If you weren't able to attend the DeMerchant Reunion you really missed out on a wonderful....no...an excellent fun filled family occasion. The weather was perfect and the setting at Sullivan Farms could not have been any better. The family came together from all over the world to make this event vibrant and interesting because with any family get together, it's all about the people.
The organizing committee had been planning this event for well over a year, and considering that most of them had their everyday jobs and lives to contend with, still made time to bring this event together. We really owe a debt of thanks (at least) to the committed volunteers who pulled this off. A list of names will be posted and I may even throw in a couple of personal comments to spice things up. Look out Kathy Swazey!!
On Wednesday and Thursday the site of the reunion started being transformed from a working potato farm, to a convention centre fully equipped for parking, eating, dancing, and getting to know new friends and old acquaintances. Gaylen Sullivan leveled the area outside of the main doors and made sure everything was accessible and others pitched in to help sweep and clean the inside of the the newly transformed potato house. Next, the tables, chairs, and stage started arriving courtesy of the Southern Victoria High School and Aroostook Elementary School. Many people helped in moving these bulky items including Gaylen Sullivan, Reid DeMerchant, Bill Moir, Peter DeMerchant, and Jack DeMerchant. Thanks to Gary DeMerchant for getting permission from the schools to borrow the furniture.
On Thursday night the fun started in earnest when the decorating committee stepped up to bat and did a wonderful job transforming the dull practical potato house into a warm and inviting meeting place. The garbage barrels were placed, the decorations hung with care, and the tables covered from one end to the other. Everybody pitched in including Eunice DeMerchant, Elizabeth Davenport, Viola Hebert, Jackie Hebert, Carolyn Kelley, Donna Larue, Joyce DeMerchant, Marina DeMerchant, Karen Sullivan, Kathy Swazey, Carlene Underhill, Tammie DeMerchant and Dorothy DeMerchant. What a wonderful job they did and talk about efficient, WOW. I only wish everyone could have seen these gals do their thing, it was amazing.
Leroy and Elizabeth Davenport provided the large carnival tent outside the main doors. The guys pretended to be busy working on setting up the tent but it was child's play in relation to what the gals did. Greg Underhill, Jack DeMerchant, Peter DeMerchant, Leroy Davenport, Leo DeMerchant and Gaylen Sullivan showed us how strong and rugged men do things in Victoria County. They made themselves available for any little thing that needed done. I would be remiss if I didn't mention Dana Wright and his ladder climbing act when putting up the balloons. Dana and Gaylen have nerves of steel and they can keep them, because I wouldn't climb up 20 feet of ladder to place balloons for a million dollars. :-)
After a partial night rest on Thursday night (pre show jitters) odds and ends were taken care of on Friday morning. The road signs had to be placed around (yes they were small, sorry) and finishing touches were were performed around the site. Peter DeMerchant volunteered his truck and time to set up the signs. Vaughan had to get his computer all set up and ready to go and the sound system needed to be hooked up. Thanks to Verdell Sullivan for the help there.
Friday evening came in a hurry. The clan started showing up around supper time and a steady stream followed for the rest of the night. It was my night to shine bright and give a talk on the "Life and Times of John Cuffman". To those of you who sat through my speech my heart goes out to you. Junior DeMerchant, who played the organ, and myself learned very quickly that the acoustics inside a potato house are not the best, lots of echoes off the walls. Someone had to be a guinea pig to figure this out and I am glad it was me. To the few that could understand what I said I hope you enjoyed it because our DeMerchant history is so fascinating and the proud heritage we share is worth hearing. I want to mention a few people I had the privilege of meeting after the talk. Paul B. DeMerchant, Brent DeMerchant, (notice the big M BRENT!) and Kerry Greene (my twin sister who my parents sold to the Gypsies) were truly fascinating people to talk with. These words do not express how glad... no honoured I was to make their acquaintances.
