Background to the Proposal for a Gathering of Yorkshire Descendants

by Don Chapman, June 1997 and originally posted on Peter Chapman’s homepage from June 1997 to January 1999.

Researchers indicate that some 2000 people from Yorkshire England emigrated to Nova Scotia in the early years of the settlement. Of that number, apparently, approximately 1000 settled in the general area of the Isthmus of Chignecto (Smith, 1992).

Of particular interest is the migration which took place during the decade of the 1770s. Kincade states:
“Just prior to the outbreak of the American Revolution, Governor Michael Franklin of Nova Scotia brought about the settlement of a significant number of Yorkshire families in the Isthmus of Chignecto. Likely motivated by the possible forfeiture of his private lands, he brought approximately 1,000 people from the Yorkshire region of Northern England between 1772 and 1775 so as to settle them on his Nova Scotian properties.”

In recent on-line discussion related to the Yorkshire settlers, Bing Geldart, a former president of the New Brunswick Genealogy Society, stated: “I can’t deny there is and has been little acknowledgment by Historical and Genealogical groups that there even was a Yorkshire Migration. [The Migration] was one of the few, if not the only, influx of settlers to come here at their own expense and in the main to PURCHASE their lands vs an original grant from government. [The Yorkshire settlers] are also credited with preventing the inclusion of Nova Scotia as the 14th member State of the Union.”

In his guide to written history of the Maritimes, Ian Ross Robertson (1994) states: “The three major immigrant groups aside from the Loyalists were the English, Irish, and Scots. Of the three, the English have been least studied. Perhaps because of the assumption that they constituted a national, cultural, or racial norm from which others deviated, it has been difficult to gain acceptance for the notion that the English are ‘ethnic’ in the sense that the Irish, the Scots, and innumerable other groups are.”

PROPOSAL DETAILS (Still Unfolding):

Recently, an idea was presented to the Nova Scotia ( and New Brunswick (New e-mail genealogy discussion lists, for a GATHERING, in the year 2000, of descendants of the Yorkshire Migration of the 1700s.

The original suggestion, made in May 1997, was that the GATHERING 2000 be focused on the Yorkshire settlement of the Chignecto region — the geographic area around the present Nova Scotia/New Brunswick border.

In proposing the idea, Don Chapman said: “I have been thinking for some time that there ought to be some sort of a celebration of the Yorkshire settlers who immigrated to the Chignecto region in the period 1774/76. The image I have in mind is a GATHERING of people who are interested in this historical event, and more importantly, of people who are descended from these settlers. The subsequent inter-weaving of these families forms an interesting historical tapestry, the whole of which is much more than the sum of the parts. I see the possibility of a celebration, the core of which is a genealogy of the region.

I imagine such an event in conjunction with the turn of the new century — 225 years after the Yorkshire immigration. Several tens of thousand of people might spend, say, a week in the area of Amherst, Nova Scotia, Sackville, New Brunswick, in the summer of the year 2000. I can visualize large and colourful meeting tents on the Fort Lawrence ridge and around Fort Beausejour, colourful banners snapping in the wind. People browsing historical and genealogical displays, finding familiar family links and discovering many links not previously known. I can imagine historical displays and reenactments of events such as Eddy’s 1776 attack on the garrison, or the arrival of the passengers of the Albion. I can imagine owners of local properties in the region learning about and setting up displays regarding the history of their particular piece of land. I could imagine bus tours to local sites of interest.”

Suggested Date: Several days round the Canadian holiday weekend, the first week of August, 2000.

It has been suggested that the GATHERING celebrate all Yorkshire immigration to Nova Scotia. Since it is not always clear as to where Yorkshire immigrants located, this idea seems to have merit, although the core of the activities (see below) might well be centred in the “region” of the Chignecto.


