2000)