We also had a corn boil on Friday night and the DeMerchant clan proved if there is food to eat, it will be taken care of. Nobody saved me a piece, thanks a lot. Actually we had a much larger crowd than anticipated on Friday night and the quantity of corn we allowed for everyone was a little less than what was needed. My apologies to those who didn't get a cob. On the bright side nothing was wasted and many family members had a chance to sample farm fresh New Brunswick produce. I hope you all had a opportunity to taste the sweets and treats because they were perfect. Thanks to Viola Hebert, Carolyn Kelley, and Ruth Darkis.
Saturday turned out to be a day many will never forget and always reflect upon as one of the best. We had a beautiful breakfast put on by the Masonic Lodge of Perth Andover with a $5.00 donation going to a great outfit that looks after children and their families. I had the privilege of washing a few dishes and helping out in the kitchen. I had never met any of these guys before and they put me to work as if I was one of their own...nice of them eh? Bill, Greg, Pete, and other Masons who's names I forget thanks for the laughs. Their was over 90 people who showed up to breakfast on Saturday morning and they were treated to coffee, juice, eggs, bacon, sausage, and pancakes. A really good way to start off your morning. A special thank you to Peter DeMerchant for setting this one up for the family. You might not have ever seen or met Peter through the course of the reunion but he was a driving force who had so much to do with its success. Thanks!
Saturday afternoon was spent in relative leisure. People took boat rides on the mighty Saint John and watched the water, which was the life blood of our ancestors, splash and dance against the hull. Others took tours with Gaylen of Sullivan Farms, played bingo, walking tours of local sites, and others searched for tombstones of long gone relatives. One story I heard about was truly inspirational. Many years ago a family of DeMerchants from around Perth Andover was very poor and the family scattered about when it was time to leave home. One of the boys went to Ontario and never returned. He recently passed away and his daughter, not knowing if any relatives were still alive back in New Brunswick, came back for the reunion. One of her uncles was at the reunion on Friday night and they met one another. He took his niece to the old homestead, which is no longer standing, and showed her where her Dad had lived as a child. Needless to say this is the reason why we get together from time to time.
Saturday night was the time to laugh and kick back and enjoy the family, food, and entertainment. Karen had a little scare when the caterer didn't show up quite on time but everything worked out. Karen was able to step back from the brink and take a deep breathe. Karen was the driving force of the reunion and she did an incredible job, if you want to thank someone for the time you had e-mail Karen. We all had our family picture taken and then it was time to line up at the trough. The food we all shared was delicious and of course the company was perfect. Who wouldn't want to be around a bunch of hungry DeMerchants? Thanks to Marion DeMerchant for the great cake she makes. As I had mentioned earlier Junior and I were the guinea pigs on Friday night and the stage was moved outside adjacent to the tent. This made all the difference in the world when the "Geneaus" came out to Wow us with their talent and musical ability. Elizabeth Davenport had so much to do with many things over the course of the reunion and did a brilliant job organizing and planning the events. After everyone filled their bellies they took out and mingled and got caught up with old and new friends. Vaughan was busy telling people they were 3rd cousins or you are related to this person through this ancestor and everyone loved it. I left right after supper for a few hours to make sure my little daughter Olivia remained on her schedule. Bath at 7 pm and right to bed no exceptions. She is now 22 months old and she always goes to bed so easy because Amy has been so consistently loving with her. It makes a difference folks. By the way did I mention my wife Amy is a Sullivan and directly related to Gaylen? If any of you single DeMerchants can find a Sullivan to marry my advice is grab em' they are amazing people.
The night carried on and everyone had a great time. When I got back I milled around and talked to this person and that person. I wrote a small book for the reunion "THE STRENGTH OF LOYALTY - History of John DeMerchant Sr." (A huge thank you to Wiley Waugh and Books of Waugh for printing the book) and was attempting to drum up interest. All the proceeds are going to be put towards a memorial for John Cuffman/DeMerchant that we hope to place in the Gee Flat Cemetery in Bath sometime in the future. I still have a few copies left from a limited print so get a hold of me if you would like one. If you have read it, I would love a book review so please e-mail Norm... I had a great time talking history with Ben Barr of Millinocket, ME USA we stayed around until after midnight shooting the breeze. When Ben had to leave I took the opportunity to impose on Gaylen and Karen and spend a few hours at their place talking about how things were going. Lucky for me Karen doesn't usually go to bed until the wee hours of the morning anyway, so she was very excited to have me over. (yeah right) I went back to my Uncle Reid's around 2 am and had the privilege of meeting the RCMP at a road block in Andover. They checked my license, checked to see if I had been drinking and sent me on my way. Thanks to the Mounties for keeping our roads safe.