It has been suggested that the YORKSHIRE 2000 GATHERING be a multi-community, multi-venue event, most of it locally-organized and developed, under the broad organizing theme of a GATHERING. At the same time, it would have the flavor of a HOMECOMING. Many events have been suggested:

• Displays by individuals, organizations, and institutions
• An Antiques Road Show(c)-like examination of physical artifacts
• Family billet program (local families welcoming visiting families into their homes)
• Guest speakers (general interest and scholarly lecture series)
• Identification and Documentation of Published Resources
• Encourage a voluntary repository of photographs
• Genealogical information “swap meet”
• Visitations by dignitaries from Yorkshire, and perhaps reciprocal visits.
• Historical reenactments
• Centralized genealogy database
• Musical presentations
• Presentation of an honourary degree(s)
• Dancing
• Religious events
• Bus tours (historic sites, early residences, cemeteries)
• Visitation by sailing vessels
• Multiple family reunions
• Register of business firms with roots leading back to Yorkshire settlers
• Development of a Yorkshire Migration WWW Home page
• Collection of some oral histories
• Encourage student production of video and photographic records
• Children’s festival activities
• Collecting funds for scholarship endowment
• Creation of a logo (perhaps a contest)
• More ………


Individuals and families should be encouraged to participate in their own right. The following organizations also could have key roles:

Genealogy Association of Nova Scotia
New Brunswick Genealogy Society
Mount Allison University
United Church of Canada
Town of Amherst, Nova Scotia
Town of Sackville, New Brunswick
Nova Scotia and New Brunswick Provincial Archives
Nova Scotia Tourism
New Brunswick Tourism
Parks Canada – Fort Beausejour
Local Historical Societies and Museums
Family Associations
Local Schools and Churches
Local Merchants


1. An electronic discussion list has been established for purposes of promoting the idea of the YORKSHIRE 2000 GATHERING, for sharing ideas and information, and for supporting organization of the event.

2. We are looking for an individual or committee of people who live in the Chignecto region, who will act as a steering and organizational committee. There have been some initial expressions of interest, and some people from Nova Scotia and New Brunswick have offered to play support roles. A number of people who live in areas outside the Chignecto, but who are connected by e-mail and ancestry, have offered volunteer support for the development of this event. These individuals and more are participants in the York2000 discussion list.

3. There has been some very preliminary indication that the Federal Government of Canada may be funding ventures around the celebration of the turn of the century. We would anticipate seeking such funding and are looking for individuals who would provide leadership in seeking such financial resources.

4. We need some institutional “hosts.” Most likely candidates are Mount Allison University and communities of the regions, key would be Sackville and Amherst.



• Increased historical awareness among the public in the region and abroad
• Increased tourism
• Development, gathering and inventory of historical materials and artifacts.
• Enhancement of genealogical efforts
• Social and cultural enhancement
• Development of a centre of Yorkshire Studies, similar to the centre for Planter Studies (Acadia University), Acadian Studies (Universite de Moncton), and Loyalist Studies (University of New Brunswick).
• Scholarships


A HISTORY OF FORT LAWRENCE. By Gladys Trenholm, Miep Norden, and Josephine Trenholm, Sherwood Printing, Ltd., Edmonton, 1985.

CANADIAN HISTORY: A READER’S GUIDE. Edited by M. Brook Taylor, University of Toronto Press, 1994. Includes, The Maritime Colonies, 1784 to Confederation, by Ian Ross Robertson.

HERE STAYS GOOD YORKSHIRE. By Will R. Bird, The Ryerson Press, Toronto, 1945.

HIS MAJESTY’S YANKEES. By Thomas H. Raddall, Doubleday, Doran & Co., New York, 1942.

JUDGMENT GLENN. By Will R. Bird, The Ryerson Press, Toronto, 1947.

NOVA SCOTIA IMMIGRANTS TO 1867. By Leonard H. Smith Jr. and Norma H. Smith. (1992), repr. Balto., 1994.



Don Chapman, Mission B.C.