On Sunday morning Amy, Olivia, and I went to the Masons' Lodge for breakfast. I got the chance to see first hand the hard work those guys were doing. Thanks again we really enjoyed and appreciated it. I was very fortunate to sit with Dale DeMerchant and his wife of Oliver, British Columbia while we ate. Dale's Great Grandfather, Wilford DeMerchant, moved out west sometime during the 1890's (if memory serves me correctly) and a few generations of DeMerchants now call the far west of North America home. This was Dale's first real visit to the "homeland" and I was absolutely thrilled to make his acquaintance. I haven't forgot about you Dale, your information will be on its way. After breakfast my family walked over to the Andover waterfront and took time to enjoy the beauty which surrounded us. We are so lucky to be blessed with the beautiful Province we live in, please count your blessings because it is so important that we recognize our good fortune.
The Sunday afternoon church service held at the reunion site was very well attended. Father Bart DeMerchant (Episcopalian Priest) who traveled all the way from Detroit Michigan was unable to speak due to a stroke he had suffered a few years back. Bart had an extremely busy weekend and was completely played out. I was lucky enough to speak with Bart on Friday evening (I alone probably tired him out talking to him) for an extended period and it was a true pleasure. Bart, while claiming he has slowed dramatically since the stroke, spoke to me with eloquence and intelligence you normally don't find. A truly amazing human being. It was not a complete loss for the family because his beautiful wife Janet stood up in Bart's place and delivered a inspirational message to the crowd.
Bennie DeMerchant, a Pentecostal Missionary in Brazil, also kept us informed about our Savior Jesus Christ. Carl DeMerchant stood up and introduced his son who is studying to be a Minister. The family listened intently as the young fellow showed he too would be introducing people to our Lord one day. A great job was done by everyone.
Following the service people spoke about the wonderful service and looked forward to a wonderful lunch put on by Carol Anderson of Baridsville NB. She did not disappoint. It was wonderful. People took this opportunity to say goodbye and get addresses and e-mail of their old and new family. So many people made it such a joyous occasion and everyone looked sad that it had to end. Dreams of the next reunion in 2008 probably filled their minds.
All that was left to do was clean up and return the equipment that people and organizations had so kindly donated. I would like to give special thanks to the clean up crew that pitched in. I know that I am forgetting some but here are a few in no specific order: Paul B DeMerchant (We'll talk later), Danny DeMerchant (finally got to talk to you at the end), Brent DeMerchant (notice the big M, proud enough for ya?), Darryl Swazey (You're no Mark D!), Kent DeMerchant (they can't be your children, their to cute), Dana Wright (I won't tell Tammie you're really from Nackawic), Tammie DeMerchant (Psss, Dana is from Nackawic), Kathy Swazey (Are you working on the Potato harvest in Tilley this fall?), Carlene Underhill (You married a Gordon fan, ha ha ha x 1000), Greg Underhill (When are we going to Loudon?), Peter DeMerchant (take a break, you deserve one), Jack DeMerchant (thanks for giving me my Union Jack, back, Jack.), Gary DeMerchant (Find me a History teaching job, please!), Gaylen Sullivan (Salt of the Earth, maybe just salty.), and last but certainly not least Karen "could you do anymore to be helpful" Sullivan. (You should have went with Andrew to Australia).
As time permits I will post some of my photos and I would love to post yours as well if you are willing to share them. Email me at email@example.com
Thanks to everyone who helped make the DeMerchant Reunion 2003 a success. Looking forward to seeing you in 2008.
See a couple of reunion pictures. I didn't have much time to take pictures, so if you have some and would like to share, please send them to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Return to DeMerchant Homepage
Last modified May 24, 2005.